[Hello and welcome to Lifeskillpoints! If you’re here, odds are that you’ve met that Lume guy – the writer – in person. I had intended for this to be the first article I publish, but as usual I somehow managed to do things upside-backwards. Well, I’ve come to realize that if I give myself too much time to think about something, it becomes less likely to happen as opposed to me stepping forward and working as I go with a little less planning and more doing. With that being said… here we go! ]
As I write this I can barely find the words to describe the anxiety I feel. Yet I believe the best way to inspire others is to admit and overcome our faults in front of those we wish to inspire.
I consider anxiety to be, essentially, a fear of the future. I sit here at 2:01 in the morning, fighting an internal battle that I will do my best to translate into words. Do you know that feeling in your chest? An almost burning sensation ignited by a thought – sometimes from a memory, sometimes from an ambition – that begins to make your heart race? I sure hope you do, because that’s called passion, and a life without it is that much emptier.
It’s funny how things that seem entirely trivial to others could mean the entire world to us. For me, it’s video games (and if you just said to yourself “wow, seriously?” With some sort of imaginary eyeroll emoji, then you’ve proven my earlier point) It’s taken me well over twenty years to accept the fact that something that began as a hobby soon grew into a passion, and that passion became a crutch.
And that crutch became an addiction.
Addiction. That’s a strong word, the kind that makes people wince in agitation when you accuse them of it, whether true or not. (The kind that, even now, tempts me away from writing this in to go play Skyrim or Paladins on my computer.) It seems like we look down on people who we consider have any kind of addiction. Suddenly they’re a bit less of a person, mentally weaker than the rest of us, and that’s what makes the word so powerful; so much so that we’d refuse to admit – even to ourselves – that we could ever have one. When I tell people I’m addicted to videogames (though it’s not like I go around parading the fact, or that it even comes up often in conversations, “Hi, I’d like to order some fries and did you know I have a crippling addiction? You’d never guess for what!”) I usually get the same responses.
“Hey c’mon, I wouldn’t say you’re addicted.. Just passionate about gaming”
“Don’t say that, that’s not true!”
Or, my favorite.
“Well it could be worse; you could be addicted to drugs.”
Yes, thank you, trivialize the problem by comparing it to a bigger problem. Now I get to choose to either feel incompetent for not easily defeating it, or pretend it’s not a problem because there are bigger things to worry about. Well, at least excuses come with options.
It was reasons like the ones listed above that took me so long to properly realize and address the issue. I had to start by pulling my perspective away from my personal feelings and objectively start observing myself. All my life I’ve been involved with martial arts, drawing, writing, science fiction, music, photography, and videogames. Of all those interests, every project I’ve ever attempted… I have never finished. (In Capoeira, I gained the nickname Vagalume – Firefly- in part because of how often I start and stop… Eventually I stopped doing Capoeira too.) I’d always lose the will to see it through or move on to another project without ever giving my previous endeavor my absolute best effort…
… With the exception of videogames.
Now taking up too much of my time isn’t why I consider my hobby an addiction. I love everything there is about videogames, from the animation and art to the physics and math. From the motion capture to the music and voice acting, there isn’t a single aspect about designing a game that doesn’t thrill me. The problem came from the psychological and emotional attachments I formed as a gamer. No, I didn’t think Mario was more my friend than my actual friends, but I spent far more time hopping through, and learning about a fictional world rather than the real world. I can’t tell you how a bar of soap works, but I could easily explain the anatomy and habitat of a Pikachu. (granted, I’m somewhat sure you couldn’t either before you read this, but we’ll just pretend you did.)
To quote one of my journal entries…
“From the beginning of my conscious life, I’ve always had a problem with doing things the same as others. I learned to imitate and act as my culture and surroundings dictated, but left to my own, exploring life in my uniquely strange way. I was always the weird kid, smart but unusual, with an imagination so powerful that it often overtook my reality. I focused that imagination through videogames, something initially given to me to keep me in the house and off the streets. Keep me safe.
They overwhelmed me.
From Super Mario & Mario Kart on Super Nintendo to Chrono Cross on Playstation, Jet Force Gemini, Wave Race 64, Diddy Kong Racing, Smash Brothers, Star Fox, Metroid, Every Style of Donkey Kong every Pokemon since I was ten years old pretending to be a Pokemon in the school yard with my friends, iteration of Halo, Gears of War, the sleepless nights staying up late eating popcorn and poptarts sleeping over at my cousin’s crib fighting Gil one thousand and twelve times in Third Strike and finally beating him by cheesing him with Elena and then immediately beating him AGAIN with Twelve like it was nothing and wondering what in the fuck to flipping tables in Magic the Gathering (not really but I really wanted to once) to Dragonball Budokai and how Tenkaichi and all of these other tryhard variants will never be as good as the originals to Naruto ultimate Ninja –why the hell did they take out the side-button combos!?- to I wasted money on a PS Vita I never used to Spiderman 2 being the best sandbox game AND movie game of all time to that awesome gamecube game where you could build yoCUSTOM ROBO! To Earth Defence Force being one of the most awesome random games I discovered to Castlevania and that terrible knockoff game that tried to compete with it to games like PN-03 and Vanquish being great games that no one played to Megaman Battlenetwork and when I praised the Nintendgods when the gamelink cable was finally not needed… To now, owning an Xbox1, Ps4, and masterrace PC (and missing my Gameboy camera).
They overwhelmed me.
My life became a routine: Go to school, come home, play videogames. Go to work, come home, play videogames. In between that time, I learned to draw and I became something of a martial artist. I found other interests such as acting and photography, psychology and teaching, but none of those ambitions would have a chance to grow… – not as long as there was another game to beat.”
I sit here now with no consoles before me for the first time in as far back as I could remember. Temptation pulls at me to boot up my PC games, but instead I spent over an hour writing this (it 3:21 currently). The temptation to stop and finish this later has been equally strong. It’s what I know best and what I’m used to. Instead I choose to step away from the safety of my crutch. The only way to calm the sense of anxiety and an odd sense of … Displacement? As if I suddenly have so much time I don’t know what to do with. A part of me feels silly, feels the societal pressure telling me that I’m a grown man and should be able to easily dismiss it. Another part of me, the lazy part that usually has the final say, wants to fill the void with Netflix and Instagram.
But I did what I did for a reason.
Writing this is yet another step in giving in to the creator within me. The producer. With everyone living a unique life, each one of us has things in our mind that only we can bring into reality. I didn’t learn to draw for nothing, and I didn’t spend my whole life around martial arts for the sake of hobby. I’ve spent the majority of my life consuming… Enjoying the things that others have created. It is time to make something of what I’ve learned, to explore the rest of my life beyond videogames.
And… hopefully, make a living in the process.