Offended much?

Here’s a topic I never thought I’d discuss again. This image seems to be making the rounds in certain places on social media.

Maybe what I’m about to say is an unpopular opinion, but I’m certain if you’re getting offended by someone else’s personal achievements, that’s entirely a “you” problem.

While it’s not something that’s ever crossed my mind, yes, I’d say I beat teen pregnancy too if I was asked as question where that an appropriate answer. Why not? I didn’t hate teen parents. In fact, I was friends with a teen mother in high school. Never looked down on her. But I certainly didn’t want her situation. Someone who says “I beat teen pregnancy” is saying it wouldn’t have been a good situation for them. Maybe it was a good situation for you. Great. But that’s not a situation that is good for everyone. Speaking for myself, I was heavily suicidal in my teens and I did think about having a child in high school for the sake of having someone who loved me. Bad reason to have a child. Very bad. Depression screws with your mind. Thankfully, logic beat out that idea and I made it out of my teens with no child in tow. That’s a personal achievement for me, not a slight against teenage parents.

Granted, “achievement” is not what I’ve really ever thought of it as, but I’m not unhappy to have not been a parent in my teens, so that’s the closest word to describe it in this context. The same applies to other aspects of life. I’ve never stepped foot in a bar or club, or had a drink of alcohol, but I don’t hate people who enjoy those activities. I just want nothing to do with them.

Two of my friends graduated university earlier this year with their bachelor’s degrees, one in biochemistry and the other in psychology. Meanwhile, I just started attending trade school four months ago after spending almost two years in retail and I am dying for it to be over. If my friends say “I’m glad I went to college right after high school” or “I’m not a college dropout”, I don’t take that as a slight against me because it is not about me. They are talking about themselves. My sister just went through a break-up after being with her boyfriend for two years. My boyfriend and I have been together for almost four years (though it has been a very bumpy road). If I say “I’m glad we never broke up” or “I’m glad we’ve been together all this time”, that’s entirely in reference to my boyfriend and myself, and zero to do with my sister because I am not talking about her.

Let’s also not forget parenthood isn’t always the best thing to happen to someone, and some people don’t realize that until after they become parents. There are absolutely parents who walk out on their children, do not properly care for them, let it be known the parents resent them, and at worst, outright kill them. And while I don’t doubt parenthood is fulfilling for many, I’ve heard even happy parents say the “kodak moments” are only 10% of parenthood (some say 5, some say 1). Take that for what you will.

Also, on the internet, where a single post can reach millions of people, what are really the chances the creator of the post is referring specifically to you?

The Point of No Return

I paid off the remainder of my school balance. I wasn’t planning to pay it off all at once, but another round of loans was added and it brought the balance down so low, I figured I may as well just get it over with. However, I’m now almost $10,000 in debt for student loans.

If I had any thoughts of quitting, that would’ve shattered them. At the same time, it reignites my anxiety about school as a whole.

The point of putting myself through all of this is having a job in this field, so I’ll no longer be dependent on retail and can finally move toward being financially independent. But what if that does not happen? My school is having a career fair in a few days and, despite being told some employers will wait on a student to finish their schooling, that sounds too good to be true. What if no one is interested in my resume? Or I fail an interview? In fact, interviewing is my worst fear in regards to getting a job because I am terrible at speaking. I struggle to verbally say what I mentally want to, even when I know what I’m talking about, and the result is I trip over my words. I am already at a disadvantage because I do not have a business suit and while my school does let students borrow one, it depends on what’s available from donations. They do not have business suits collecting dust in a closet, waiting to hand them out. I’m genuinely worried that alone will kill first impressions of me.

There is no point in quitting school at this point, but if my worst fear is realized – zero change in how employable I am, and being qualified for nothing beyond retail – making all this stress and debt to have been for absolutely nothing, I think I will finally give up on life. I won’t say I’ll kill myself (maybe not right then…), but I won’t have the will to try anymore and I don’t see what good I can contribute to society as a burden who can’t do more than ring a cash register.

The anxiety over so much time, effort, and money being sunk into school being worthless and being crushed by a mountain of debt I would’ve foolishly acquired genuinely made me feel physically sick some time ago. And no, yelling “it will be worth it” is not of any help because nobody knows that, including myself. I don’t know if it will be worth it any more than anyone else does. Only time can tell me if it will be worth it and, were I religious, I’m almost certain I’d be praying every night time was on my side. Even as I type this post, I genuinely feel myself wanting to break because I want that badly for everything to have been worth it. If only wanting something guaranteed you get it (I want to be 14 years old again for the youthful appearance, but that’s not happening).

Yep. This is a perfect representation of my face 95% of the time.

My Guilty Conscience

Recently, I used Amazon for a purchase.

I stopped using Amazon some years ago because they don’t accept PayPal and, much more serious and atrocious, they’re infamous for treating their warehouse workers like garbage.

Unfortunately, a desire to save some money on a graphics tablet and its unavailability for the same price elsewhere led me to their website. They lost my package, but they refunded the shipping cost, gave me a promotional credit, and resent out the package (I only asked for the last option). Their customer service is wonderful, but that makes my conscience worse.

I do not want to support a company that treats its workers horrendously. At the same time, it doesn’t matter whether I use Amazon or not. They’re big enough, and successful enough, that most people don’t care about those workers, and would I may as well be a speck of dirt in comparison to their customer base. Yet, my conscience still doesn’t let me off the hook.

Yes, I feel guilty about buying from Amazon. I desperately hope the customer service representatives are treated well, or using their services will be on my conscience as well. That said, all workers should be treated well without exception. Despite what I just said above about knowing lack of my business with them means nothing, I doubt I will use Amazon again after I receive the package they lost due to my conscience eating away at me.

I recently read an article where, in response to criticism of how their workers are treated, Amazon responded by saying they pay their workers more than most retailers. The problem has zero to do with money, and that combined with my conscience is more than enough for me to avoid Amazon after they deliver my package. I only wish I could make more of a difference than not giving them my business (which, again, makes no difference at all).

Jealousy

This is probably the pettiest post I’ve ever written for this blog, and if it’s not, I’m scared to search through my archives and find what is.

The gist of it is: My boyfriend makes more money than me and I’m mad.

Yeah, that’s it.

Okay, that’s not really it, but most people wouldn’t read beyond that. If you’ve read this far, I assume you’re willing to, so I’ll explain.

It’s not him personally. It’s that the only reason he makes more than me is he lives in a state with a higher minimum wage than the one I reside in, and we’re both paid only $2 above our states’ respective minimum wages. The cost of living is higher is in his state, but our living situations make that factor irrelevant on both sides.

I suppose that doesn’t make how I feel better. He doesn’t make the minimum wage laws, and I’m certainly not trying to insinuate he shouldn’t make a livable wage (I am very much in favor of raising the minimum wage nationwide; no, I don’t think having to work a low-skills job means someone should be unable to afford food, clothes, and shelter). My frustration is when it comes to our personal situations, the only reason he makes more than I do by chance. He happens to live in a state with a higher minimum wage than me. He works hard – I’ll never deny that – but I work hard as well, and knowing that is what sparks the jealousy to begin with.

Since I am the worst person at hiding my feelings, he knows this and I unintentionally made him feel bad. Of course, he shouldn’t feel bad, but I could’ve said nothing and he still would’ve figured it out (note: he’s very good at sensing something’s wrong with me; where and when he picked that up, I’m also clueless). I confess I also feel bad because when I was the only of us making money, he felt guilty I paid for most of our outings and constantly insisted on paying me back, despite my protests he doesn’t have to (thankfully, he hasn’t tried to pay me back for all of that; paying for our outings wasn’t a loan!). I’m happy he does have a job and he is making money, especially since his self-worth was crumbling before he was, but I’m bitter about the reason he makes more than I do.

I guess in the end, almost everyone has something that gives them an edge, even a tiny one. Now, if I could only find mine.

Knock-knock, knock-offs

I haven’t had much to do with anything art-related in a long time. A constant schedule of school, work, studying, and tiredness makes that difficult. Nevertheless, I managed to squeeze a little time in to start playing on my art tablet again. It’s a year old, but still works without issue. However, to some artists, casual and professional (probably especially professional), my graphics tablet has an ongoing problem that can never be fixed:

It’s not Wacom.

Let me explain. Wacom is considered by many artists, if not most, to be the best of graphics tablets, similar to how Apple is considered superior when it comes to mobile devices. It’s to the point any tablet that isn’t Wacom is seen as a “cheap, Chinese knock-off” (never mind many American products are manufactured in China…) that isn’t worth any real artist’s time. There are some artists who go so far as to say you shouldn’t bother with digital art if you don’t have a Wacom tablet.

There are two problems with this. First of all, a tablet, no matter what brand it is, does not make someone a good artist. A graphics tablet makes artwork easier, not better. Only skill does the latter. Using a top-of-the-line tablet will not turn a beginner into an expert. Insisting someone shouldn’t bother with art because they can’t attain a Wacom tablet, or any tablet, is absolute nonsense.

Second, being a “knock-off” doesn’t automatically make a product inferior. Many artists look into alternatives to Wacom for the price (much like Apple, Wacom’s tablets are very pricy) because, simply put, some people have a tight budget and a pricy tablet isn’t high on their list of priorities. In addition to that, every technology has its flaws. I’ve found as many complaints about Wacom as I have praise for it (mostly related to their customer service and to their tablets’ drivers), and the same can be said for any other brand of, well, anything. Using Apple again as an example, google “Apple versus Android” and get some popcorn. I wonder what side you’re on when you have Apple and Android (I have an Android phone and an Apple iPad Pro with the Apple pencil). My point is going for an inexpensive alternative does not always mean you’re sacrificing quality to save money.

Going back to art tablets, when I first began to look into getting one, I was dead set on getting Wacom’s Cintiq 13HD because of how much Wacom was praised as being the best. At the time, this tablet cost $800 and I actually did go for it. However, it did not go well and twice, I had to contact Amazon for a refund due to third-party sellers (the only way you can purchase it from Amazon). After that crashed, I got some advice from a very helpful user who taught me about Wacom alternatives and had even created a detailed list of them (and the list includes Wacom). In the end, I settled on the tablet I currently own, one called Artist 10S 10.1” from XP-Pen. There is a second version of it released now, but as I said, it still works without issue and I have zero gripes with it. That said, I decided to purchase XP-Pen’s newest tablet, their Artist 12, while it’s on sale and my Artist 10S is going to my best friend when my Artist 12 arrives. I could afford a Wacom tablet, even their most expensive one (via credit cards) I linked to above, which is $3,300, but XP-Pen is cheaper, good quality, and satisfies me, so why should I switch (other than for the experience)?

Note I do not hate Wacom or fans of their products. That’s not what I take issue with. I take issue with the idea Wacom is the only good brand of tablets, or you’re not a real artist if your tablet didn’t come from Wacom. I confess to still wanting to try Wacom myself, if only for the sake of knowing if I would personally prefer it to XP-Pen (if my experience with Apple and Android is anything to go by, probably not; take a guess at my preference between those two, despite owning both). Plus, is it really a good idea to promote the concept that tools make the artist instead of the other way around?

(Side note: XP-Pen is a Japanese company, not Chinese. If it’s a knock-off, it’ll be a “cheap, Japanese knock-off”.)