Paratopical Fear

Back when I was on social media, I would post something every day. Now I barely write something every day.

On the one hand it feels good not feeding the endless machine of hate, on the other I miss the act of writing. I mean that's why I have this website, right? So, I can write, have opinions, tell stories, without the pressure of social media. At the most basic I see myself as a storyteller, whether it be as writer, game maker, comedian, or software developer; I tell stories.

I haven't told a whole lot of new stories lately.

Obviously having children has not helped in that regard. If you don't have them, you literally cannot imagine how much time children consume. Trust me. It's not even close. Every. Fucking. Day. But it's okay, because that's what you sign up for when you have them, and spending time with little growing humans is (mostly) fun, surprising, and endlessly rewarding.

Another big reason was that I was burning out on the negativity that we've all experienced in the wake of right-wing insurgence around the world. It just felt bad going online and grappling with the world outside. I'm sure I'm not the only one.

The third reason was more personal and longstanding: I was afraid. I wasn't progressing fast enough according to a completely made-up deadline in my head, and I retreated. It's a pattern I tend to fall into, one that has blocked me from so many things in the past that it's not even funny.

I have spent more than 30 years in a constant state of fear.

That's my parents’ legacy, right there. Fear. Self-doubt. It's...exhausting. It's been weighing my down for so long, that I have a hard time imaging how life would be without it. I don't want to be afraid anymore, though. I've been trying for the past few months, and it seems to be working.

One concrete example is the video game Paratopic. For the longest time I avoided playing it, because it sounded like I game I would've liked to have made: A short horror game, borrowing cues from the weird movies I like, with a killer sound scape, and draped in late 90s graphical goodness. I was afraid that if I play it, I will feel worse for not creating anything, and lose interest in pursuing my thing, because someone else had made it. I bought it three times, I think, definitely on itch, maybe Steam as well (some bundle, perhaps), and on Switch. But I never touched it. For more than two years. It never occurred to me that I could learn something from it, that what sustains a creative person for the most part is other people's creativity.

Which is precisely what happened. I played it last week, enjoyed it a bunch, but it wasn't a game I would've made. It's in the same genre, for sure, but I wouldn't have made it that way. And that's okay! There is endless room for new games, or books, or comics, or movies, or whatever you like to use to express yourself. If someone makes a thing that's close to a thing that you would like to make, don't burrow you head in the sand, but see what works in their version. See if you can learn something from it. Funny thing is, I was actually more blocked from pursuing my thing, precisely because I didn't play that game. I defeated myself by creating an imaginary monster that would instantly kill me if I just saw it.

I don't know if I could ever go back to posting something every day. Too much has changed over the last few years, and there are definite benefits to keeping my mouth shut every once in a while. I'm calmer, for sure. Not feeling like I must have an opinion on everything is liberating.

But I do want to make stuff, I want to tell new stories and I want to share them with the world. I will always struggle with fear in some form or another, but I can at least strife to be less afraid. Strife to overcome my fear, be a better version of myself.

I can strife to tell more new stories.