Most of you know I'm a gamer. It's what I grew up with. Except there's more to it than that. I grew up IN games. This has come with a plethora of strange and severe psychological problems that make it difficult to acclimate to society. We all know that being socially awkward is kind of how gamers are. But have you ever thought of the root cause of why? Well, it's explainable but in a very strange way.
Growing up with games seemed like a pretty easy way to go, and it was. But had I(or anyone else for that matter) known exactly how profound of a psychological effect it would have on my development I don't think my childhood would have been close to the same. Let's start with the basics. Social interaction is something we learn in public school at a fairly young age. For most, it comes naturally so long as their desires continue to remain in the real world.
For a gamer, it's a little bit different. When you game, that's what's important to you. Getting to know your classmates, or friends of your friends, isn't really as big of a deal as it is beating that boss you were having a hard time with last night. Learning to find new places to explore in the world like the old abandoned gravel pit down the road from your house isn't as important for a gamer as farming the last few materials you need to upgrade that awesome piece of gear you found in the raid the other day.
Now, there are varying degrees to how this behavior can manifest, but in extreme cases(like mine) it can render real life completely and utterly pointless to the gamer. I literally felt like working on who I was as a person wasn't as important as leveling that other character or gearing it up. I didn't care about birthdays(still don't), or holidays, or spending time with family, or spending time with friends outside of video games.
There were some things I enjoyed doing out in the world. I enjoyed bike rides and walking through the woods. But that was because it felt like exploring which was my favorite thing to do in games. Thanks to little emphasis on health(and losing the means to), those quickly became things that weren't important. Depression has come naturally due to this problem, considering it took me a few years of coming to terms with the fact that real life will never be like the video games I so desperately wanted to live in but knew I could not.
Gaming addiction was a terribly difficult thing to break(and on the back end, having no money to break away from it and get out into the world is absolutely devastating). I'm better for it, but now I'm 26 and wondering what experiences in life I've missed now that I genuinely want to try and live it the way I lived video games. Though I've never had a girlfriend, or sex, or any of that kind of experience, those don't bother me nearly as much as the day to day things I see other people having that I can't say I've ever had.
Working in a coffee shop, I see plenty of excitement from people just by making them their favorite drink. Often times I feel like they're more excited for that drink than I've ever been excited for anything in my life ever. Which a very strange thing. It makes you feel like something is wrong with you, even if you've already accepted the problems you face. Not to mention how easy it seems to be for others to interact with each other.
Many of you who know me may not know this, but the only reason I'm capable of interacting with others in any normal manner is by analyzing others and mimicking behaviors. It's not that far off from what others do, but I tend to have to make a conscious effort to not say something completely random and off-putting(and even then it still happens). This is due to the fact that while I should have been learning those skills, I was too busy investing my mind and learning on playing different games.
So now those developmental years are over, and now I have to relearn a lot of how life is. It's still a long drawn out process of conditioning(and often flooding). Moving past fears of what the world is no matter how silly they may seem after. There's a lot of really crazy things that you don't really know are problems either until that one moment when you become aware of them.
One of the reasons I never tried to go out for walks very often is because of a very strange psychological problem that seemed to creep it's way in. Invisible Walls. It's a mechanism used in video games to tell you that you aren't supposed to go where you are trying to, so it's impossible to move past certain areas even if they seem available. Well, this is something my brain became so used to, that it was looking for and applying the same concept to places in real life.
How did I learn this first? Well that's an interesting story. I was walking around downtown St Paul with a good friend of mine, which was the first time I had ever done so. I used to be deathly afraid of large cities, so much so I hated them. But at this point, she had helped me move past a couple other fears of mine(one being use of cannabis), so I was trying to get past some others. We were walking downtown when we came to a bridge, and she suggested we go down the bridge stairs and sit on the island to smoke a joint.
Well while looking down at the island, I noticed it felt odd. I got this strange fear of the landing below and felt like I should avoid it at all costs. I didn't say anything because I knew this was one of those weird psychological things, so we ended up going down anyway. Once we got to the bottom and walked down to the end of the landing, I looked back up at the city that I had just been walking in. Now I just got the same feeling about the city, and felt like it was a place I shouldn't, or couldn't go.
I looked back up at the bridge and it gave me the same feeling I would get when playing a game, and there was an invisible wall that would block you from going somewhere. We found a good spot to smoke the joint, and after being under the influence of the cannabis, I noticed that the invisible wall feeling was gone now. I felt like I could go up the bridge, up to the city, and walk around again.
This is one of many problems I've faced like this, and there's too many to detail here. One of them are not being able to look people in the eye, which is a basic social interaction that I've found being unable to makes it a hell of a lot more difficult to make real connections with people. Another is having little to no self-esteem, but for other stranger reasons than just thinking I'm not worth much. Another is a constant obsession of needing to know why people think and do what they do.
I'm sure some of you who know me have noticed, I ask a crap ton of questions even about little things. This is because a lot of the things I ask about don't come naturally to me, so the only way I can better understand how to interact with others is by asking and emulating. Positive emotions aren't something I feel very often, and even when I do the littlest bit is overwhelming. Depression is of course a major factor, and I'm still unsure if it is entirely chemical or if there's a lot of just life problems at play there too.
This is something I could write an entire thesis on, but I'll end it here for now. Hopefully this gives those of you who are kind enough to take the time to read this(Love you all by the way!) a better glimpse into who I am. It's important to me for others to understand me, since I'm not easily understandable. This is the best way for me to get this information out there to really have others understand it. And if there's one thing I can promise, it's that now I'm looking towards a brighter future.
I may be a late bloomer, but I intend to not let my life coast along like it has been for so many years. I'm working hard on becoming a man of value. It's going to take some time, and there's always going to be unexpected bones being dug up, but I know my life is going to be a good one. Even if it is still just beginning.