#279: The Journal

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When I was younger, I used to write in a physical journal, and I carried it everywhere with me. (Have I told this story before? Inevitably, I’m going to repeat myself; not like anyone’s keeping track, but still…)

As someone with low self-esteem and a predisposition towards telling people what they want to hear rather than the truth, my whole life has revolved around pleasing others. But writing is one of my few remaining solitary activities. It’s something I can return to and rediscover my true self and feelings, without reservation. I don’t have to worry about whether or not I truly like something or if I’m just saying I like something to please another person; while writing, I am honest to the only person who consistently reads my writing: myself. Self-esteem doesn’t play a role in my treatment. Everyone deserves the opportunity to discover their voice and allow it to be heard, and a lot has been on my mind lately regarding what I want to do with my life. At age 24, it’s hard not to think of all the ways in which I’ve slowly lost control over things I used to have under control. Appointments, daily routines, large-scale ambitions. Inevitably, all of these things fall apart over time, but I never expected it to be so sudden and apparent to myself.

But that’s a topic for another blog post. Today, I want to solely discuss the act of writing, or keeping a daily journal, as it allows me to flesh out my thoughts in ways I wouldn’t be able to otherwise. In my journals, I am forced to stay consistent with my own thinking, and I don’t allow other voices to intrude on what I ought to write about. The only person I owe anything to with these blog posts is, ultimately, myself, and hopefully that doesn’t come off as selfish to others.

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#278: The Plot Twist

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What do you remember the most from the plot of the most recent piece of media you consumed? Probably the climax. It’s the pivotal moment of the story, what all the narrative has been hinging upon. A story with a middling climax leaves people feeling dissatisfied and, in worst cases, betrayed. Look at how people have reacted to the most recent Game of Thrones season. There was an uproar, almost deservedly so, over the decaying writing quality over the course of the series. Seasons 7 and 8 were seen as low points for the series, whereas the beginning and middle seasons appeared to people as hallmarks of the good old days. It’s almost a shame how the climax left so many people wanting more and expecting higher, though the story was bound to disappoint at least some section of its audience regardless.

But the point here is that people will cling to the story’s end, whatever left the most recent large impression on them. To me, a recent game that had this effect was Fire Emblem: Three Houses. I spent the majority of the story slowly understanding it, but not making too much of an effort to pay attention. When the plot twist came along near the story’s climax, I felt totally unprepared for it because I wasn’t expecting such a major, narrative-shattering moment to appear. I won’t spoil it for people who are reading this but haven’t played the game, but I recommend picking it up for yourself so you can see what I mean. It might have the same effect on you! It definitely has the potential to. The game itself is completely worth picking up, especially if you’re new to the series, as I think it’ll astonish you. A plot twist like the one coming up in this game might leave your mouth agape, waiting to be picked back up from the floor.

#277: The Takeover

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When a game takes over your life, it’s a feeling like no other. Usually this happens when I play games with long playtimes, such as Xenoblade Chronicles, Paper Mario 2, the new Fire Emblem, games of that nature. Long, epic adventures with grand stories to tell. They’re addicting in that I want to reach the end, but I also want to enjoy what I have while I can. I talked about this feeling in my blog post titled “The Delay,” in which I mentioned that I don’t want to beat Persona 5 yet because it would mean the end of my friendships with the characters and fictional story. When a game takes over your life, you have to let it pass over you, and you have to enjoy every minute of it. Thankfully, that’s so easy to do. RPGs make it easy, as there are so many systems you have to understand in order to grasp the game. Mementos, diner dates, social links, activity points, confidant availability, faculty training, fishing and sharing a meal, materia, whatever else there is.

The new Fire Emblem is starting to take over my life in the same way that Persona did, although I’m taking precautions to make sure when school rolls around soon, I’m not too invested that I can’t keep up with work. It’s important to have a healthy balance of fun and work, after all. But that’s one of the reasons why the summer is so difficult to rebound from; you get used to living life one way, and then boom, it’s back to 10 months of intense work.

The title of this blog post was inspired by the song “Take Over,” the new ambush battle theme for Persona 5: Royal. It’s been stuck in my head and I don’t know what to do about it except continue listening!

#276: The Purpose, Part 2

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When I was younger, I was obsessed with the question of whether God was real or not. Now, later in life, I don’t think about that question much if at all because I’ve matured into realizing that, regardless of God’s existence, we still have to try our best in our lives to leave a positive impression on the world. That, whether or not we live in a world governed by a higher power that will judge our actions in the afterlife, it’s still important for us to act justly and morally and ethically always in all the things we do. Don’t cheat, don’t lie, don’t steal. Don’t break promises, don’t act rudely toward other people, don’t lapse into bouts of anger over nothing. Treat others the way you want to be treated.

That’s what our purpose is. Whether or not there is a God, we still must act in a way that is positive. I can only hope that more people adopt this basic philosophy, so that they could stop acting so heinously towards others. Terrorism, white supremacist terrorism especially, is running rampant throughout the United States. Lonely young white boys are posting on anonymous image/message boards, planning attacks on those they feel do not belong inside the made-up boundaries of this country. It makes me sick to think about some of their attitudes, knowing that these are human beings first and foremost, but they’ve forsaken their own humanity.

If humanity is what counts, then be the best human you can be during your life, and the rest will follow. Always work towards justice and righteousness, and never allow intolerance and bigotry to fester around you. There is a world out there for us to create that allows everyone to be treated equally, but it’s a monumental task, and it won’t be easy.

#275: The Purpose, Part 1

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I haven’t written metaphorically in a while, and I want to remedy that with some thoughts about purpose and life.

A lot of us go through life wondering what our purpose is, why we’re here, what reason we have for being alive. I don’t mean that to sound depressing. What I’m saying is, in an existential sense, there may not be a strong, set-in-stone purpose to our lives, and that might be a good thing. Isn’t it better to be free of a greater obligation, so that you can determine your own course in life? Though our lives are, in no small way, impacted by our location of birth, race, gender, sexuality, and a host of other factors, I’d like to believe in the perhaps fairytale-like dream that we still live in a world in which you can freely pursue (but not necessarily achieve) whatever career or profession you want. I completely understand that that may not be true for everyone, especially those who are wrongfully and tragically persecuted and judged by the intolerant, but I will persist in delusion for the time being if it’s my sanity at stake.

Some people, when confronted with this dilemma, look to religion and bolster their faith in a higher power, while others look inward and reflect on the lives they’ve touched, the bonds they’ve created, and the worlds they’ve visited and explored. I don’t think either option is wrong, but I think, at least for me, I’m looking in the latter direction, personally. I like to travel, I like to socialize with people who are good listeners, and I like to reflect on my experiences. I think those things alone are meaningful and significant to me, and I can find purpose in living, knowing that my experiences are meaningful in and of themselves.

#274: The Delivery Box

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I get excited when I find an email saying that we’ve got a package in the mail, or at the delivery room downstairs. Alex does too. It’s a sign that something we ordered online has arrived at our apartment, and with how much online ordering we do between the two of us, we are more often than not expecting at least one or two things to be delivered in a given week. Groceries; dog food, toys, and snacks; underwear and/or comfortable t-shirts; coffee from our favorite Boston-based coffee shop; something Alex forgot on the grocery list; whatever our Amazon wishlist includes for the month; and, last but not least, clothes.

In particular, I want to talk about StitchFix, and no I’m not being paid to write about them. (Although, if they happen to read this and are interested, I’m not opposed either!) StitchFix is a clothing delivery service that allows you to try on new clothes at home, send back what you don’t want, and keep whatever you like and can afford. Though the individual prices are usually a bit expensive, the $20 deposit box fee rolls into whatever clothing purchase you make. And on top of that, you’re being serviced by a personal stylist, who’s on top of your fashion interests and the brands you tend to work best with. You can leave notes to the stylist in advance, such as “comfortable business casual/work clothes meant for summertime,” and they’ll send you options to choose from that are perfectly tailored to that note. It’s a wonderful service that’s gotten both Alex and I some new additions to our wardrobes. I’m currently wearing an A1 blue-striped hoodie while I write this, and I got it from my first StitchFix box. I also picked up two new pairs of pants this most recent time, which is exactly what I was hoping to get from the box.

#273: The Twitter, Part 2

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This blog post is a continuation of a previous blog post, so if you haven’t read that one, you may want to go back and do that first.

Most importantly, there’s joy in being able to share in online experiences with other people. I’m happy to share details about myself, though I wish I were more talented in the ways of art or drawing or video editing, so that I could be of a better use to the fandoms that I claim membership of. I’ve recently started talking with more people on Twitter who are part of the Persona fandom, and it’s been fantastic thus far. We may even play some Monster Hunter: World together sometime in the future. I look forward to whatever that has in store. It’s exciting to think about.

Twitter is there for cultivating friendships, and I’m thankful for its existence in that respect. I don’t know where I’d be without some of the friends I’ve made on that site.

Using Twitter, though, is like staring into the abyss; you never quite know what you’ll find inside it, but you’re interested enough to stare into that black mass anyway. You look because you’re bored, or craving some kind of excitement or news or something. You want to be thrilled again. Having a Twitter in and of itself is great for networking and communication, but not always there for professional purposes, as evidenced by the fact that I haven’t used my professional teacher account very much so far. I think that the main purpose of the site is to keep yourself occupied while you want to be occupied by it; if you aren’t interested in what Twitter has to offer, it’s pointless. But the catch is that you cultivate the feed yourself, so you create whatever the site has to offer, if that makes any sense. It’s a conundrum.

#272: The Twitter, Part 1

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Having a Twitter is, in some ways, a blessing and a curse. It provides you with endless entertainment, memes, news, or whatever you really want to fill your feed with, but on the other hand, it can be a deadly distraction. You might be tempted to keep scrolling through your Twitter feed even while new tweets keep coming up, and you might be tempted to wait and see how your group chat feels about the recent news. I’ve already written about how wonderful it is to have a group chat available with friends from all types of backgrounds and interests and hobbies, but today I want to focus more specifically on what having a Twitter feels like, how it affects the day-to-day.

On a given day, I probably check my various Twitter accounts at least three or four times, some accounts more than others. It depends on what I post and whether it’s attracting any attention, too. Sometimes, if people are responding more to my tweets, then that means I’ll be on the app more than usual. I don’t frequently check my teacher account because I don’t frequently post there, but on my hobby account and my private account, I post much more often. I have made and met some friends there already, reminding me of what it was like to do so years ago, during my senior year of undergrad, when I first met the friends that would later form the group chat I have. I look forward to potentially having more group chats to share in, and I look forward to meeting new people online.

As a teenager, I made lots of friends online, so I feel familiar with this whole process. But it’s still a bit nerve-wracking at first, not really knowing anyone who you’re talking to really.

#271: The Aether, Part 2

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Aether is paramount to understanding the Final Fantasy story, though. If I were to introduce you to its boundless lore, I wouldn’t know where to start, partially because I don’t have a lot of familiarity with it and partially because I haven’t been paying a deep amount of attention into the lore thus far. Because it’s all still early game progression to me, I haven’t been reading quest text as diligently as I sometimes do in World of Warcraft. Others I know who rarely, if ever, read quest text have said that the Final Fantasy XIV lore is worth getting into, but I still remain unconvinced for the time being. It’s just so much to take on all at once, so much to understand with no real application benefit.

I do appreciate having a lot of lore, though, and I think a great MMORPG requires it in order to function well, in order to feel like a vast, unexplored world to conquer and adventure through. It’s one of the big appeals of World of Warcraft, to me; but also, I know the general lore of WoW and could definitely explain it to someone if they were interested to hear about it. It’s completely buckwild, but it’s fun and it takes up a vast space in my memory regardless. That’s what I get for playing that game for so many hours and days and years of my life.

But sometimes, when you’re playing multiple games at once, the burden of understanding so many different lores and universes and the laws of their individual universes is a lot. Like, for example, I’m currently playing through Fire Emblem: Three Houses as well, and in that game, there are crests, units, kingdoms, castles, so many things to understand about the world. But I can’t simultaneously keep that in my head while also trying to learn about Final Fantasy’s vast, open world, if that makes sense.

#270: The Aether, Part 1

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Aether, in the world of Final Fantasy, is an advanced form of energy, or magic, that permeates all life. It allows everything to exist in harmony, and with it, all life is able to function.

Common to many fantasy or science fiction worlds, the concept of an all-encompassing life force is not exactly original or groundbreaking in any sense. But Final Fantasy is, arguably, the series that created or at least heavily inspired this concept, and every game in the series, despite different settings, characters, stories, etc., includes the same general rules of nature. Its lore doesn’t precede Lord of the Rings, but not many recognizable fantasy series can make that claim. However, it’s a series I have had little experience with. I have honestly never played a Final Fantasy game beyond Final Fantasy XIV, the MMORPG. While all games in the Final Fantasy series are role-playing, not all games in the series are single-player. There are Versus games, for example.

But, unless you count a close familiarity with the characters of Kingdom Hearts as a decent tie-in to Final Fantasy as a series, I have no connection to it. That’s one of the reasons I was excited to try Final Fantasy XIV for the first time, and another reason why I’ve stuck with it for a bit. On the one hand, I have friends who play the game, and the social aspect of gaming is essential to me. but on the other hand, I have World of Warcraft, another MMORPG that I’ve invested a decent amount of time into already. There isn’t a supreme need for me to replace that with another MMORPG. I guess what I’m saying is, to move from one to another is a big task, and it’s not exactly easy. While the systems might be similar, the flow of the game will be completely different just in combat alone.