Prior to the status quo, I only knew one lifestyle. My days consisted of the same routine: wake up, browse the internet, go to work, come home, do homework, play video games/watch movies/read a book, sleep. An occasional trip to a restaurant or the store would intervene, but my life followed that exact routine every single day. On the days I didn’t work, I would wake up, do homework, and then do one of the three leisure activities until I went to sleep. Personally, I didn’t mind this schedule, as I thoroughly enjoyed the leisure activities, and I was working on finishing my degree anyway.
Then I met my fiancee and everything changed.
My drive to find a mate, start a family, and find my foothold in the world was too prominent to ignore. However, I also didn’t want to give up my lifestyle. Was it a lonely lifestyle? Yes, but I definitely enjoyed my time spent as my own. I had no ties to any particular person or thing, thus my life was my own responsibility. Yet every night when I went to bed, I couldn’t help but ponder the idea of having somebody love me unconditionally. Swirls of a future family danced around inside my head. I wanted kids of my own, and I wanted a purpose in the world.
The true test came when it was time to postulate a way to balance living two lives at the same time. Rather than being one person during the day and one person at night like a metaphorical superhero, was the idea of balancing both a reality? Yes…and no.
Unfortunately, my fiancee is not much of a gamer. She likes to watch movies and read books, and we do have similar tastes in some regards. We met because of something related to Harry Potter, so we at least had that in common. When it comes to video games, I am mainly the sole proprietor of that particular hobby. She dabbles here and there with different games, but my love of them vastly outweighs her feelings toward them.
When we first met, I wanted to spend as much time as possible with her, putting video games on the back burner. All of my attention was focused solely on her. It didn’t bother me, and at the time, video games were the last thing on my mind. Instead, I focused everything on finishing my degree and spending time with her via FaceTime. It worked for the most part, and I never found myself regretting spending that time together.
Eventually, I moved to Wisconsin to be with her. Again, this is a decision with zero regrets. While I do have some home sickness every now and then, overall, I feel nothing but exuberance with the decision. Nevertheless, video games are still a prominent love in the back of my mind. The real trick is finding a way to balance a loved hobby with a new relationship.
After moving in, I had to forego video games for a while. I was searching for a job, balancing living in a household with six other people, doing homework, and learning to be a parent to a child that wasn’t mine. It was a daunting task that made me leave behind a small part of my lifestyle.
Change is never easy. I have always struggled with change when it affects an aspect of my life that drove me forward. While it may be mindless, video games were a large part of that driving force. Hobbies are not necessarily inclusive with maintaining sanity, but for me, this hobby was my escape from reality.
In a blog post from a few years ago, I wrote about video games and what they mean to me. Here is an excerpt from that blog post:
I don’t play video games because I am unable to socialize. I don’t play games because I have nothing better to do. I spend my free time immersed into something bigger and greater than myself. Experiencing these worlds and actively taking a role in the character’s involvement within them is as close to living out a fantasy as I’ll ever get.Video Games Equal Life
Reality, at times, is far too real. Buying a house, managing your credit, taking care of the car, putting food on the table, parenting the kid, doing the laundry, walking the dogs, going to work, maintaining that job, cleaning the house, doing the dishes, mowing the lawn, budgeting for success: all of this and more is the epitome of being an adult. It’s too real. It’s gritty, raw, and overwhelming at times.
While I enjoy reading and watching movies to help escape from that reality, video games have always been my best form of escape. One day I’m running around a fantasy world, sword fighting trolls and casting magic spells. The next day finds me taking on the role of a professional baseball player for my favorite team. Maybe I’m playing a female protagonist that is trapped in the wild trying to survive. Perhaps I’m an orc tasked with solving the mysteries of my past. I could also possibly be a criminal hellbent on making the most money and becoming the head of the mafia. I could also conceivably be an omnipotent god that builds an entire city from nothing. Just like books and movies, the possibilities are endless.
This is why I play video games. That escape from reality while intertwining myself in the outcome of that fictional world is an extravagant feeling. Now picture my escape from reality is suddenly on hold, my time away from the ardent, overbearing stress of the real world completely gone.
How do I retain that original feeling while still happily succumbing to a change that I had dreamed would happen for many years?
My first step was understanding that I had to find balance. Rather than teetering too far to one side of the equation, I had to find a way to balance somewhere in the middle. I can’t spend my entire life working and never take a moment of leisure to myself. Unfortunately, I can’t spend my entire life just playing video games either. Change would be necessary to find that delicate balance.
With a close eye toward that change, I had to set priorities in my life. My first priority is the well-being of myself and my family. That priority is cosmic and essential which includes finishing my degree, working, and helping set living arrangements and necessities. My second priority is maintaining that first priority. Doing randoms bits of maintenance in intervals allows me to make sure everything is copacetic and happy. My third priority is finding the small things in life that make me happy. This step includes reading a book, watching a movie, writing, or spending some time playing video games.
While I put precedence of the first and second priority over everything else, I never back myself into a wall where the third step is unachievable. Instead, I sometimes have to step back from my real world responsibilities and take a breath. Sometimes, I force myself to say no to doing activities with the family or washing the dishes. Reality unwinds, and I let myself sink into another world, if only for a few minutes, to help maintain some of that sanity. The video games burn away the pains and stress of a harsh actuality.
Change is inevitable for some people. While I was not hindered or bothered by my lifestyle, something felt like it was missing. A dark abyss floated around aimlessly inside myself as I sank deeper and deeper into an empty world of oblivion. Now that I’ve found the life I always envisioned, I’ve had to find a way to retain a minuscule part of that old lifestyle while seamlessly adapting to the new.
Understanding my choice to play as many video games as I do is not nearly as important to me as respecting my decision to do so. If I can have just a few moments to myself, regardless of how momentary they might be, then I will continue to be happy. I can always turn to a good book or some paper and pen to help me escape reality, but as long as the medium of video games exist, I’ll continue to adhere to my inner wishes to the best of my ability.
I am not defined by my hobbies, nor is my happiness solely reliant on them. Alternatively, I find my happiness exists in tandem with my ability to find the aforementioned balance. Will my life end if video games were no longer available? No, but that doesn’t mean I won’t partake and continue my streak of delving into another world while they’re here. However, I also won’t give up my new life with my budding family for video games.
It’s about balancing perfectly in the middle without looking down.
Human passions have mysterious ways, in children as well as grown-ups. Those affected by them can’t explain them, and those who haven’t known them have no understanding of them at all.Michael Ende, The Neverending Story