I’ve done it a lot in the past. I’ve played hours upon hours of video games, stealing from me time to participate in a whole list of activities. I love video games. Since the days of Atari (my family had a ColecoVision), I’ve been playing games. My brothers and I would lose hours upon hours to the task. Sure, there was bonding between us and others that could be attributed to a shared love, but what was I really gaining.
Modern games are even more alluring. Many, like Mass Effect, have deeply intricate stories woven into the gameplay. Immersion into a whole world becomes possible through these games. And because games like Mass Effect, where choices in the game impact actual outcomes (such as which characters live or die, who is friend or foe, etc) it is all more real in how the game feels.
During part of my journey last year in writing, I used video games as a reward. Were I to achieve my goal, I would allow myself time to play. However, too often that time would be longer and longer, steeling away from other things I could have been doing. Sure, I loved playing, but was I happy that I did so? Was I happy that I spent the time rather than doing other things?
Gaming is among the countless things I use to avoid doing anything of meaning.
Let me be clear, I have enough time in the day to do everything that I want to do. Most days, I should clarify. How much time I spend with bullshit is often amazing. Five minutes here, twenty minutes there, a lot of time is wasted doing meaningless or mindless things. It adds up over time. Can I still write, draw, play guitar, read, work, and spend time with friends of family every day? Well… most days I absolutely can. Some days will always be full enough with other things, where my time is being spent doing things worth doing, giving me little time, if any, to participate in my creative endeavors.
Even with those days, however, I am certain I can do even better.
It goes back to distractions. Why am I distracted? What am I trying to avoid by being distracted?
This is where the evil self comes in. It’s where doubt lurks. It’s where the imposter syndrome activates. Each work hand-in-hand, a unified front, to steal away the hopes of us all. In this case, it’s they’re telling me of how I’d be better to spend my time on menial tasks than to be trying to better myself in any way. For them, I am better kept under wraps, because they are more afraid of my failing than I actually am.
And that’s the key. A scared little version of me is more afraid of failing than I really am, using the guise of critical internal voice to derail and chance of my succeeding, all in the fear of my failing.
What does it matter if I fail? Have I not been failing every day to this point? Even as I fail, have I not also been moving forward, making small gains at each venture, learning through where these failures have directed me?
Time can be used to fight back against the voice of internal doubt as easily as it can be used to derail my plans. As I learn to be better at using the time afforded to me, the voice become weaker. Instead of wanting to play games, I want to do something better. Writing becomes easier. Spending time chasing meaning becomes easier. It may not be easy, but when does anything truly worth it ever come easy?