When NSG and I parted ways at the start of 2017 I looked at my new job as a transient one. Something I would pursue while I kept my main foot firmly planted in the world of esports with a plan to pivot as back to that world as quickly as possible.
This month had been an agonizing and stressful one for me. A couple genuinely amazing opportunities were presented to me within a week of each other. In many ways it was a dream scenario for me, a chance to be rewarded for the hard work I’d put in, and yet when the time came to choose I ultimately could not choose any of them.
There were of course the practical considerations. Esports hours are bizarre and extremely tough on relationships especially when your partner is not involved in the industry. The industry can be volatile and unforgiving, even the best laid of plans can be upturned at a moments notice. There was also the worry about getting the black mark of “Job Hopper” on my CV after spending my first half decade of post college life ping-ponging between “regular jobs” and “esports jobs” there’s a genuine worry that I could enter my early thirties with no marketable skills, and a penchant to quit my job at a moments notice to pursue esports. That is what recruiters call a tough hire.
Beyond the practical considerations though there’s something more existential. I’ve been working in esports in a professional capacity since mid 2014, and had been a fan for years before that. In many ways my identity is deeply intertwined with StarCraft and more broadly esports in general. There are some parts of this that are great, some of my best friends in the world I met through StarCraft! Yet there is a dark side to this as well. When you’re working in such a tight knit industry where everyone knows everyone your ego gets intertwined into your job in a way that’s weird, and at least for me not altogether healthy. Someone not knowing who you are, or getting passed on an opportunity or invite that someone “less important” (and this is a terrible mindset) than you receives feels like a deeply personal slight. I certainly can’t speak to everyone's experience, but that has been mine.
With all that in mind I spent two weeks agonizing over decisions. Ultimately I realized I built a life for myself outside esports that still includes esports work and involvement in a way I find satisfying and fulfilling. The highs in esports are high, but the lows sure feel low. I’m currently happier and healthier than I’ve been since I graduated college. My life is a lot more even keeled and I feel like I have more control over it. I have a personal and professional goal to get Net+ and Sec+ certified this year. It’s a goal I’m completely in control of and that feels terrific.
I can’t say I’ll never return to esports in a full time capacity, because if there’s one thing I’ve learned life is tough to predict, but I’ve come to terms that sometimes you have to disappoint your inner child to be happier as an adult. Even if that’s the only thing I gain from this journey, I can think of worse lessons to learn along the way.
P.S. - In case it’s not clear this is not a retirement note. I still love working in esports as a side hustle that I’m passionate about. Cheeseadelphia is not going anywhere so long as I’m allowed to continue having the privilege to run it!