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Well, my birthday is on Thursday.  Midweek I’ll be 26 – if I make it to the age of 100, that means I’ve lived a quarter of my life already.

I could look at that somewhat negatively, but since I’m already having to miss Taekwondo tonight, I really don’t want to get out of my good mood.  So instead, I’m going to look at what I have accomplished in the 2 ½ decades I’ve been alive.  There’s a little bit of repetition –certain things I’m proud of could be added to others, but I’m particularly proud of them, so they count.

Wrote a 100,000 word novel

Ever since I was old enough to hold a pencil, I’ve wanted to write.  My imagination is something I’ve always been proud of, and after discovering Final Fantasy when I was 14, I became fascinated with long fantasy type fiction.  When I completed Final Fantasy 9, that blossomed into an idea called Guardian.  I started writing it privately, but eventually started posting on Fictionpress.  It took 4 years of planning, plot holes, writers block and physical torture (for a good year, the computer was in the very hot conservatory), but when I was 18, I finally posted the final chapter.

Writing Guardian genuinely changed my life too.  I ended up meeting my best friend through a review he left, who introduced me to anime conventions and pretty much my entire social life.  If I hadn’t written it, I have no idea where I’d be today.

Sadly, because it was planned and composed primarily by the 14 year old me, it’s certainly not publish worthy.  Would need to be gutted and pretty much started from scratch…and I’ve never been able to finish anything original since.  But whenever I think I can’t, I can look at the file and remind myself, that I already have.

Became a Blue Tag in Taekwondo

I was always interested in martial arts, and always thought in the back of my head that I’d like to learn.  However, I never vocalised it.  When I went to university, that though grew again, and I started to look into it.  I even got as far as the door of a karate studio…before backing off and deciding it would be a bad idea.  It was too expensive and I’d probably be no good at it.

It wasn’t until my last year of university, after I was turned down from the JET Exchange program, that the idea came to me again.  They were looking for people with more extracurriculars on their CV’s, and I had tragically few.  I did go swimming, but one day discovered the local pool was closing down.  As I walked out the door and down the street, I passed a building with an advertisement for Taekwondo.  With my current exercise vanishing and a drive to better myself on paper, I took a deep breath and walked in.

I started, and was awful.  Then I had to drop out for a year due to travel issues.  But then I came back, pretty much started from scratch…and I’m still going.  I was slow, awkward, uncoordinated and completely out of my depth.  But I stuck with it, and made it halfway to Black Belt.  Most people quit at Green, but I’m still there.

Visited Japan

Think I mentioned this one before, but it was a big one for me.  I became obsessed with Japanese cartoons and video games when I was 14.  And it’s a passion that stays with me to this day.  But even before then, I loved Asia and how different it appeared from Europe.  My love of the entertainment just made me even more determined to see Japan.  Of course, every single time I looked into doing it, I saw the price and put it back.

Until last year, when I finally managed to budget and plan, and spend 16 glorious days seeing not only the things the Otaku in me had dreamed of, but the culture and history that the little girl had always wanted to see.

Graduated university

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After secondary education, I genuinely had no idea what I wanted to do with my life.  I assumed I would want to do something involving writing, but that was about it.  The choice to go to university is a story in itself (and somewhat negative so we’ll skip that little tale for now).  I ended up attending Robert Gordon University (not as far from home as I would have wanted, but only place that did my degree) for Publishing with Journalism.  This course did help me solidify my opinion on a certain career – I did not want to be a journalist, but publishing was definitely an avenue I’d like to pursue.

I ended up not only being the first person in my family to graduate university, but along with my dissertation, I managed to achieve the highest degree possible, 1st degree honours.

Stayed consistently employed

Considering we’re in a recession, I think this is something I can be rightfully proud of.  Ever since I was 14, and my Stepfather came to me and said he had a job opening in his store, I have been in constant employment.  First was 4 years of what was essentially hell.  Working as a cashier in a store that sold car parts – which was not only something I had no interest in, but I was the only girl…well, till I managed to get a few friends into employment too.  But I hated every second of it.

However, as a young female still at school in a relatively small town, there were only so many employment opportunities.  So I stuck with it until university, after which I managed to wrangle a job in a supermarket deli, eventually being transferred to the Fresh Food and Pre Pack (FFPP) department where I stayed for the better part of 7 years (part time as a student, full time while looking for other employment, then part time again).  Finally left when that and my proper full time job became too much for me.

Sadly, this streak might end this year should I end up leaving the country, but to spend nearly 11 years without a single day of unemployment is still something of an achievement.

Seen 4 continents

I have always had 2 goals.  Get published.  Travel the world.  The first one is still taking some doing, and I’ve accepted I’ll probably never be able to just take a year and go a wandering.  But in the last few years I’ve managed to visit somewhere new, and now I’ve seen more of the world than both my parents combined.  I’ve been to America, Europe, Asia and Australasia, and the number of countries I’ve visited was taken up to 13 last year (not including England and Wales!).  These include Spain, America, Singapore, Kuala Lumpur, Australia, Japan, France, Switzerland, Austria, Germany, Amsterdam, Italy, and Belgium.

Won Senior White/Yellow belt Competitor of the Year in 2010Image

Probably not as impressive as it sounds, but meant a lot to me at the time.  Every year my Taekwondo Academy hosts an Awards Night, and the first year I attended, I won an award for ‘Perseverance’ – which was pretty awesome.  The second year, I won the best competitor for my class/belt.  To be fair, there was only one other competitor, but considering how many White and Yellow belts were in the class who didn’t compete, it’s still a decent award.  I also managed to win by winning one more medal than the other competitor.

Learned Sign Language

Language has never been my best subject.  I studied French for 6 years, and Spanish for 1, and I still can barely speak a word.  I can understand quite a bit, but speaking it is beyond me.

However, just before I left the supermarket job, there was a training course on basic sign language made available to certain employees.  I decided to give it a shot, and really got into it.  It took 10 weeks, each with two hour classes, and by the end I could more or less ‘speak’ all the words we’d been taught relatively fluently.  Something I would really like to continue learning, and a lot easier to learn than vocal languages.

Got 2 Tattoos

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My mother gave me two rules when it came to tattoos:

  1. DO NOT GET A TATTOO
  2. If you MUST get a tattoo, make sure it’s somewhere I don’t have to see it.

I didn’t follow Rule number 1.  Though did try to follow number 2.  At the moment I have the image above on my lower back, memorialising my teen years (the shuriken is the symbol of ‘Guardian’ and the wings have a story to them), and a phrase tattooed just above my ankle.  Planning to get more, but still need to finalise designs, then go through the waiting period (I like to pick a design, then wait 6 months to see if I still want it – if it’s going on your body, you’d better be sure it’s what you want.

Began Attending Anime Conventions

I was really struggling to come up with a number 10.  However, given how much of my life I devote to them, I think I need to add my anime convention attendance to my achievements.

Why?  Because of them, I have an active social life; I have begun learning several new craft skills, and increased my self confidence.  Cosplay has helped me with sewing, prop making, and actually wearing something I’ve worn, often made of less fabric than I’d normally wear, has made me so much happier with my self image.

They’ve also made me more interested in memorialising the good things in life.  I record a lot of the panels and events, which are then posted online for the enjoyment of people who missed them, or want to see them again.  I do it voluntarily, and I don’t always get a lot of credit for it, but it does make me feel like a valued member of the community (especially considering a lot of my friends are well known for their cosplay, their photography, or help with the actual running of the cons).

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