Christmas in College

It’s December, you’re in college, the last thing you want to think about is celebrating Christmas. There are exams to study for, papers to write, group projects to suffer through… who has time to think about the holidays?

Look, as much as I hate to say it, but the busy end-of-semester rush doesn’t delay the passing of time. Christmas will continue to get closer, and if you happen to have a late semester (like I did this year), it’ll be upon you almost as soon as you’re home for the holidays.

It’s hard to celebrate Christmas in college, but fortunately there are some ways you can still have holiday cheer while passing all of your exams.

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My Teenage Hipster Complex

Recently, I committed the English major’s unpardonable sin.

Plagiarism? No, worse than that – I admitted that I haven’t read the Harry Potter series.

You would think from the scandalized gasps that I’d just admitted to first-degree murder, but that was not the case. Nope, I just haven’t read one of the most beloved fantasy series of all time.

Now, granted, I did pick up the first few books in my late teens, but I never finished the series due to (buckle your seatbelts) a lack of interest. That has actually been my reason for avoiding them all along – my parents never told me I wasn’t allowed to read the books, which might have been a more acceptable excuse at my religious college. No, the reason I didn’t read Harry Potter was because I didn’t want to.

You might be wondering, why didn’t I want to? I’ve always loved reading, and I don’t have anything against fantasy novels. Why didn’t I devour the Harry Potter series like the rest of my peers?

The answer is right there: everyone else was doing it, and therefore, I didn’t want to.

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When The Words Won’t Come

Anyone who’s ever written anything has probably sat down in front of their computer or notebook, all set to write, when they suddenly realize there’s a big problem – they’ve got nothing. All the ideas decided to flee the country as soon as they saw that blank page.

The typical solution is to just start writing anyway, even if it’s slow and painful at first. Even if you have to force the words out of your brain and onto the page, before you know it, writer’s block is a thing of the past.

At least, that’s usually what happens. But when writer’s block comes back day after day and the thought of sitting down to create something makes you feel hollow instead of joyful, it might be time to consider a different approach.

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What I Learned This Summer

Summertime is special. Even if you’re working, there’s just something about the summer that feels like a break from the norm. Maybe it’s the warmer weather or the longer days. Whatever it is, it makes the summer seasons a refreshing time of year.

As many of you may know, I was offered a job at my campus this summer, and so instead of going home, I stayed on campus for the past three months. It was a new experience for me – even though I’d been away from home for over a month in the summer of 2017, it was much different to live on campus for the entire summer.

Between officially working full-time, living without a roommate, and buying actual groceries for the first time, I learned a lot these past few months. Since I shared a little bit about my summer experience last year, I thought it would be good to do it again as I close out this season and prepare for the new school year.

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When You Don’t Have A Plan

Look guys, I’m a planner. If there’s a trip or event coming up, I’m usually the one who’s figuring out when we need to leave, how we’ll get there, and what we’ll need to bring with us. Last minute changes are not my best friend, because that usually means I’m scrambling to prepare or adapt to the new situation. It’s a bit stressful, actually.

This would also explain why I typically have my blog topics picked out weeks in advance. As deadlines get closer, I already have a head start by knowing what I want to talk about. Of course, there are times when I choose to deviate from my plans if there’s something timely that I want to write about. There are also times when I forget to plan (er – like this week). But most of the time, I have plans for everything.

But what if I didn’t?

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What’s Wrong With Walkthroughs?

Let’s say you’re planning a road trip across the country. You get your maps out (or use the internet) and follow the highways, looking for cities and other places to stop along the way. Before long, you’ve got the whole route planned out, down to every motel or Airbnb you’ll be staying in.

Does this make the trip any less exciting? Most of us would probably say no. Planning ahead is the prudent thing to do – after all, you don’t want to end up in the middle of nowhere with no place to eat or sleep. Having a GPS or map guide you doesn’t make the trip any less of an adventure.

Video game walkthroughs function similarly to a GPS, except instead of telling you which exit to take, they tell you how to defeat those strange new enemies, which block needs to be pushed to solve the puzzle, and where to find any hidden secret. In other words, they’re a map to guide you on your virtual adventure.

Following the road trip logic, using a walkthrough shouldn’t diminish the sense of adventure or excitement in playing the video game. Yet, for some reason, we gamers seem to think it does, and we look down on any one who would dare look up the solution to a puzzle on YouTube. We call them “casuals” and “fake gamers.”

But why? What makes their way of enjoying video games inferior to ours? What’s so wrong with using a walkthrough?

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20 Things I’ve Learned in 20 Years

Just recently, I completed my 20th revolution around the sun, which is a pretty impressive feat. To be honest, I don’t feel that much different than when I was 19, but if having a birthday means I can have cake and ice cream, then you better believe I’m gonna celebrate it.

In celebration of my 20th birthday, I’ve decided to keep with my trend of making lists (18 Facts About Me and 19 Things I Want to Do) and share 20 things I’ve learned over the course of my life. Some of them will be ridiculous, others serious, but either way, these are the things I’ve taken to heart over the years.

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On Being a “Nice INTJ”

“How are you an INTJ? You’re too nice!”

This was said to me by one of my friends the other night while we were talking about the Myers-Briggs types. I know she meant well by it, I wasn’t offended by it, and I’m certainly not here to dispute the validity of it. However, what she said made me think, and I believe it’s evidence of one of the biggest misconceptions regarding INTJs and the Meyers-Briggs personality types as a whole.

I’ve written about something similar before when I ranted about INTJ representation in fiction and how I was tired of being cast as the villain. Stereotypically, INTJs are callous, arrogant, and overall unkind people. As I stated in that earlier post, this stereotype is actually very rarely the truth, but how can that be? If INTJs are supposed to have these traits of fierce independence and confidence, how can they be kind? I’m not gonna pretend I have all the answers, but I’d like to provide a few thoughts on the matter.

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Rules for Spoilers

Spoiler (n.)

  1. Information about the plot of a movie, TV show, book, video game, or any other form of media that ruins the viewer/reader/gamer’s enjoyment of the media in question.
  2. The kind of person you don’t want to be.

Chances are, we’ve all been spoiled at some point in our lives – and no, it’s not the kind of spoiled that happens when your grandparents give you all the chocolate chip cookies you want. Perhaps someone once told you about how Harry Potter ends, or you know what happens in that particular episode of Sherlock, or maybe you know Sheik’s true identity despite having never played Ocarina of Time. Sometimes, spoilers are okay – you probably don’t care about how Harry Potter ends if you don’t plan on ever reading or watching it – but other times, they ruin things we would’ve otherwise enjoyed.

But that begs the question, what makes a spoiler spoil-y? When is it okay to discuss potential spoilers in public? How do I avoid them?

There isn’t a one-size-fits all formula for every single creative media ever made, but I have put together a few of my personal guidelines to give everyone a safe and spoiler-free existence (hopefully).

Because I need examples, there will be a few common spoilers mentioned below, but I’ll be blocking them out in white text and brackets [like this], so if you want to see them, highlight it with your cursor.

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Life Lessons Learned From Pokémon

One fateful day many years ago, someone handed me a GameBoy Advance and a copy of Pokémon Sapphire, and my life was never the same.

I suppose you could take that in the literal sense – i.e. I became a huge geek after that, and my chances of ever being able to pretend I was a normal human being were completely shot – but I think there’s something more there too, something less tangible and obvious than discovering a new hobby.

The things that are a part of our childhoods often have a bigger impact on us than we realize, but we tend to brush these things off as being “not mature enough” to have any real significance in our lives. We look back at the hobbies we had and the games we played as children and think, “Yeah, that was fun, but it doesn’t really mean anything now.”

But that’s where we’re wrong, readers.

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