So, I took this week off from streaming because I have decided to level-set as I continue to struggle with anxiety and being too hard on myself.
I have been streaming a ton of Fortnite, a game that triggers my anxiety. I was hopeful that if I played enough of it, my anxiety would go away or I’d figure out how to control it and be able to learn something about my anxiety and be able to reduce its effects on my day to day life. I also learned something about myself with regards to my hobbies and career. I enjoy the mastery and not the road to mastery. This means I want to be good at the things I spend my time on and not struggle endlessly.
For Fortnite, I decided that I wanted to get to a five percent win rate in Fortnite for Season 4. That didn’t seem like too much of a stretch as it would only be a one in twenty game win rate, well below what many pros and experts are able to do and only twice what I was able to accomplish in Season 3. I decided to really spend time playing the game, researching strategies, watching professional players, reading patch notes, dropping in a variety of locations, dropping in a single location many times and on and on and on. I will admit to even having worked with someone to train me how to play the game better. I played as many as one hundred and fifty matches per week for a few weeks to the point where the game was a job and not one I was good at.
I got to the point where the game wasn’t fun anymore. I would get so frustrated that my mood would drop. It would sometimes take me two days to feel normal again. I would feel angry, agitated, and my mental self-talk would get dark. I would mentally berate myself for not being able to perform well enough.
With the success of Fortnite, the game has attracted more and more people, and I felt like the top people in most matches were getting better faster than I was. I was achieving many top ten positions but losing over and over. Sometimes because of my anxiety. Sometimes because of my lack of tactical understanding. I tried to remind myself that I hadn’t played many games like this. I wasn’t a shooter fan growing up. I adjusted my mouse settings, my key binds and tried a whole host of other things in hopes that I would be able to find the right combination to get myself able to come out on top. My win rate slipped lower. Instead of winning two out of every hundred games, I was winning less than one out of every hundred. My frustration only grew and my ability to not only enjoy the game but also to mentally be kind to myself was reduced.
In the end, I had to stop and look at what I was doing. I cancelled my training lessons. I stopped playing the game outside of grinding out some challenges and playing with friends and my enjoyment increased slightly. I can no longer stream Fortnite. I can no longer focus on the game as a hobby that I will eventually master and I feel a bit bummed about that. No one wants to feel like their time is wasted, but now I have to concede that it was a waste of time and effort. I put myself under immense pressure to do better at the game and it really ended up causing me more anxiety, more stress, and more emotional instability.
For many, I’m sure you’ll be rolling your eyes endlessly at this post. I get it…Fortnite is “just a game”, but to me, it was a competitive sport and a hobby that I was spending a not-so-insignificant amount of time on. I hope that some athletes can empathize with my experience, and I hope that others will find some empathy because you have felt or know someone that is or was dealing with depression and/or anxiety.
I can’t help but feel down at the prospect that I wasn’t able to achieve my goal and that I wasn’t able to make a noticeable amount of progress towards it. I feel like I really put in the time and effort but it didn’t matter and that makes me a little disappointed. There is something about Fortnite that was super engaging for me, the idea of being able to compete against 99 other people and try to come out on top in a game where we all start out exactly the same and I hope after a reasonable break from playing the game in a competitive way, I can really find the enjoyment in it again, otherwise, I’ll probably have to uninstall it and just move on another attempt at a hobby that I just put in my past because I was never able to get to the level of mastery that I wanted, and thus unable to find enjoyment in the activity…