It has been a long time since I have uploaded a new post on this platform, or written anything in fact. Now that I have returned to my original blog, I wanted to take some time to write an article for someone who I’ve never met but I know is going through a difficult time. I know their situation is unique and similar to what have experienced so I’m going to start this by describing the experiences in my life that have led me to where I am now and how I escaped the mental trap that I had built for myself which held me in fear for so many years.
During my last year of high school I wound up losing my closest friends. I tried to date a girl who I thought was cool and it turned out she tried to turn my friends against me by spreading lies about me behind my back. The worst part was that they actually believed her, so they stopped talking to me. This only proved that they weren’t real friends, because if they were they would have approached me directly and asked me first if I was really talking garbage about them.
Long story short, I found myself incapable of trusting anyone, and while I had all this social drama happening, I needed to apply to colleges and make big decisions for my future. Somehow the anxiety I had for picking out a college and fear of confronting others combined and put me into a place where I wanted nothing to do with anyone or anything.
To make matters worse, around the same time I also got into a random fight with a stranger one day after school. I was walking home after a bad day, (I was feeling sick since we had to dissect rats in science class to gain a better understanding of the human anatomy and I was deeply disturbed by the process). As I was walking home, I passed a group of thuggish looking guys who were holding pit bulls and accidentally bumped into one of them on the shoulder in an attempt to dodge one of the dogs. I had my headphones on full blast and I just didn’t pay any mind to what just happened, I just wanted to get home. I didn’t say “excuse me” or “I’m sorry” either, which was probably a big mistake on my part, but honestly I just felt sick, angry, and frustrated. Cutting to the end, the guy I bumped into runs after me, pushes me, and starts a confrontation. I start yelling back to defend myself when all his other friends run toward us and form a half circle around us. The guy swings at me and punches me dead in the face and I fell.
I remember getting back up and in that moment, I wasn’t scared, I was angry and I wanted to take this guy’s head off. But something in me said dude walk away, you are surrounded. So I did. I got up with my fists clenched and ready and it took all my strength to turn away and not fight back. I just walked away before the other guys decided to jump in and possibly beat me to death. I got to walk away with minimal damage and thankfully the guy who hit me didn’t try to continue fighting.
After that I became traumatized. I had never been in a fight before, and shortly after the fight all the other issues with my high school friends happened so I was overwhelmed. I felt like I had no one to speak to (even though my family was around), I surrounded myself with things that could be a temporary mental escape; my video games and music. At the time my world was a repetitive routine to go to school, immediately come home after class, finish any homework as quickly as possible, and put in as much video game time as I could before the next day. I let myself fall into a trap where the only place I felt safe was in my room and in front of a TV screen with controller in my hand.
I allowed myself to fall behind. I kept replaying those bad memories over and over in my head. Eventually the memories became “what if” scenarios and I kept replaying those thoughts over and over again wasting my life away wondering what would have happened if I fought back? Why did this even happen to me? What would have happened if I beat up the guy who attacked me? What if I had never spoken to that girl who tried to ruin my life? Would things have really been better? Sadly I cloaked myself in negative thoughts, and hid myself from the world. I was angry at what happened to me and angry at the people who hurt me, but deep down I was angry at myself for making bad decisions that put me into those negative events. The bad part was that I carried all this negative gunk for years until I became an adult, when I learned that I had to forgive myself for my mistakes.
Fortunately I graduated from high school, but because of my negative mind cage, I unintentionally took three years off while I was applying and reapplying to colleges, that deep down, I had no real intention of attending. I was scared. I was filled with self doubt and confused about what I was going to do with my life. During the third year I was able to get a basic stock retail job through a family friend. I absolutely hated it. I had no clue how jobs worked, and I trusted people that I shouldn’t have because I believed they were my friends. I guess I treated my job like it was high school, blindly trusting “friends” from work, but it was a learning experience. I worked there for three years and finally I realized that I needed an education to better myself enough to never get stuck in another low paying job again. So I did.
On that final year, I quit my job and went to college full time. In that same year I also met an amazing woman who became my girlfriend. At that point I had two big goals in my life. One was to graduate with my associates degree in exactly 2 years with no breaks, the other was to remain in a committed relationship and eventually get married. Unfortunately for me during my last year of college I couldn’t made a decision on what I wanted to do with my life after I graduated. So I became lost again, stuck, and I fell back into my old habit of hiding away from my problems.
This time I fell into a deeper trap than the first time because I started to become disconnected with myself, my girlfriend, and my family. I started losing who I really was because I was solely focused on trying to get myself out of my negative situation. I kept feeling sorry for myself and I hated who I had become. I was being yelled at by my parents, threatened to get kicked out my house, I got into arguments with my girlfriend, I had conversations with friends about my progress and I was still just immobile.
I spent another year and half trying to figure out what I wanted and where I was trying to go. The weight of my loved one’s expectations to get a job or at least do something with my life was so heavy. It was like being wrapped in chains and dragged to the bottom of the ocean by a ship anchor. No where to go, no direction, no ambition, just heavy weight, darkness, and difficulty breathing.
Unfortunately I lived this way for a long time, still hiding behind my video games which gave me only brief moments of freedom and happiness. Eventually I lost my girlfriend. She didn’t have any more patience for me to just “figure things out”. Honestly who could blame her? She wasn’t wrong for wanting her significant other to better himself. But after the break up, something happened to me. About three months afterward, I found myself asking: “okay so I’m alone now, I have no one pressuring me to move forward (besides my parents), so what the heck is holding me back from just getting a basic job, at least for the time being?”.
The real truth is that I was afraid. I was scared to take responsibility for myself and for my future. I felt like I didn’t fully understand where I wanted to go, or what I wanted to do with my life, and all I could focus on was the fact that everyone around me was just so disappointed.
I took a few days to think about it then something clicked in my head. I realized that I was afraid was because if I did get a new job, that would mean that I have to give up my alone time. I was worried that I would never have time for myself or my video games again if I went back into another job. This may seem like such a silly and pathetic thing to be caught up on, but honestly that was the root of my fears for moving forward. I was afraid that I would be a slave to my job and that I will never have another chance to do what I love.
When I realized how wrong this was, I took time to reflect and I told myself that I will have time for everything that I love. And I decided that yes I can have a job and I will have extra time when I get home to do what I want, and sure enough I was freed. A week after I made that decision, I had an opportunity to interview for a job as a bellman at a hotel. I went to the interview, answered everything as confidently and as positively as I could and thankfully I was hired on the spot. They gave me a start date and I have been working there for seven months now.
At this point I’ve become the most confident I have ever been in my life. I was able to do some really awesome things this year like buy a 4K UHD TV, a new Xbox One X, a new PS4 Pro and pretty much every new video game I wanted. Now obviously this is simply a material benefit to having my own money, but more importantly I was able to actually enjoy something that I really wanted, and that I worked for, and that is one of the greatest feelings after being free of my mental prison. I am now able to help my family pay bills and I’m able to let myself be myself and enjoy life more. I can go out and buy food for myself, hang out with friends and not worry and not be embarrassed about them having cover my movie ticket or my train fare. Its a new level of trust and confidence in yourself that just can’t exist when you are trapped.
Now I know I am not where I truly want to be, because deep down I love video games and I always wanted to be a part of making them. But that is okay because I am still in a better place than I was just a few months ago. I am gaining crucial work experience that will help me land a better job in the future. Even though I am not fully sure of where I am going I am happier, stronger, and more confident than I have been in the last three years.
Ultimately the point of this piece is to give some insight to others who are struggling with a similar situation of being “stuck” or “not sure” about what they want to do with their life. I know how difficult it can be to not know what to do or where to start when you have everyone around you telling you to try something or do anything that will help you to move forward. But what they don’t understand is that you as a person can never move forward until you decide to let go of what is holding you down. Overcoming that inner problem is probably one of the most challenging things you will ever deal with, but once it is over and you come out the other side, you will see the world in a whole new light.
When I heard that another person was going through pretty much what I experienced I was in shock. I couldn’t believe that someone else out there was dealing with a situation like mine and I told myself that I need to do something about it. Even though I was unable to speak with this person, I felt like writing something for them may be enough for them to understand that there is positive way out of the situation.
My mental prison was extremely difficult to survive but I would have never made it through if I did not take quiet time to reflect and recognize what was causing my immobility from the very core of me. It was a consuming darkness that ate away at me, kept me immobile, fearful, and depressed about my current state. Thankfully I was able to figure out the source of my fears and I figured out that I was not addicted to games but instead just using them as a way to hide and escape how negative I felt.
A Small Note Of Thanks
A message for those who read all of this: Thank you for taking your time out to read this piece. It was very emotional for me to dig into my past and write this all out. Hopefully some part of this can be helpful to someone out there who is struggling with their own mental prison.
To the person I wrote this for: just know that there are others who are willing to help you if you need it. We are here to listen, and provide you with help and encouragement. Hopefully now you won’t feel alone because you now know someone like you has survived what you are experiencing. I really hope these words can help you in some way.
Finally: Thank you to my ex girlfriend for her support through all those years. I’m sorry you had to struggle with me and see me at my worst. But now I am through it and a better person for it, even though I lost you in the process. I will always love you for everything you have done for me, and the support you have given me. Thank you.