Well past my teens I was naive and incredibly optimistic, idiotically so at times. I had grand dreams of making it on my own, making enough of a living to travel, see the world, experience it and maybe even make it better for everyone else.
In some ways I'm pretty content with my life, but in others, I was never really satisfied with myself or my life, I always aspired for more and wanted more, I always wanted and always will want to find success through my own path.
I originally aspired to be a pro-gamer, I even signed up to Dreamhack Bucharest 2013 and 2014 and enjoyed the rare honor of being able to talk and interact with the other players. When you see the pros on stream or playing its hard to always relate, you don't always view them as entirely human. As such when I got to talk to them I was pleasantly surprised at how friendly a lot of them are and how easy it is to talk with them and entertain a long conversation.
While I enjoyed my time I started to come to the realization that I was not improving significantly. I started trying to go pro late, I struggled to at best maybe reach 200 APM and the most I ever ranked was Masters in early HotS.
I was, and still am fortunate to have a very loving and supporting family who didn't decide to boot me out the door and allow me to fend for myself. Maybe I could have used a lesson like that, but I didn't get it.
Instead I started consuming myself from the inside out, the mounting pressure to do something, coupled with the lack of any sort of meaningful results ate at my psyche. I retreated into myself a bit, cut ties with some of my friends. In a way I was ashamed to face them until I had proven something. How could I risk having a conversation breakdown into:
"So what are you doing?"
"I'm trying to be a pro gamer."
"So how's that going?"
"Well I went to this tournament."
"Did you win anything?"
"How long have you been doing this for?"
Are you still living with your parents?
I decided to use my game knowledge and some of my skills for another good and volunteered to write for TL. I found writing to be a lot more pleasant, with the pressure to perform having been lifted I enjoyed watching the story lines unfold, basking in the jaw dropping moments of a brilliantly executed attack or defense and conveying it to the readers.
Unfortunately it was not enough to alleviate the mounting sadness of not having achieved anything palpable, I was still living with my parents, had no real income, home of my own or any future.
And so I retreated more and more and at the same time became sadder and sadder in a way. I was ashamed of myself, ashamed of being a burden to my parents and could barely stomach social interaction with others.
Then in the winter of 2015 I had enough and decided it was time for a change which started me down the road more often traveled.
Having no real work experience up till that point I got a job in a call center, at the advice of a friend. I earned the minimum wage of Romania at the time.
I won't lie, it was brutal, so much so that I dreaded answering the phone for months after I had left it, the stress to work non-stop, coupled with the dread of getting a screamer was melting away at my willpower. The only reason I stuck to it is because I wanted to prove a point, I wanted to prove I was tough enough to take the worst which was thrown at me, to show, especially my family, that the years of comfort had not softened me.
Things didn't pan out as I expected, I started exercising less at this point and consuming more and more junk food. I also became intensely addicted to video games as an escape and venting mechanism. I could not break the cycle I was now stuck in, I was playing almost every other waking minute just to stay sane, and couldn't do anything else, but at the same time I desperately needed to escape.
After many attempts to improve my standing in the company I finally got a break as a close friend of mine told me a better company was hiring.
After my friends recommended me I managed to cruise past the phone interview and got to the face to face stage. I managed to impress enough that I received the news I was hired later that day and my wage would nearly be doubling compared to my old job.
The new job was a bit more relaxed that my old one and, the thrill of learning new things and excelling kept me entertained. I genuinely enjoyed what I was doing and I started getting noticed for my hard work and performances. After 6 months I started helping and advising other members of my team and after 12 months I had become a sort of expert in the team.
I even used my higher income to plan more trips and finally managed to visit HSC in the winter of 2016 and Katowice in March of 2017. I meet my fellow TL writers and enjoyed my time thoroughly. It nearly felt like I had made it and found my own happy place.
At this point the cracks started showing again. In many ways ignorance is bliss, you can just wade your way through life happily ignoring anything that does not immediately impact you. I was never as fortunate, I noticed the injustice that started to occur, how thankless and hard the support role is in a corporation, how taken for granted and underpaid it is compared to others and how it always needs to be on alert to fix anything.
This time something different happened, instead of finding solace in gaming I turned to meditation. I wouldn't call myself religious by any means but I would acknowledge that I am spiritual, I now do breathing exercises daily and I meditate at least once per week where I simply lie on my back for an hour or so, breathing, focusing on my breath until I can simply quiet my mind and empty it of thought.
This exercise has brought me a bit more in touch with my inner self and made me more aware of my turmoil. I try to face my fears in my mind and rationalize them in order to calm down. I now become very aware of when I am tense and anxious and lately I feel it more and more, and more and more I feel the need to go under in order to release the tension.
And now I come to the conclusion of my experiences thus far and what I've learned.
It is really easy to be a conformist, to do what others tell you to do, to get a entry level job, work your way through it, advance move to a different company, advance there etc.
Its easy if you involve yourself, but at the same time its too monotone, too safe and, in my case too unjust. Its also soulless and unsatisfying, while I have felt mentally involved and challenged at times, when I finally draw the line I still don't feel like I've accomplished anything meaningful, anything I can tell a future generation to be proud of.
I'm close to getting my own house now, but I feel empty, sad, depressed, I don't feel satisfied any more, I'm not sure I've felt the true blissful happiness of my youth for years.
I do feel my experience has been important for one thing. I learned the reality about life, how cruel and harsh it can be at times. I've learned to be organized and work under pressure, I've learned the value of hard work and most importantly I've learned the value of time.
How I wish I could go back to my 20 year old self with this attitude, how many squandered opportunities I would have tried to reverse.
If there is one advice I'd want to give for any youngsters out there its this.
Don't completely give in, and don't forget your dreams. Not saying don't get a job just that the real world experience is valuable, it will teach you a lot of things, including just how precious your own time is.
Alas the only thing left is to move on, but to what end, and what future?
I know one thing for certain, as much as possible I want to escape this loop and do something for myself again, to create, to travel not to serve.
As much as possible I now want to walk the road least traveled.