I’ve had kind of a shitty week.
I haven’t heard from recruiters. Barely a word from the dayjob leads I’m pursuing on my own. I’ve had difficulties in maintaining focus, getting words out, not being pulled into discussions on the Internet. Hell, I finally went to bed at a reasonable hour last night, and I still didn’t rise again until most of the morning was gone. I’m pissed at myself, which is kind of dumb, since I have no conscious control over whatever the chemicals in my brain are doing on a day to day basis. I’m not even on any drugs. Nothing fun, at least. It’s all vitamins and mood stabilizers and cholesterol regulators, and even those are starting to run dry.
(The last two, at least. I’ve got vita-gummies for weeks.)
The thing is, waking up and making coffee and sitting here, a thought occurred to me. I could do an extensive write-up on the experience I had yesterday with some GG folks who were actually nice to me, and answered my questions logically, and the really terrible knot in my stomach that I got afterwards. But I’m not going to. For one very simple reason.
I’m not getting paid for it.
I’m going to write the article. I’m going to give my observations on the phenomenon, how it’s grown, what it does – really does, in spite of what happened yesterday – and what it could mean for the future of gaming culture. But I won’t be putting it here. It’s going to get pitched. I’m going to write about the appeal of old games and why GoG announcements make me giddy. I’m going to write about the reasons why I’m finding myself playing Old Republic so much lately. I’m going to write articles from the perspective of a cantankerous old bat of a gamer who wants the Candy Crush kids off of his goddamn lawn and the Call of Duty fuckwits to stop egging his house.
The only way to write is to write, and I think I’ve been afraid to do that.
I look in the mirror and I see something that scares me.
I see someone tired. I see someone bruised and battered. I see someone who doesn’t believe he’s good enough to make it on his own, and I mean entirely on his own, no corporate structure or steady paycheck to back him up. The mask has worked so well. The smiling mask. The one I would put on every morning before the commute to the office. I think I’ve been trying it on again, and the damn thing is itchy and uncomfortable and sticking to my skin and I’m sick of it.
I mean, I can be that guy, but I don’t necessarily want to be.
Yes, I know. Beggars can’t be choosers. Any port in a storm. A job is a job is a job, and slinging burgers at McPuke’s or presenting clothes to women who feel judged and uncomfortable just walking through the goddamn door at the Gap is better than no income whatsoever. I’m not an idiot.
But I’m also sick and tired of pretending.
I’m not a hateful person by nature. I’m an optimist. I would like to believe in the better aspects of humanity, that individuals can rise above the miasma of self-centeredness and stupidity that seems to dominate our species. In my mind, intelligent folks who can conceptualize the circumstances of others and imagine those concepts in a complex manner can work together to make the world a better place. I’ve seen it happen.
Unfortunately, I don’t see it happening often enough. I see people taking advantage of others. I see victims who carry senses of shame and regret a hundred times bigger than their cardboard signs, victims of a system that’s fucked them over or choices they would undo if someone just gave them a chance (but nobody does). I see fat cats getting fatter while they people they claim to care about and protect suffer and scream and plead and die in obscurity, their supplications drowned out by lobbyist money and the hum of narcotics. I see societies and individuals railing against change because it means that you don’t get to have all of the best toys to yourself anymore.
I hate that bullshit.
I hate ignorance. I hate misogyny. I hate rampant materialism. I hate reckless misinformation. I hate the corruption of young people. I hate corporate globalization and I hate upper-crust greed and I hate people who lack empathy or compassion and I fucking hate making people feel worthless because they don’t fit your advertising image and I fucking HATE people who make liberal use of slurs like “faggot” or “bitch” or “slut” or specific racial terms I won’t repeat, THOSE ARE HUMAN BEINGS YOU ARE TALKING ABOUT YOU IGNORANT ASSHOLE.
This is me with my mask off.
I’m a role-player. I write fiction. I pretend as a matter of course. And I’m pretty good at it.
But you can only lie to yourself for so long before it starts to drive you insane.
I’m not giving up on the job search, but I can’t maintain this level of dishonesty with myself and people who would choose to trust me with what is, to them, important work. I’ve tried it before and I’ve always let people down. The more I push myself to try and care, to adopt that mask, the more something inside of me rails against it and along the way, something breaks. I really need to stop getting into that cycle because it never ends well. Hence the brutal honesty.
I’m going to start coming at things differently. It’s never too late to change things. It hasn’t been easy so far, and the practical and static side of me has been fighting me along the way because, like I said, change is frightening. Lying to someone to land a cushy corporate gig is easier than putting myself out on the edge of everything, tossing out pitches on the end of lifelines and hoping someone grabs one and gives me just enough positive momentum back from the void so I can finally say, without a trace of irony or caveat, that I am a goddamn journalist.
If I can do that, I can write more and write even better, because I won’t be held back by this endless sense of guilt that plagues me because I might be letting down my parents since I’m not holding down a steady job.
If I can do that, I might be able to forgive myself for wasting a good portion of my adult life chasing cubicles instead of opportunities for a decent byline.
If I can do that, then I can finally set this stupid mask on fire, and never look back.
That’s the plan, and I’m fucking sticking to it.
If you believe in higher powers, pray for me.
If you believe in luck, wish me that.
Otherwise, just keep reading. A mind needs words like a sword needs a whetstone, and my words are worthless without your eyeballs.