I do not know what your expectations became the moments you read the title, but let me clarify a bit. This is not a story about a drug addiction, a smoking addiction or any other substance addiction of any type. This is a story about one of the newest, little analyzed and studied, types of addictions, occurring the last few years. It is a story about internet and gaming addiction, and how I got to get out of it by a series of events. It is also a story regarding what I learnt in the process, and how all these changes have manifested in my life.
I am from Greece, and I live alone in the city I am currently studying Electrical and Computer Engineering, since September, 2011. I am 21 years old.
To the point now. I do not know whether I should or not get into many details, but I will tell you this. I was gaming a lot. Like a lot. My daily life was like this: I would wake up, start gaming for 12-16 hours straight, and then go to sleep. In addition, my sleep hours were seriously messed up. Like, one day, I would go to sleep at 9 a.m. and the next day I’d go to sleep at 2 p.m. I had also allowed myself to get to 101kg, since I hadn’t had any exercise for at least 3 years. There was “obviously” no time for me to do any other activities, since I was fully committing both my time and energy to the only thing that mattered at the time, gaming.
There is an explanation to that though, something that was on my mind at the time, to justify my behavior. I was aiming to become a professional e-sports athlete. I was aiming for the very top, and I was putting the appropriate effort in going after that particular dream. But what I got to forget is that I have always had a lot of other interests too, like martial arts or music, which I had totally neglected during the last 3 years. I wanted to do and achieve so many more things, but the illusionary thought “I can do that tomorrow” kept me from ever doing anything else.
Now that I’ve briefly explained how my life was at the time, let me tell you how the changes occured.
To begin with, I was already in a mood, in which I was regularly thinking that, even though I was achieving what I wanted in that particular subject, I was not achieving anything else in any other, my studies included. That, of course, wasn’t keeping me from keeping that lifestyle up, but at least the seed was planted. And then, like a miracle, the following happened. My best friend had his internet connection stopped by his provider, because they were facing some economic difficulties at the time and they hadn’t paid the bill on time. Somebody would ask though, how did that help me?
Well, it changed everything.
In the beginning, I was wondering how he would survive not having an internet connection. It seemed impossible to me at the time, because, when I was trying to put myself into his shoes, I wasn’t able to find a way out. It was hard for him as well, being in a position he had never though he would be, and he was trying to find ways to fight it, by being constantly out of the house, downloading TV series from friends’ houses and watching them at home, etc. But, as the time passed, he started changing, in a way I couldn’t understand at the time. He started reading books, something he hadn’t done for a long time and he started training daily and losing weight. He was talking about how he was thinking that the fact he didn’t have an internet connection had been actually helping him do things he wouldn’t do otherwise. I, on the other hand, was just watching him, believing that this change would fade away the moment he had his internet connection back. It did occur to me, though, that something didn’t seem right. He was too fine for all this to be a lie.
And then, 7 weeks later, he got his internet connection back. And what I saw was totally different to what I was expecting. His change didn’t fade away. He was still training daily and reading books in a regular basis. The internet didn’t get his full devotion again. Instead, he used the internet to further progress what he had already started, like studying. And I was more confused than ever. The seed was growing…
In addition to all that, another, slightly stupid, reason helped me to get a better understanding of what I actually wanted at the time. Under the influence of my best friend, I watched a TV series called White Collar (I guess some of you might have watched it). In this series the main protagonist is neither an absolute genius like in most other ones, nor does he have anything supernatural. He is instead a very clever person, with a lot of knowledge. So, while I was watching the series I kept feeling that, you know, I could be like this guy. All I actually needed to do was start reading books again (which I had stopped for like 4-5 years) and actually pursue the success I always wanted to have, in new fields (apart from gaming I mean). I also thought that it was a good idea to devote more time to my studies than earlier, before it was too late.
What I did from then on took a lot of time to manifest into actual results. I stopped gaming, almost completely, and started trying to spend my time into productive activities. It is hard to get from zero to hero in one go, so I went step-by-step: I started attending my university lectures, and I also started reading some books. I kept that steady, up to my university exams, when I studied quite a lot more than in the previous ones. That also showed on the fact that I passed some of my examinations, and not without a fine grade.
Then, the summer came. Not long after my vacation started, I figured that I was still in love with the gaming world, but that I was also interested in another aspect of it. Game programming. And that kept me occupied for the most part. Furthermore, it was the first summer in a long time that I wasn’t actually spending most of my day by staying inside the house gaming, but by going out a lot, like going to the beach daily, going to parties, etc. It was a truly refreshing experience, which helped me keep up the effort, and allowed me to root out any nostalgia left towards my old life. Eventually, I got to the point where I was only having productive time, but there was still one problem I hadn’t addresed; my physical condition.
We are now getting to the part where all these start manifesting into results. As soon as summer vacation ended, I started Kick-Boxing and MMA training, resulting to a 12kg loss in only 4 months. I also aced my university exams during that period, and I started spending my time in a totally productive way, by studying, reading books, programming and other activities. Finally, I shifted my attention into fixing my social life in the city I am studying, and I am proud of having a few new friends by now. The seed is being harvested!
Now, about 1 year after this all started, I see myself in the mirror and find myself to be completely renewed and improved in almost any aspect I can think of. Both me and my best friends have taken a huge shift to the right direction, and we “march” towards our dreams. Moreover, I have decided to write an article every week if possible, but none of them is planned to be as large as this one. I get to know myself better through writing, and it is something I have always loved doing. So, expect to hear from me again soon!
Update June 2018
It took me some time since I first wrote that post back in 2014, but in 2018 I created a blog called The Metalearners, where I write about self-improvement and personal development through learning how to learn. There, I very recently wrote a story on how this blog came to be, where I illustrate how this gaming addiction has played an important role in my journey. Make sure to check it out!
I’ve created a FREE cheatsheet for you, titled “7 MUST-KNOW Concepts to Get In Charge of your Learning”. By learning these concepts, your learning ability will be increased dramatically, quickly.