Yama-Con 2014: The Best of Times, The Busiest of Times

Well, readers, it’s that time of year again – and no, I’m not talking about Christmas! Last weekend, December 5-7, was Yama-Con, Northeast Tennessee’s own anime and comic convention, and definitely one of my favorite conventions that I attend regularly. I’ve been going to Yama-Con for all three years it’s been happening, and have always had a wonderful and memorable time there. This year, however, was a little different: I wouldn’t just be going as a normal attendee, I would actually be working for the convention as a volunteer!

I had no idea what I was doing, but I knew it was going to be awesome. Continue reading

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Insert Bad Autumn Pun Here

The minute I stepped outside my dorm a few weeks ago and felt cool breeze on my skin instead of the normal mid-morning heat, I had only one thought: Oh, YES.

It’s now October, readers, otherwise known as the absolute greatest month of the year — Autumn is upon us! Although all of the seasons are beautiful in their own way and completely necessary, of course, I’ve always loved this particular point on the wheel, and why not? Returning to school, perfect weather, beautiful changes in nature and fun holidays all add up to make a pretty amazing atmosphere.

Don’t pay ANY attention to this noise.

Well…an amazing atmosphere everywhere except on the non-Tumblr internet. Apparently your favorite season being Autumn has become something of a negative stereotype applied to teenage girls, as per graphics that say things like “if you say ‘pumpkin spice latte’ in front of a mirror three times, a white girl in yoga pants will appear and tell you her favorite things about Fall.” Needless to say, readers…this irked me. So guess what? This white girl is about to tell you her favorite things about Fall! Continue reading

Freshman Year: Mission Report!

It’s almost too difficult to wrap my mind around – almost ten months from last August, I’ve successfully completed two semesters of college. In all honesty, I didn’t think that finishing my freshman year would seem like such a big deal to me when it happened, but seeing as how almost nothing went exactly how I expected it to, it suddenly feels like a huge accomplishment that I survived at all! Nevertheless, I’m still here, alive and kicking with my scholarships intact, GPA still in the safe zone, and my sanity only slightly eroded. This year was obviously a completely new experience for me, and I had to spend quite a bit of energy adjusting: some things I feel I dealt with well, while others I could’ve done better. Some experiences were nonstop fun, others lots of hard work, some anxiety-inducing, and some simply heartbreaking – however, I managed to learn from all of them, and I’ll be able to use that knowledge to better handle what comes next!

Here’s a recap of what I managed to pick up in terms of life experiences this year:

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The Tony Stark method of studying: guaranteed to leave you sleep-deprived and your short-term memory overworked!

– Don’t become an expert in thermonuclear astrophysics the night before the test (AKA, study ahead of time!)

I picked up the unfortunate habit of waiting too long to study for exams near the end of my first semester – particularly pertaining to the final exam for my least favorite class, math, when I put off preparing for it until the day before. Whatever I did must have worked, because I got an A; however, it had the unfortunate side effect of making me think this would work every time! The spring semester was full of procrastination when it came to tests, even in classes that I liked. While night-before studying kept working technically (my grades didn’t slip much), it certainly wasn’t much fun, and caused me far more stress than it was worth. When the fall 2014 semester rolls around, I’ll be planning out my study schedule much more carefully and save myself a lot of worrying – and a lot of sleep!

– It’s okay to have awesome friends and spend time with them, and it’s also okay to want to be alone.

I met so many amazing people at LMU, especially in the Honors Program, that I can now call best friends without hesitation. I love them all so much, and we’ve had a ton of fun together over the past year, from sitting around complaining about classwork to going to movies, or just watching each other play video games and talking. Even though we’re pretty close now, they were still new friends near the beginning of the year, and I wanted to spend as much time with them as possible – but I’m not wired to be around people all the time, and now I realize that that’s perfectly fine.  Since moving into a private dorm this past semester, I’ve been able to socialize on my own terms; whenever I want to be with people, I can be, and when I want to spend time by myself or withdraw for a while, I can do that too. As much as I imagined myself being an instant social butterfly when I started college, I don’t have to be all the time.

Me singing “Let It Go” from Frozen at karaoke night in the student center – one of the few events during which I actually did “let it go” during my 2nd semester!

– Don’t get so caught up in acting “grown up”; it’s alright to ask for help and to be a bit unsophisticated!

I remember clearly how I felt when I first began college: at last, I had left the penitentiary of superficial immaturity also known as “high school” behind! I was an adult, and could thus start focusing on serious adult business. I was going to decimate my way through freshman year if it was the last thing I did, all the while being completely responsible, strong, and self-sufficient! Yeah, you guessed it:  didn’t work out so well. I ended up needing tons of practical and emotional support from my parents, friends, and faculty. A legal adult I may be, but for all intents and purposes, I’m still an adolescent, and that isn’t a bad thing – it just means that I still need a few safety nets as I take on more responsibilities. And becoming more “grown up” definitely doesn’t have to mean becoming boring. If anything, letting loose and forgetting about serious adult business to have fun for a while is even more gratifying now than it was in high school!

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Sometimes it helps me to imagine my life as a book when I’m struggling with particularly difficult times – would my readers cheer for my choices or be disappointed?

– If something goes terribly wrong, let it take its course, but don’t be destroyed by it.

Midway into this past semester, I was told that something I had been counting on happening in my academic career wouldn’t be going quite the way I anticipated it to, and in fact wouldn’t be happening at all. I was devastated – furious, frustrated, like I had a rug pulled out from under me with no warning. For a few weeks near the end of the year, I even suspected that my depression might be returning because of it. I had to take a mental health day from class or have a good cry now and then, but I knew I couldn’t let the news destroy me completely, because my time in college was limited and precious and I’d never get this semester back. And so I pressed on the best I could, still disheartened and frustrated but doing what I knew had to be done. It was definitely hard, but I survived – and that’s what counts.

Perhaps overall the most important thing I learned this year? To not compromise myself for anyone or anything, no matter what happens, and to keep moving forward no matter how difficult a situation is or appears to be.

Sophomore year doesn’t start for another few months – I’ll have plenty of time to plan my approach to the coming year during that time. Meanwhile, I’ll be keeping my blog updated with what’s going on in my life this summer, so feel free to follow me to hear more about my adventures!

Friendship is Magic – and Only Logical

Many people are able to make and maintain social connections easily, and are instantly friends with anyone they meet.  I have never been able to count myself among their numbers, unfortunately.  I am introverted by nature and draw my energy from being alone; too much time around too many people and I’m drained.  While I certainly enjoy the time I spend alone, I also don’t fancy being alone all of the time; this is where my friends come in.  There are many different kinds of friends and many different ways to express friendship, and all of them are important.  Even for introverts like me, there’s lots of positive energy to be found in even the smallest social connection.

The most unlikely friendships sometimes turn out to be the strongest ones.

Perhaps rather obviously, one of the first things I look for in a friend is commonality.  A large factor in many friendships is the sharing of interests; I enjoy sci-fi and fantasy, so I have many friends who also enjoy sci-fi and fantasy, and so on.  However, interests aren’t the only things friends can have in common that affect their relationship.  Many people are drawn to others with similar personalities as themselves, since they feel they can understand each other with more ease (as is the case with my three closest friends at LMU).  Being in a pre-existing group together can also help facilitate friendships; merely being in the Honors’ Program made me more comfortable making connections with the other students there, since I knew I had something in common with everyone there from the very beginning.  In short, one thing seems to reoccur in all of these scenarios:  I chose my friends based on what was safe.  There’s absolutely nothing wrong with that; however, I’ve seen many exciting friendships unfold between people who seem to be completely different.  To use a literary example (my specialty), a “safe” friendship would be like Sam Gamgee and Frodo Baggins from The Lord of the Rings – the two are from the same community, have much in common, and are united by a common goal in their story in addition to this.  This is in stark contrast to Gimli and Legolas, a dwarf and an elf who at first understand each other very little; by the end of the story, however, they are the best of friends, willing to fight and die for each other.  Looking outside of one’s usual circle for connections can be very rewarding, and can certainly lead to interesting adventures.

Internet friendships are no less real than any others.

Relating back to the concept of all types of friendships being important, a topic of controversy for many is the very recent concept of “internet friends” or “online friends.”  Technology has allowed us to connect to people in entirely new ways; social networking and other forms of online activities allow people who may have never met in real life to interact with each other, share ideas, and form friendships.  Naysayers may insist that “Online friends aren’t real friends!” or “If you’ve never met face-to-face, you’re not really friends!”  I find this point of view to be limiting in the extreme.  A good many of my social connections are sustained through the online community: online role-playing game partners, members of the forum of a fan club I’m a part of, friends I’ve met in person perhaps once at anime conventions and then only kept up with through the internet afterward.  For a while a few years ago, online friends were some of the only friends I interacted with regularly, and I considered them to be very real.  If one’s idea of a night out with friends is a series of raids with their World of Warcraft guild, then more power to them.  In fact, it sounds like a ton of fun – sign me up!

Not only are friendships obviously rewarding and fun in their own right, social connections between friends are also incredibly valuable resources, such as for academic or emotional support.  I met one of my newest friends through my Math class this past semester; it turned out that we were both huge J.R.R. Tolkien nerds, and the common interest got us talking right away.  Later on, if it weren’t for us teaming up near the end of the semester for an intense period of studying, my Math final most likely would’ve turned out a bit worse than it ended up being!  With that trial over, we’re tackling more creative endeavors using our newly discovered teamwork; both being writers, we’re working together on a story inspired by the Harry Potter book series.

In the end, the real point of friendship is a simple one: to make our lives and the lives of our friends more awesome than they were before.  Not only do they make the passage through school much more enjoyable, but they enhance the passage through life as well!

Are you introverted or extroverted?  What kinds of friends do all of you have?  Any interesting stories about your exploits that you’d like to share?  Feel free to leave a comment below; I can’t wait to hear about your adventures!  If you’d like to hear more about my own adventures, consider following my blog for even more of my stories and thoughts.