Looking back on a great year; for me, at least.

For this week, my final post of the school year, I have decided to reflect upon my short time as a blogger, and some of the posts I have contributed. First off, I want to express how much of a learning experience this has all been for me; I came from a background with strong writing abilities and was writing for my college newspaper, the Woodsworth Howl, as well as for the Varsity. Learning how to blog taught me a new way to connect with an audience and a new style of writing. For anyone that has followed me since September, I am sure you can see a gradual progression over the weeks in both the topics I covered and the way my posts were written. Although this school year has seen me resign as news editor with the Howl and refraining from contributing to the Varsity, I have had a very successful writing year with lifeatuoft, something you could say I really enjoyed. I must admit, some of my blog posts this year have been, well, boring. It takes some work sometimes to gauge what will strike up conversation and interest while challenging students at the same time. This may not be apparent when preparing or writing the post, but it becomes clear when no one comments on my post! I would say that my most successful post, the one that I feel got the most attention, was my post from October 11 in response to Mental Health Awareness. In it, I posted a one-on-one interview with a friend of mine who had been diagnosed as being bipolar when he was 16. I focussed on ways to reduce the stigma surrounding mental health issues, and based on the comments I received, I in some part accomplished this. My November 29th post, in response to World AIDS Day, saw me focus on myths surrounding HIV/AIDS. This subject is very important to me. As I say in the post, HIV/AIDS is not a gay disease; however there are an absurd proportion of gay men in Toronto that are affected by it. I had hoped to spark conversation and once again reduce the stigma surrounding the issue, and although I thought some of the response was controversial, it engaged a dialogue on the topic. Speaking of controversy, there are a couple of my posts that were quite, such as my October 18th post, “Coming Out is So 1995”. I basically used my own experience as coming out as a gay man in Toronto, and about how coming out should be a thing of the past. I had to admit that this is not a general experience across the board, and I may have been an exception to the standard. Nonetheless, I got some good feedback and really showed me that people are actually reading my posts! Finally, my November 22nd post, “Work/Play balance lowest in the country?” sparked some heated debate over why the U of T obtained low marks according to an article in the Globe & Mail. Once again I was reminded that my personal experience may not be the norm, however there were some good points made for both sides of the argument. Overall, I had a great year working for Upbeat, and I totally recommend others try to take part in it at some point in their university experience. Although the deadline has already passed to apply for the next school year, I encourage you to keep a lookout next March for opportunities to contribute. Best wishes to all my readers. -Jon  

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