2016: The process of becoming comfortable in your own shoes.
Or, “so long variety, and thanks for all the (fail)fish.”
This year has meant many things to many people. The good. The bad. The transformative. Feelings of loss. Success. Elation. Desperation. The entire gamut of emotions has been covered — particularly in 2016 — by the majority of my social circles. It’s been a wild ride, that many wish to end.
For me, 2016 has been life-changing; painful, desperate, astoundingly rewarding. 365 days ago, I was in the passionate employ of a company that — to this day — I still can’t quite let go of. 2016 started with some pain. I was trying to find my way out of a company whose product I adored, but whose bureaucracy and process destroyed me.
Ever since joining Twitch, I was intrigued by the sole fact of: “wouldn’t it be awesome to be a broadcaster for a living?” For a person who had spent the last decade of his life designing and programming websites for people, it seemed like an intriguing jump. On March 16th, I took that jump.
On March 16th, I opened myself up for one of the roughest rides of my life (my passengers being: self-worth, and my own patented form of anxiety, of course). I was playing Dark Souls on the day I announced my transition from Twitch employee to Twitch broadcaster, and I felt like I had the world on my side. That feeling lasted at most, a week. It just wasn’t meant to be. When the winds subsided, I was left playing Doom and feeling like I never deserved partnership in the first place. “What partner plays a new AAA game to 10 people?” I asked myself. Something had to change.
Numbers. Sure. I get it. Don’t look at the numbers.
Every podcast, every tweet about the subject… they all say the same thing: “numbers don’t matter.” Unless they actually do to your sense of self. If I’ve learned anything about Twitch, it’s the farthest thing from a “one-size-fits-all” environment. We’re dealing with real personalities here. Real lacks of confidence. Real inferiority complexes.
But I digress. I’m talking about my lack of confidence, my abysmal self-worth, and my tendency to compare because I ultimately feel like I’m as good as anybody out there. That last one ruled my psyche for the entirety of my streaming career up until that point. I was equally plagued and motivated by those who I felt I could perform equally or better than. I was called “senpai” but I wanted to be a “kohai,” complaining to confidants that no matter what I did, I couldn’t break into social circles. It felt like high school with a different brand of popular kids: everybody at the top of the variety chain.
I was in a familiar place, the Asian geek that everybody asked for homework advice: respected for their intelligence, but not socially adept. The popular kids were multi-talented, attractive both physically and mentally. They took selfies accompanying their “go-live” tweets that would get hundreds of likes. They were people viewers could fall in love with, whether that broadcaster actually had a significant other or not. They had an air of confidence, or could at least enough of one to make their lack of confidence undeniably endearing.
And I would compare myself to them, incessantly. The longer this went on, the more I suffered silently. What was I doing wrong? “Nothing,” said friends. So if I wasn’t going where I wanted to go… and I was doing nothing wrong, then somebody had to be lying to me. This was me for a good portion of 2016, feeling like there was something somebody wasn’t telling me. Just tell me what I’m doing wrong, and I’ll fix it. Life’s that simple, right?
While I could go on and talk about how the rest of my year shaped up, I glance up at the title of this post — it’s not what this is about. This is.
“You will find that it is necessary to let things go; simply for the reason that they are heavy. So let them go, let go of them. I tie no weights to my ankles.”
Through almost 2 years of therapy, both personal and marriage counseling, I’ve discovered a lot about myself. I’ve learned about my unique brand of personality, my extreme aversion to authority, my desire for connection, my utter lack of self-worth.
In the Twitch community it is so easy to get caught up in what you should be than to be content with what you are. It is equally easy to find yourself in a toxic situation that may not look that way on the outside, even though nobody in that situation is necessarily toxic. Within that, it’s that much harder to pull yourself away because if “you try a little harder, you’ll get the respect you deserve,” some people using the simple phrase of “networking.” We can be victims of our own success, but we can also be victims of our own attempts to be successful.
At 33-years-old, you’d think I would’ve learned this already. That I would’ve had the proper life experiences to guide me through this.
Variety has been heavy. I left the design industry long after my prime, and like any person that’s past their prime, the only thing they can remember is their prime. I felt like I could make a difference, that I could make an impact, that I could find new life with new friends, but the only thing I’ve made myself is miserable. Even worse, I’ve managed to consistently scapegoat everything else — my life situation, my marriage, my perceived lack of talent, etc.
I need to admit something for the first time: I am proud.
I am proud in both respects of the word. While I am a proud person that will not back down without a fight — for better or for worse, I am also proud of what I have built over the past 6 months with respect to moving away from variety into Mega Man and Final Fantasy XIV. I’m proud of the community I’ve built. I’m proud of the people I’ve befriended. I’m proud of the trials we’ve triumphed and the tribulations we’ve shared. I am proud of the support I’ve received, including the “I wish,” “I could,” and “I wills.”
I’ve focused on the people who have showed up, and I’ve seen the results. Despite hard choices, I’m proud of the path I’ve taken. The fact that I can genuinely feel pride is a step forward for me. To know what effect I can have on people. To know that the people who call themselves Crusader are proud to do so.
Most importantly, I now know my place. I now know my home.
Digressions have occurred and points lost in a sea of words, but ultimately, this post is another step in a long journey. My “Out With It” videos are a part of that journey as well. They’re meant for me more than anybody, they’re meant for the person I want to be and the person I know I should be.
I wanted to start 2017 telling myself that I made the right decision, because at this very moment, I haven’t been happier with my new career. Not everybody will agree with this, but for once in my life, I could care less. It’s not about you. It’s not about your experience, although you may empathize with mine. This is about one 33-year-old Filipino man finally owning up to something: to the variety community, I love you, but I’ve got to let you go.