The Reality of a Virtual Reality

by

My purpose is to provide understanding, hope, and direction for anyone who feels stuck in the thick of thin things.

I knew I had to stop the self-destructive cycle but couldn’t figure how to get out of it. I’d hesitate, then hesitate again until I became depressed because I thought there was no hope for me. I’d fight off depression by making my digital life more successful but I knew deep down I needed to make a change. There had to be a way out.


As you read you may find this describes someone you know or perhaps you’re the one in this very circumstance.

I live a life that is drastically different than who I was nine years ago. I was frustrated because I didn’t know my next step in life and found an outlet that helped put my mind at ease… gaming. Some days I’d spend 10–14 hours playing, waking up early to get an edge and to become a more valuable asset to my team.

Over the course of 30 pivotal months, I watched multiple windows of opportunity gradually close because I didn’t break free from the games I was playing. I played to numb the fact that my physical life was sinking and it did an incredible job making everything seem fine.

Video games are created to pull you in, challenge you, and play with your emotions in seemingly infinite ways. Developers carefully craft each game to engage you, fill you with highs and lows and are designed to put your life on pause so you can enjoy some “me time”.

I battled to find a balance between living in reality and in my virtual reality. 
When I had to choose between my virtual world or real world responsibilities I would opt for the virtual — Eventually, I believed that if I disengaged from my real responsibilities for a few minutes of “me time” I would have the much needed mental clarity to take on my real world responsibilities.

This “me time” expanded and turned into hours and hours of “me time”. I would reason with myself that as I played I was becoming more relevant and soon realized the more I played, the more I was able to relate to my digital friends. It got to the point that I would stop long enough to see the light of day only to think that real life just wasn’t for me.

I was in a loop, and the loop was this:

This loop led to selfishness, more frustration, and a loss of motivation to connect with others. I eventually felt as though I couldn’t relate with others and they wouldn’t want to relate to me, only my gaming friends who understood my virtual accomplishments.

When you’ve lost motivation and have no vision for who you can become — naturally, you can’t see what else is possible. My vision was dimmed every time I didn’t take courage when a window of opportunity opened up. Eventually, you’ll diminish your desire to change because you’ve become content with the life you’ve created.
 
I hope this article will help anyone realize how deep someone can dig a hole for themselves, get out, and build the life they never knew was possible for themselves.

I can promise you as you stick to your word your confidence will grow — you’ll stop lying to yourself and begin seeing yourself through a lens of hope.

If you want to get out you’ll need to find your own personal exit points and to have the courage to take them when you see them.

This is a very real war that is raging in the minds of many men, women and now children. There is a real sense of accomplishment that comes from gaming for a few hours, to have our mental receptors tell us it feels good to learn new strategies and achieve something we haven’t before.
What I can tell you about addiction is that it is subtle, for a time, then grows. I see it differently now; I only see it as short term burst of satisfaction and distraction.

There are people who you know that need help getting out of this loop. You can do so much for them if you love them enough to see who they are and who they can become outside of their current state. There isn’t someone who is too far gone. You no longer need a computer, TV, or console to be a gamer. Gaming has taken on many different forms but the symptoms are still the same.

If you are a parent who has a child who is frustrated when you ask them to stop looking at their tablet or gaming device, you can help them greatly as you love them through setting proper boundaries WITH them. Start with love, add in communication, and eventually help them set their own boundaries.

If you’re the one struggling with this and don’t know where to start, begin by reviewing the good in your life and illuminate it. Set small challenges for yourself outside of your virtual world and you’ll find much more satisfaction when you succeed. You have SO MUCH to live for, to look forward to. I hope that you’ll believe me when I say you have a great purpose.

Learn to be in the now and be okay wherever you’re starting from.

Hope is found by starting where you are and building momentum. Since I’ve stopped I’ve earned two college degrees — it may have taken me 234 credits, but I achieved my goal. I’ve ran 6 Spartan races including a 14-mile race in the backcountry of Hawaii and led my family to complete one as well. I’m happily married and have 3 wonderful boys and a little girl on the way. I’m also a manager of over 4 employees and oversee 12 student employees. I’m not trying to brag but life is much better now. Just have the courage to keep a commitment to yourself, and when you fail — try again.

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