What cause do you stand for?

We all have a part to play in this world. Some choose to play a positive role, some choose negative, and some prefer to be indifferent. That will always be the case so long as we have free will. To those who want to make this world a better place, I thank you. We all come from different backgrounds, and we all have had different events, experiences, and people affect us. It is an amazing thing that no two people are exactly alike in every way. There is always something that separates us, something that makes us unique, and we should embrace that. Our differences should be things we learn and grow from, not fight and bicker about constantly.

Technology and social media has allowed us to spread our beliefs and opinion across the world in a matter of seconds. In minutes, thousands can rally to a cause and provide much needed support for those in need or bring awareness to an issue that’s been swept under a rug too long.

What is painful to see are the people who rally and target others who do not share the same level of drive and passion as they do. “You don’t care about this cause? You’re heartless and you’re a horrible person” is the general concept. Just because someone doesn’t pour their entire being into something you believe, it doesn’t make them a bad person.

You support a cause that fights to get rid of domestic violence? That’s great and your efforts should be commended. And what about the person who is pouring the same amount of effort into a cause that’s directed at stopping pollution that is killing our food and water supply? Or the person that fights for gay rights? Or the person who wants to see a world where animals are no longer abused and left for dead? What about the person who hopes to see a cancer free world? And the person who wants a better education for the future generations? Or how about those who never want children to go hungry? And what of the person who does all he/she can to support our troops?  ALL of these causes have one thing in common: to make the world a better place.

Each of us will gravitate toward certain causes based upon our own life experiences. Personally, I want to see every dog in a happy home, a place where they don’t have to fear being left behind or tortured or beaten. I want families who have children diagnosed with terminal illness to be able to afford treatment. I want men to stop beating the women in their lives. I want bullies to be held responsible for the treatment they have bestowed upon others. I want misogyny to stop. I want women to be fearless when chasing their dreams. I want people who have suicidal thoughts to know they are not alone. I want my gay friends to be just as happy as anyone else.

Is a cause you stand for not in my personal list? Do you believe I am a bad person for not sharing your passion? Just because I may not have the same drive for something as you do, it doesn’t mean we both cannot work together to improve the state of our world. More than anything, I want people to have empathy. I want someone to be able to step back, look at my list, and apply some thought as to why these items are important to me. You may learn something, not just about me, but possibly of yourself as well.

Everyone has something they want to fight for. It is impossible to devote all of one’s energy and life to everything in this world that needs improvement. Exert your energy to the cause you want to see become a reality. No one fight is better than the other when the goal is the same. We may be on different teams, but we have the same dream. Let’s make this world a better place than when we first arrived, shall we?

Obligatory Thanksgiving post, but seriously… thank you for being in my life and ultimately saving it

Cliche opening statement: IT’S THAT TIME OF YEAR AGAIN!

Many of us Americans celebrate today differently. Some of us get the old Christmas tree out of storage and set it up, some of us begin cooking for family and friends at 6AM, others prefer to be alone on this holiday, and some of us are camped outside retail stores to get their hands on the best deals. To non Americans, this is just another Thursday.

So for those of us who are enjoying the Thanksgiving holiday, I do want to ask you, do you spend the rest of the year being as grateful as you are today? I think it’s safe to say that I’ve hit the midpoint of my life, and there is one thing that I have been determined to do: to leave a legacy. Now making an impact in the world doesn’t mean you have to be someone who has won a Nobel Prize or become CEO of a Fortune 500 company. While that influence is amazing, you can change the world slowly in your everyday life.  Think about your decisions, how you affect people. Your existence has a very far reach whether you realize it or not. Every word you say, every gesture you make, every interaction you have influences people. As today is Thanksgiving, I want you to think about the following:

The people you are currently texting and reaching out to on Facebook/Twitter/other social media platforms… when was the last time you really had a conversation with them? Has it been a while? Why not take some time to catch up after the holidays?

How are you treating strangers?

Are you more focused on presents or people?

Are you more focused on money or family?

What are you most thankful for at this moment in life? Is it different than last year? Why?

Lots to think about, and you don’t have to comment or answer here. Those are questions I hope you take with you through not only today but every day of your life. I have come to a realization in my recent years and I have accepted the nature of my being. I am most happy when the people in my life are happy. The feeling you have now, being incredibly thankful for all that you have, please don’t lose that after the holiday season. Feel that way every day. Don’t take the people in your life for granted; don’t take what you have for granted. Feel this way every day for the rest of your life and you will feel that much more fulfilled.

And I won’t lie, going down this path is not without its hardships. It can be difficult, especially if it is not reciprocated, but trust me when I say that you personally are rewarding yourself to the fullest. Be a good person, be grateful, treat others as you would want to be treated, and be the change you want to see in this world. When you are gone (and we all will be one day), what will your legacy be? What influence will you leave behind in this world? Me, personally? I hope that I will have taught future generations empathy because my personal belief is that the world will be a much better place with it around.

I have met so many people in the last few years, and I cannot imagine my life without them. My life is enriched, it’s more fun, it’s become less empty. I have had many low days and without any regard for themselves, the people in my life have lifted me up. That bond is so precious to me and I will never be able to fully express how thankful I am for it. You guys ARE my life. So thank you.

May you always give thanks, may you always be thanked, and may you always lead a fulfilling life.

Cheers.

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Does race matter? Yes and no.

If you have been following me on Twitter for a while, you know that I am a huge fan and an active community member for Rooster Teeth. RT is a production/video game type company based in Austin, TX, and they are best known for the web series Red vs Blue. They’ve grown so much in the last few years that they’ve expanded their company to include an array of online content, so they create weekly recap videos to give fans a run down of what was uploaded during the current week. Last week, I was asked to submit  a short video that will be featured in Rooster Teeth’s weekly recap video. JJ, a very talented video editor who works for RT, asked if I was interested in submitting something for a fan created recap vid, and I was more than ecstatic. I recorded my bit, sent it in, and waited anxiously for the finished product.

The video can be seen here. RT is known to show an enormous amount of fan love, so for this to be compiled and showcase fans from all over the world was amazing. I was incredibly happy and honored to be a part of it. Then I saw this comment.

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I honestly laughed and just shrugged it off. Clearly, I do not lack pigmentation, so I thought nothing of it. But then I started reading more comments that went from “glad to see RT is so diverse in who they choose to put in their vids” and the one seen above.

Should race matter? In this case, no. I don’t feel that it should at all. At the very core, we are all RT fans. It shouldn’t matter what our gender is, what color our skin is, or where we are from when it comes to loving the same thing. A community, especially one that reaches all over the world, encompasses such a variety of people from all different backgrounds and that is what makes this community so beautiful and special. A handful of people were picked and chosen for this recap video because JJ felt we were reliable, would work well together, and he wanted the video to showcase a balance of male and female RT fans.

Should race matter in general? I will say, yes, and hear me out before you jump to the “but we should all be equal” standpoint. What I mean by race should matter is that I am proud to be of Asian descent. With my upbringing came a lot of cultural influences like traditions and food. I’m half Chinese, half Japanese, so there’s a lot of history with who I am and where I come from. It’s part of my identity. I am also a woman (spoiler alert!), and I am proud to be one. And there are instances when I don’t care that I am reminded I am a woman. Here’s an example of what I mean.

Over the years, there has been a very interesting shift in the perception of the “girl gamer.” When I was a teenager, I was labeled as a girl gamer, and it was fun and cool, and offered a lot of opportunities to talk to other gamers whether they be male or female.  Back in the day, the girl gamer was almost looked upon as the holy grail (there were not as many female gamers back then). Call a woman a girl gamer now, and she may actually be insulted. Why? Because, you specify that she is a woman plus she is a gamer. Some women just like being called gamers; they want to be thought of on equal ground as male gamers. To me, it doesn’t matter either way. I’m a woman, and I love video games. Nothing will change that no matter what you call me. When I hear someone call me a girl gamer, I think, “hell yeah. I’m a woman. And I game. That makes me doubly awesome,” and I think nothing else of it. That label isn’t insulting me, in fact, it empowers me. A lot of women will not agree with me on that point, but that’s how I feel.

When you step back and look at yourself, look at all the different roles you play in life, you’ll find that you wear a lot of hats. I’m a woman, I’m Asian, I’m American, I’m a gamer, I’m a dog rescuer, I’m a sister, I’m a daughter, I’m an employee, I’m a friend, I’m a writer.. I am ALL of these things. These identities are pieces to my puzzle and they make me who I am. So when I’m part of a project that allows me to collaborate with a bunch of other people, I’m part of a team. Gender and race don’t matter. But if you ask me who I am and what makes me unique, I will give you a longer list than what I wrote at the beginning of this paragraph. At the end of the day, I’m still Jackie and no one can take that away from me.

Passion vs Profession? Why can’t they be the same thing?

Here is a snippet of a conversation I had with someone close to me:

Me: I want to find a career I am passionate about.

Him: I think you’re confusing passion and profession.

Me: No, I am not. I will have both at the same time because they will be the same thing.

We have a different mindset when it comes to what we would do for a living. To a lot of people, a job is something that puts food on the table, a roof over your head, and it pays the bills, and I am in no way putting that down. I respect people who work to support themselves and loved ones. What I am aiming for is to discuss the difference (to me) between a job and a career. I am working towards a career, a profession that I love that happens to support me financially and emotionally.

I’ve never really been money driven. Money is nice to have, but it doesn’t guarantee wealth. I don’t have to be a CEO of a company in order to be content. I prefer to be happy in everything I do. Whether that is professionally doing what I love or playing with my dogs, I want to find happiness in as many aspects of my life as possible. There is too much negativity out there that strips away your joy, why not work to build a strong foundation in everything that strengthens your smile and heart?

So what type of profession am I seeking? We will have to take a small step back, so I can explain how I got here. My professional experience started shortly after I graduated from college. I found a decent job with great pay (for someone my age at the time), and I’ve been stuck since then. My resumé was shattered because the industry I was in was highly unstable. I’ve been laid off nearly five times in the last seven years. It’s a horrible feeling when you put so much time and effort into a company, and then you are hit with the realization that you are just a number that didn’t fit in the budget for that year.

Last year, I was laid off yet again, but this time it was because the company I worked for was bought out by another one. Many positions were eliminated and I found myself seeking employment again. But in the last year, other personal experiences were shaping me and I didn’t even realize it. I started getting rid of all the negative people in my life, and I began to understand myself better. I realized what I wanted to do with my life, and it wasn’t anything near what I was did in the past. Sometimes, epiphanies have the worst timing, but better that it happen now during a time when I can still take care of myself and evolve into a better person.

I started going to a lot of geeky conventions (something I was unable to do for a number of a years) such as RTX and DragonCon, and my inner nerd was brought back to life. One of my geeky passions is video games. I love games that can take you away, make your mind shut down and bring a completely different world to life. I’ve been hooked on video games since my parents bought us an NES all those years ago, and video games (as far as I’m concerned) will be a part of my life for the rest of my days. So it hit me. I would love to make video games or at the very least, be a part of the gaming industry.

So now what? Making that decision for yourself is a great thing, but now you need to act. I cannot tell you how important it is to network and connect with people in the industry. I can’t speak for all fields of work out there, but I am confident to say that nearly everyone I have met in the VG world has been nothing but supportive and helpful. In the last year, I’ve been very fortunate in meeting some big names out there, and I have learned so much from them. Note that I do not have a job in this field YET, but I would like to share some experiences with you readers that I have found helped me a great deal in this adventure. There are guides out there created by industry leads to help you along the way, but I didn’t find much in relating to people who were on the same page as myself. Here is the start of my journey. Another note, I am in the middle of it.

Answers are out there. Even if you don’t get a chance for personal interaction with the heads of an industry you are interested in, you have the internet. Search for your role model’s blog, vlogs, articles, follow them on Twitter and Facebook. The best thing about this method of self-learning is that it is free. There is a ton of information out there. Take advantage of it. And if you can budget accordingly, I HIGHLY recommend attending panels of these people. Go to a convention and soak up as much information as you can. Conventions are great to have fun and play games, but don’t forget to educate yourself. And yes, you can always Youtube a panel, but don’t pass up a chance to speak to these guys one on one.

Respect your potential mentors. To go along with networking with industry veterans, I will also suggest that you not overwhelm them. Being inspired and motivated by them and their work is awesome, don’t lose that, but understand that they are people as well. While they try to help as many people as possible, they cannot get to every question or inquiry. You don’t want to give off a bad impression before you even get a chance to work with them. Come to them as a student, not a fanboy/girl. I’ve actually seen people go up to veterans and demand that they review their work or resumé. Don’t be that person. No one likes that person. Keep your inquiries to the point, and it might even be helpful to have a business card on hand. If you don’t take yourself seriously, why should they?

Be willing to start at the bottom. You may have great ideas, but you need to earn your stripes. I have had several people tell me that my willingness to do repetitive, menial work from the start is a good attitude to have. Everyone started somewhere. Don’t think that you can just hop into a job and automatically act like a creative director. Learn. I cannot stress that enough, and it is something my father taught me. No matter what you do, there is always something that you can learn. It doesn’t matter if it’s a program or a simple skill as learning how to use a multi-function copier. I am being completely serious about the copy machine. Because so many people view learning hardware as an insignificant “skill”, they refuse to learn how to use it. You know how to use it, and now those people come to you for help. You’ve become valuable. Expand on that idea.

Hook up with people who want to create something as much as you do. I am VERY fortunate to be working with a talented group of people on a project called Fallout Lonestar. If you work on a project like this, you gain experience and knowledge, plus you learn how to collaborate with people which is quite essential in this line of work. You must learn to push for what you believe in as well as learn to sacrifice ideas. Time and time again, developers will tell you that they were hired or have hired those who have created a successful product. Talent and passion go hand in hand, and people recognize that.

Educate yourself. I also had a very productive talk with a few people in the industry recently. As I have narrowed down what it is I truly want to do, I learned that it is also beneficial to invest in a variety of certifications. Some of these classes are pricey, but if you’re serious about pursuing your dream, you won’t think twice about those costs. And education especially these days costs a pretty penny, so decide wisely when determining what knowledge to place under your belt. I love Shakespeare, but he’s not going to help me land a VG job.

Most importantly, don’t give up. It’s so easy to, but I am telling you to keep going. Even if things never seem to go your way, keep on trucking. There have been so many times when I wanted to throw in the towel because I was just overcome with frustration. I became depressed even because I had this realization about myself so late in the game. But friends have told me that I was being silly, and you know what, I was. I can’t change what I’ve done with my life so far, but I can change how it will be shaped in the future. This is not an easy path at all, but can you imagine the reward if you stick with it all the way? Think of that reward when you feel like walking away.

So that’s it. That’s what I’ve learned so far. I’ve gone through every emotion that the Harry Potter series makes you feel while walking down this path. And I’m not doing it for just a job.

 

Confucius Jackie #1

Be the change you want to see in the world are words that I try to live by every day. Some days, I’m quite lazy, and I don’t get much done (staycations are awesome), but when I am active, I try to be the best influence on others I can be.

I received an email from a recently made friend, and it was very touching to me even though that was not the intended purpose of said email. I asked very simple questions about this person because we are collaborating on a project together. “Why this project?” and “what motivated you to start it?” I learned quite a bit about this person and what struck me the most was how seemingly random events tied together to bring us to where we are today. A lot of this was possible because people simply love helping others.

Be kind. Be generous. Be helpful. Be influential. That’s what I took from this email. The first part begins with you. YOU need to go out and ask for help. Nothing can be accomplished unless you take the initiative. But don’t worry when you do. There are others, people who have more experience in whatever field you choose to explore, that are willing to help you. It’s true that some “veterans” won’t bother with a level 1 n00b, but you will be surprised by how helpful and generous others will be. These people love to see newcomers thrive and bloom into their own all because they share the same love.

I love creative people. I love talking to them, collaborating with them, sharing ideas, basking in the love of making something out of nothing. And I will always try to help people who ask for my assistance. Even if I’m not personally able to help, I can hopefully point you in the right direction. The world is crappy enough as it is. Why not focus on the beautiful things we can create? There’s a lot of knowledge out there.

Even if your name is not widely known, you can still influence the people in your life. You may be great at something that someone else is not, and if they ask for your help, share your knowledge with them. Don’t degrade or belittle them because what they don’t know is common knowledge to you. Coach them, guide them, be a constructive and positive force. It can be anything. Perhaps you want to learn how to crochet or change a flat tire, or you want to write a book or start a webseries. Whatever your passion is, whatever it is you want to learn, be happy that there are people out there that want to see you succeed. You just have to make the first step and go for it.

The project I am working on with my friend mentioned earlier will be amazing. And I cannot wait to share it with you guys. And it all started because he had an idea, sought help to make it a reality, built a team, and refuses to see it fail. Those are the kind of people that make life awesome.