I neglected to post last night because I was playing a video game where I had to get so many points within 36 hours to get a new character. I gave up video games a few years ago because I get addicted easily and waste most of my time on them. I downloaded this game to my old phone because I wanted to give it to my nephew to play next time I see him. Anyway, I did unlock the new character today. I also stopped playing long enough to take my sister for a driving lesson, reprogram a garage door opener, and pull some weeds. I love video games, but I know how important it is to have balance in life. I am glad that has gotten somewhat easier over the years, but I know I should still try to avoid video games most of the time.
Two years ago I completed over 200 levels of Candy Crush in just a few weeks. I enjoyed playing video games because they made sense and gave me a sense of purpose and fulfillment. Video games were easy to navigate, unlike people and social atmospheres.
Shortly after that time I gave up video games for the next 6 months.
I don’t play video games anymore. I still enjoy them and will play in social situations, but I don’t play them by myself. During those 6 months I did so much good. I helped with dishes, played with my niece and nephew, and recognized and responded to needs of others.
When I went back to video games those actions disappeared. I didn’t have time to notice the world around me because I was too involved in my own world. At one point, I made a decision. I could either avoid pain and rejection, failure and loss, by disappearing into myself, or I could choose to experience the raw, uncomfortable emotions of life and make a difference for others.
This is a continual choice. Whenever I find myself being sucked into media, games, or anything else, I ask myself, “is it worth it?” Do I want to live my life in safety or in love? Do I want to go through life or live my life? And who will my decision affect?
As a single person with few responsibilities, it would be easy to become lost in myself. I don’t want that to happen though. My life will be shorter than I desire. I can’t afford to waste time living in safety and emotional distance. I choose to be present. And I will continue to do so until the choice is no longer mine.
In order to help my best friend who is struggling right now, I bought a tablet from her. I paid her the full price she had paid to buy it new from the store. So it wasn’t the cheapest tablet I could have gotten, but I was helping out a friend so it wasn’t a big deal.
Anyway, I decided after about a month of owning the tablet that it is not a good idea for me to have a tablet. The thing is, I am obsessed with games. It’s an addiction. If I have access to a gaming device, I will literally play on it for hours. Even after I need to go to sleep or do something more important, I will keep playing sometimes until I make myself sick. I just feel a need to get to the next level or complete the next objective and then the next one and the next one.
Why are games such a problem for me?
Because games make sense.
Games have rules and objectives that I can understand. I don’t have to try to decipher social cues or maneuver my way through awkward conversations. I can just follow the rules and everything will work out the way it’s supposed to. And the best thing about games is that if you make a mistake, you can always try again. The game isn’t over until you give up or you get it right.
Life isn’t like that. Sometimes in life it seems like you’ve lost the game before you even had a chance to start it. No matter how hard you try, you can’t make up for inadequacies. And even when you think you understand the rules, there’s always things that can happen that seems to put you back at square one.
Have you ever played a game for the first time and felt completely lost as to what the rules were and no matter how much you learned as the game went on, you always felt like you were two steps behind everyone else? That’s what life has often felt like for me. I don’t understand people’s intentions. I don’t understand how to start conversations. I don’t understand how others seem to make friends so easily or start a conversation with ease. And when I feel that lost, it makes me not want to play the game ever again.
So it’s easy to see why games can seem so much more appealing than real life. It’s easy to see why people who feel different play games so much. It’s easy to see why I can play games until I’m sick because it’s one of the few things that makes me feel not broken.
But I gave up my tablet. I gave up playing computer games. Not because I don’t enjoy them, but because life is more important to me than feeling whole all the time. Life isn’t easy for me; playing games is easy. But I’d rather be involved in something that’s not easy but has meaning than something that is easy but doesn’t have meaning.
So I gave up my tablet not because I didn’t like it, but because I’m willing to take on the hard stuff to become better. I know it’s not going to be easy because it never has been, but it is worth it.
I think sometimes the world tries to convince us that life should be easy or that we should try to make life easy for our kids or those we love. But the truth is that it’s in the difficulties that we really live the most. The most memorable lives in history have been the ones that weren’t easy. So don’t be afraid to live a hard life because that’s what makes your life great.