kjorteo: A pixel style icon of a nude Celine looking very anxious and worried. (Celine: Anxiety)
[personal profile] kjorteo
When I was young enough to be a part of the ZZT community, everyone had some grand magnum opus they were always working on, even sometimes posting in-development screenshots and such, but almost none would ever be finished. This was, to paraphrase Anna Anthropy's excellent book on the subject, an experimental sandbox of a game-design medium for teens, whose ambition usually exceeded their talent. Everyone had that big idea, no one could get it to look satisfactory in ZZT.

Mine was called Adventure of Sam, and no of course I never finished it. This entry isn't about that.

I always felt stressed about its development and how long it was taking. I don't think anyone actually cared or was going to play it even if I'd released it (Dr. Dos maybe gave me some friendly ribbing about "so when's Adventure of Sam coming out" but that's just the community being the community) but I always acted as if they did, and that I was somehow failing by not actually getting it done. One of the things I remember very vividly from that entire period of my life, even if I never really showed it online (because ZZTers were about LOLing and roasting each other, not about feelings) was that stress and guilt. Over time, the incomplete Adventure of Sam weighed down on me, to the point where I wished I'd never announced it. At least then no one would have noticed the game stubbornly not existing for as long as it did.

You sometimes see things like this happening even outside the Lord of the Flies-esque teen game design clique that was the ZZT community, too. Duke Nukem Forever is the most infamous example. I knew long before it finally came out that it was going to be disappointing if it ever did, because there was literally nothing that could have lived up to the meme that game's Development Hell had become. Even truly great games couldn't compete with that... like, quick, name your top five favorite best games ever made of all time. How many of them would you still see in that light even if they were what came after being a vaporware punchline for as long as Duke Nukem Forever was? Has any game ever survived that? I mean I'm sure a few have, but Mother 3 is about the only one that I personally can think of offhand, and even that fell somewhere into the "niche/cult classic" zone.

So, I learned from those experiences never to share, or at least almost never to share anything that's going on with me until it's finished. Last time I changed jobs--after months of fruitless searching, applying, and interviewing before finally landing the position with my current company--you all heard I was even looking for a new job the day after I'd found and started at it. And sometimes--most of the time--I feel like that thought process has served me well! I mean, if I'd kept everyone updated with every job to which I applied, that would have resulted in hundreds of "oops, never mind :(" retractions every time I didn't get a return call. On top of being more than a little spammy, that's just personally uncomfortable to me because... I mean, I already feel bad enough when something like that happens. I don't need to dwell on it by recounting and reenacting the entire tragic ending for everyone who'd had their fingers crossed for me.

Also, I'm sure you all remember my Dagger of Amon Ra LP, and how the stress of when was I ever going to finish that got even worse than it did on Adventure of Sam. Meanwhile, I have a video I've been meaning to do since 2014, but only two of my closest personal IM friends even know it exists, so it doesn't matter that the schedule has slipped for so long because I've just had that many other things to do with my time instead. I don't have to make that one a top priority against all my other top priorities because no one is waiting for it. It's very liberating not to have expectations.

But... sometimes I wonder. I think I have a tendency to take it too far, even in situations where there's no real feasible "okay it's safe to post now" endpoint. I kept my last relationship secret for several months "just in case" after it had started, but then finally was open about it... and then we broke up around three years into the relationship anyway. And yes, going back and telling everyone she left me was about as unpleasant as the fact that she'd left me, but... what was I supposed to have done, not mentioned anything for three years? And if that relationship hadn't failed, when would I have said anything? "I'll be out of town for a few days since we're celebrating our 25th wedding anniversary... oh, did I not tell you? Yeah, I met someone back in the 2010s...."

My closer IM friends know I've been suffering from anxiety issues possibly related to the gender transitioning--I asked around and there's no known link between HRT and spontaneously developing random causeless panic attacks that absolutely were never a thing before, but the timing is suspiciously coincidental and I've seen some anecdotal accounts of other MtF people claiming increased anxiety (and I mean beyond just because being MtF in today's world is kind of scary anyway.)

My current personal wild guess is that... well, I mentioned before that this is a lot like going through puberty again, for exactly the same reason: as hormone levels shift, the mind and body alike adjust and grow into their new configuration. I expected my second puberty to involve, you know, mood swings like my first one did, but maybe it just manifested like this instead. I don't really feel any different otherwise, so far. I'm a ball of nerves anyway and then sometimes I get panic attacks as a purely physical reaction for no good reason (I once literally got set off because I dozed off on a bus and then startled myself back awake, and apparently startled too hard since that feeling of alarm just... stuck, for the next several hours) but I haven't had mood swings and I'm still... me.

Maybe this is just what my puberty looks like if it's estrogen instead of testosterone. I can't exactly go back in time and test that theory, so who knows. (But if it's not that, I have no Earthly idea what else it could be.)

And, of course, I never mentioned this here. I guess I was waiting for it to be resolved first, because I don't like commenting on ongoing situations. But, again, what does "resolved" even look like?

I came out to my company's HR person about how I was transitioning. She is now the first and so far only person at the company who knows. The original plan was to wait until I was a little more, uh, visibly far along, but in retrospect I guess I never really had a solid idea of what the "Okay, it's time" sign would look like. I figured the "You may have noticed I look a bit different...." speech would have to come someday or another, but I was kind of waiting until it did, I guess? Instead, they kind of forced my hand over--and this is such a dumb, minor thing to have dragged such a major confession out of me--they want to bring in a photographer to take everyone's pictures as a sort of profile thing for things like Outlook icons, if we're ever in the company newsletter, etc. There was a big multi-tiered consent form for what we were and were not okay with them doing with the pictures that we were supposed to sign and bring back to HR, and I had to be like, "Uh, this is fine for now but, haha, funny story, I may need to get new pictures in a few months...."

It went really well, though. Our HR person is awesome, and I'm glad that step is out of the way. Still, I know it wouldn't have happened if the picture thing hadn't forced it, and so I'm right back to wondering what is it with me and living so much of my life in secret.

This got really long and rambling and even I'm not sure if it actually has a point (I'm going to hide behind the "It's my journal and I can write stream of consciousness stuff about how I'm feeling if I want" excuse for now) but just... I don't know. It's something I've been wondering a lot about lately. Should I talk about ongoing and in progress stuff more? That seems... uncomfortable. Is the fact that it seems uncomfortable just a weird hangup on my part I should try to get over, or is there something to it? I don't know.

Clearly what I need is some sort of system that just posts my final score and stats after I've died, like Rogue.

Date: 2017-06-17 03:20 am (UTC)
xyzzysqrl: A moogle sqrlhead! (Default)
From: [personal profile] xyzzysqrl
I was reading a few things written by the composer of the Ori and the Blind Forest soundtrack, and someone asked him how the main theme was developed. He mentioned it was basically one success out of 99 failures. ... If I can quote:

"I don't believe you can really 'fix' a piece of music if it fundamentally doesn't work. But in order to figure out whether it 'works' or not you have to actually start, develop, and finish the idea, at least to a reasonable level. A lot of them start out as piano sketches, but then they get fleshed out. Once the Ori theme that exists as you know it now got fleshed out, it was clearly the one that would end up winning the race. But until you have a body of work to choose from - for what to develop - you'll have a harder time getting to that point."

As with anything else, the things you start may or may not actually work out, but they're yours. Whether you talk about them or not, they're developing behind the scenes. It was a bit of a shock to me to realize just how many projects you have going in the air at once, because a lot of the things you do just kind of ... appear. A video pops up, you're involved in music work, you start a post series and it's like... "Oh that must've just been on her mind this weekend." It's been a shock learning how long some of these things have been worked on.

I think talking about those failures, making them something normal that happens, is important for showing that it's not just success after success, but there's a lot of ideas that just never go anywhere. If I'd known minor flaws and delays weigh on you that heavily I'd probably tease you about them less to be honest.

I guess it mostly feels like creativity blooms from nothing only when we can't see what it's growing in. I'm always excited to dig around and see what's down there, but not everyone is, and it's cool if you're not comfortable showing off your... planter... of... this metaphor sucks. I'm not sure where this is going.

Also congratulations on being officially out to someone not online. I hope it works out for you.

Date: 2017-06-27 12:41 am (UTC)
davidn: (skull)
From: [personal profile] davidn
Okay, first and importantly - I would never have even joked about your Laura Bow 2 completion time if I had known it was a source of stress to you, and I'm sorry. I looked forward to every part, of course, but it was never something that I would have ever called you a failure for not completing faster - ultimately this was something you were doing for fun, and if there wasn't time (or you didn't have the drive) to pay attention to it for a while, then... that's fine. You do things because you enjoy them, and I enjoy them, and so many others do as well.

Everyone wants to present an image of themselves as a neverending stream of great moments - we see everyone else's lives filtered through social media, which outright encourages it. But we all have our failures and our insecurities as well. In addition, I think that throughout both our lives, we've learned to stamp down our negative feelings under the impression that they don't matter (and I don't want to get started on this in the context of my own life, I could go on all night). When you were in a bad place and really needed someone to talk to a few years ago, you were so hesitant to even mention what was happening except in a very oblique way because you couldn't quite bring yourself not to mention it at all, and then it took a lot of convincing to get the story out of you. It's okay to... need help, to need to talk.

Therefore, I wonder if some of your newfound anxiety is from stuff that's just built up and up over time and it's finding a way to boil over now - that was the case with me, I was so frustrated at my symptoms because I felt that if it weren't for my anxiety symptoms, I would feel fine - there wasn't anything really terrible happening in my life at the time, and it was all from bottling things up for so long, little things that added up even if they had happened months ago in my life.

I'm really glad that you have an ally in HR - that's really wonderful that you have someone who supports you there. I hope there are many others :)


kjorteo: Pixel-style portrait of Celine's face (Default)
Celine Kalante Love

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