Journal in Public #1 – Life is Not a Video Game

Last night, in the midst of an anxiety episode, I wrote the following text message:

“No more nice days for me. I never do anything right or good enough. Never say the right thing. Can’t take care of myself or anyone else.I make a big deal out of everything. My opinions and expectations are unrealistic. I’m a drain on everyone and everything around me. I add nothing to life or society.”

And that’s truly how I felt when I was writing it. It’s how I feel a lot of the time.

Which brings me to my love of video games.

I’ve been playing video games since I was about six years old. I guess that makes it about thirty years now. Wow.

I’ve always loved adventure and role-playing games. Final Fantasy, Legend of Zelda… things like that.

There are a whole lot of reasons why I like playing video games. They’re fun, they’re artistic, they’re cinematic, the good ones tell a great story… Good vs. evil, rescuing a damsel in distress, transforming a character from ordinary to extraordinary.

I could go on.

As I got older, I thought about how no matter what happens in a video game, there’s always a reset button.

Life has no reset button. That’s the fatal flaw in that approach.

Lately, I’ve realized what really attracts me to games, aside from the things I’ve already mentioned.

It’s the constraints.

No matter how open the world of a video game is, there’s still a short list of things you can do. Tasks to accomplish, goals to achieve, areas and worlds to visit, enemies to defeat, items to collect and upgrade, characters to meet… and ultimately, an ending. If you’re lucky, there’s even a map to help you on your way.

Sometimes there’s a TON of stuff to do. Especially in role-playing games. But even then, there is a limit to how much you can do, how much you can accomplish, and how long the game is.

Life isn’t like that, either.

Yes, there are constraints. But a good chunk of those are made up in our own minds or impressed on us by other people.

Whatever the case, it’s very easy to get lost in life. The consequences are grave in that we only get one life, but it doesn’t feel that way.

Life is long. It’s easy to get lost. There are seven billion other people on the planet for you to meet.

And after a certain age, no one tells you what to do anymore. It’s all up to you.

That can be terrifying. It can be frustrating. Depression, anxiety, failure. Success, riches, accomplishments. It’s all out there, and if you live in a free country like I do, it’s mostly there for the taking if you take the right actions to get there.

I’m lost. I’m finding my way, but I need to find myself some constraints before too much longer. I have a lot of things I want to accomplish, and I need to get moving. Gotta make my own map, pick a direction, and go.

Life is long, but it’s not a video game.