I mean, it was mostly not through choice. We needed to make sure we would make it through the year financially. Sure, an exotic cat was added to the family in 2019, but other than that, we were careful. Frugal. Thing is, I got lazy and complacent. I found the smallest possible reason to take a year off from personal development. One final hurrah, I figured, an escape from reality for a bit. For a few months there I tried my hand at being one of those online videogame streaming people. I failed miserably, which was probably for the best to be honest. I got an Xbox One X, an Elite controller, an external solid state hard-drive and a copy of Destiny 2… And I was sleeping for five hours a night at one point, but I was trying to break through as a streamer! But I was so tired! I was literally falling asleep at work while standing at the desk. It was miserable. I wasn’t even that tired when Jake was a baby.
The streaming market is saturated with people wanting to make a living off playing games, and unless you can devote a crazy amount of time, you’re not going to make it.
It’s a paradox.
To be able to afford to stream full-time so you can maximise your exposure and “make it”, you need to earn a wage somewhere else to support yourself. But if you’re working full-time then you can’t be extremely online, and thus the probability of you being able to live off streaming is much lower. Those that do it as a hobby are probably in the best spot – they are under no illusions they will become millionaires, and they do it to build communities around their shared passions. I think that basically I liked the idea of getting paid to play games, but not actually wanting to interact with the kind of people that watch streams. I made a separate Twitter account for streaming and I interacted with streamers and fans of certain games and I came to realise that I didn’t really want to build a community with those people.
What I came to realise was this:
I like to unwind by playing a videogame now and again, and this is a bit of an incongruence on my part, but I just don’t like people that take gaming *too* seriously. I was there once, and at the time it was great. But obsession with a fantasy life is dangerous. When you’re not living in the real world, it causes problems. I paid the price for not living in reality. Half a life wasted because I couldn’t differentiate. Put too much importance on stuff that was just not important. It was entertaining, but not important. There’s a distinction. The people that revolve their entire lives around games and films and comics and “box-sets”, I just find it so… cringey. There’s no other word for it. It induces that cringe response inside me.
The lesson I have learned through this is that personal improvement and investing in yourself is better for you than consuming. By all means, consume responsibly, but if you can’t? Discover your mission and let that distract you from the “fun” of endless media. Maslow was onto something when he crafted his hierarchy of needs. What you don’t need is to escape the real world and hide in a virtual one. The time I was at college and bettering myself? I felt great throughout. The year I took off, where I was lazy and in denial? Again, fun at the time, but detrimental to both my mental and physical health in the long run.
I’m back at college soon, starting the level 3 Counselling Studies course, so that will get me back in the swing of writing. Not just coursework, but blog posts as well, hopefully. If all goes well I’ll be driving soon, that will widen my horizons. There was one good thing about the year off: It put some time distance between me and February 2017. Training to be a counsellor is based a lot around self-awareness, and giving myself another year to heal from the breakdown was actually probably for the best.
Self-actualization is the goal through self-improvement. And we can all make it there, folks. Be brave. I believe in you.