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Thoughts on Graduation and Post-Grad Life

Reflections on graduation, what comes next, and the journey that lies ahead.

It’s weird to think that just last month I finished up my college career. It’s been a wild four years, and I’ve learned so much from them. I’ve made awesome friends, gone on adventures, found love, lost that love, learned skills to get me through the next chapter of my life, and a lot of fun along the way. Yet, with graduation comes a moment of bittersweetness. I can’t see my friends as often as I used to. I can no longer go on as many adventures, though hopefully that will change. And I’ve entered the even more wild world of adulthood and the job search every graduate faces.

That’s not to say there isn’t anything to be excited about. Recently, I started looking at jobs near the city, so I can be closer to some of my fellow alums. I have a set goal in mind for the next few months in terms of moving. And once I’m on my own, I can start planning adventures again. The future is wide open and full of possibilities if I’m willing to step out and take them. And that’s going to be the hardest part. I was never the go-getter type in high school or college. But now I get the chance to be one. And I intend to start living the life of one.

There will be some changes now that I’ve graduated. My content won’t focus as much on college topics, though I do intend to give some tips as the school year begins and around graduation time. Instead, I want to take a bit of a new direction. Graduation allowed me to not worry about schoolwork anymore, and I was able to think about my focus and where I want to take it. So, I want to start adding new topics to my blog as I move forward.

The first I’ve already started, which is geek culture. I’m a huge geek, not quite a nerd, and I love all things to do with fandoms and the communities that build around them. It’s incredible how people from all walks of life can sit down in one room, watch a movie or TV show, and gush about it for hours afterwards without one fight breaking out. It’s amazing, and so unique to fandom communities. I want to further explore this category and share my own fandoms with you guys.

The second is writing, which I’ve also covered before. I love writing fiction, and it’s my dream to become a published author, and even teach writing at a university. I won’t be posting stories per say. However, I do want to cover some writing tips for storytelling and even how storytelling has helped me with blogging, too! I’m also looking to start a Patreon for my stories, so I might post a few of those here as well! We’ll have to see how that all works out of course. But I’m really excited to tell you guys about writing stories and what goes into that.

The last thing I want to add is fashion. I know, it’s cliche, but hear me out. This isn’t regular fashion. One of my little known passions (and the reason my closet hasn’t had a makeover in years) is ethical fashion. Ethical fashion is a movement designed to produce sustainable and environmentally friendly clothing and decor without the use of mass production or slave labor. From thrift shopping to only buying particular brands, I want to cover how to shop ethically on a budget. It’s a really important humanitarian and environmental movement that puts the power in the consumer’s hands, not the business’s. And I want to show you guys how you can make this part of your routine.

Graduation is something everyone goes through at some point. It marks a change, an achievement. And for me, graduation means more than just an achievement. It marks the beginning. The beginning of a journey. And I hope you join me as I start off this new journey into adulthood. It’s not going to be easy. But that’s okay. Life isn’t meant to be easy. But it is full of adventure, and I look forward to seeing where this one will take me next.

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The Joy of Fandom

The Joy of Fandom: Pop culture, community, and cosplay. Photo credit: JFP Photography.

A few weekends ago I was able to do something incredible: I took three days to go dress up as fictional characters and have fun with other people doing the same thing. If I were to show you pictures from the event, you may have one of three reactions. Shocked and weirded out by the strange costumes and colors, curious but also kind of put off by the concept, and so excited to tell me about the conventions you’ve gone to and plan to go to. Welcome to the world of fandom: the community aspect of pop culture from around the world.

Some people are legitimately shocked and somewhat scared by the fact that others and myself enjoy dressing up like this. They see it as immature, irrational, or just plain weird. Why would you want to dress up as a fictional character? Someone who has no direct impact on the world. Most of these people usually aren’t among the fandom crowd. They see sensibility in reality and everyday life, which there’s nothing wrong with doing that. However, I’d like to address this viewpoint. Yes, it can seem strange and like we’re trapped in our own little reality. But the truth is, that isn’t what’s going on. Instead, I’d like to show the other side of cosplay and conventions.

Yes, dressing up as fictional characters seems like a weird way to spend a weekend. Yet thousands participate in each fandom convention each year. That amounts to millions of people, not just in the U.S. but also around the world. So obviously, dressing up as fictional characters for a weekend isn’t unpopular. In fact, in the five years I’ve been going to the convention in Pittsburgh, attendance has jumped from a little over 5,000 to almost 9,000. And if that’s the jump for a smaller convention, then others have jumped just as much or more. It’s gotten more popular for comic cons, especially with the recent superhero movies and the revival of Star Wars. And with this popularity comes more publicity and more people dressing up as fictional characters for a weekend.

It isn’t just young people who attend conventions either. People young and old, men and women, from all walks of life participate in cosplay each year, sometimes going to multiple conventions a year. And yes, most of them happen to be young adults, but a good many of them are also between 30-50 years old. That’s what makes cosplay, and fandoms, so fascinating. No matter where they’re from, what they believe, or how old they are, everyone manages to get along and laugh and have fun. It’s something unique to the fandom community that makes it special. Not many other communities outside of the fandom community can say that they bring people together like that.

And that’s the beautiful thing. Fandom is such a unique phenomena, spanning so many different sub-communities and so many people. Most sub-communities appreciate each other despite age or class or gender. It’s the essence of what can possibly be called a true community. Yes, there can be fighting between and even within sub-communities. But no community is perfect either. And I think that’s what makes fandom so special. It’s a tight-knit community spanning countries, ages, genders, and worldviews. Sure we fight, but there still isn’t anything that can truly make the worldwide fandom community fall apart. And I think that’s the real joy of fandom.

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As the New Year Begins: A Reflection on 2016

2016. I think most people can agree this wasn’t the greatest year we’ve had for the 21st century. Many people were taken from us, from beloved celebrities passing too early to friends and family members in many horrible incidents across the globe. Fights, anger, shootings, war, terror attacks, the presidential election, all of these have left their mark on 2016. The bad news: 2017 might not be much better. The good news: it doesn’t have to be.

2016 wasn’t the greatest year for most people. But it still had it’s bright moments. It brought us some fantastic movies. It was a chance for college students to show what they’re made of as they entered the work force. And it was a chance to start over, even if the next president-elect isn’t who anyone wanted (even those who voted for him). There were still holidays to celebrate with family. There were still new memories, new life, and constants throughout 2016. Many people I know celebrated a new addition to their family. They celebrated the chance to spend time with friends and family throughout the year. Despite the anger, the hardships, and the general negativity towards one another, people still found reasons to get up every morning and keep moving.

But what does this say about 2016 as a whole? There were no doubt some really nasty parts. The year starting off with several beloved celebrity deaths paved the way for heartbreak and mourning. The election primaries finishing with two candidates many didn’t want. ISIS’s grip on Europe slowly building up anger at refugees and hostility between both parties. And Syria’s situation becoming more and more messed up, horrifying, and confusing for those outside of Syria and Syrian civilians. Not much can be immediately thought of when it comes to good things in 2016. But doing a little digging provides a few victories in 2016.

Endangered animals like pandas and tigers are slowly regaining numbers. The money from the ALS Bucket Challenge was used for ALS research, which found the gene responsible for the disease. Leonardo DiCaprio finally won his Oscar (warning: there’s a video). Pokemon Go brought not only the world of Pokemon to life, but also encouraged a lot of people to go outside and interact while playing a virtual game. Harry Potter fans were transported back into the wizarding world with Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them. And millions of students worldwide entered their last year at university or high school/secondary school before they start the next chapter of their lives. All of this happening with the 12 months that were 2016.

Yeah, 2016 did not look good for a lot of people. Unfortunately, there aren’t high chances that 2017 will be much better. But that doesn’t mean it has to be. The good things that happened last year happened because we decide to make them happen. We decided to put in the effort to help endangered animals. We managed to raise that money, even though it was a few years back, to research the gene for ALS. And we decided to take charge of our lives, enjoy the entertainment given to us, be it Pokemon or Harry Potter, and start preparing for the next chapter in our lives where it takes us. And that’s what the new year is for.

2017 is a new chance. Sure, it’ll be scary. There are opportunities for failure. But so is every year. So instead of getting worried about what the new year might bring, let’s hold strong and not just hope things will get better. Let’s make things better. Here’s to you, 2016. Thanks for preparing us for the road ahead.