The Rut

If you’re in America, you’re most likely stuck in the house. If you’re like me, you’re most likely not phased by it. I’ve had plenty of things to occupy my time while cooped up; video games, TV shows, and just trying to get this site up and running. But every now and then, when there really isn’t anything superfluous to do, and you’re stuck with the necessity of trying to find a job offer that still never comes, or trying to start another project that gets into your head, but never materializes into anything, it can feel like your life is stuck in the rut while you have climbing equipment. It feels like you are stuck, trundling along with little purpose, when in reality you can easily scale out of the rut. But the comfort of the rut keeps you in, and you don’t want it to, but you don’t want to leave the cold comfort of the ditch behind, cause what’s outside it is scary.

Recently, I’ve been trying to will myself to start up a project on Unity. Just something that would up the credentials on my resume, along with a fun exercise in game design; trying to make a card game. As you can probably guess, card games are on the easier side in terms of programming a minimum viable product, and I’m sure there are plenty of tutorials across the web. But the act of starting a project, willing myself to do something without prompting, is difficult to the point of depressing.

Now sure, once the ball is rolling, I can get most anything done. Bonus if it’s a project that must be finished within a scheduled time frame. It’s why my last college semester was so smooth for me, because there was always something to do, and the work rarely let up. But it was also not MY creation, and as someone who is into getting into the game design space, creating things you yourself come up with feels like the first step. Despite all that prestige and admiration for the craft, why is it that starting a simple game where only the most basic of code needs to be done for it to work so daunting?

Obviously if I had the answer, I wouldn’t be writing this piece. I really wish I had an answer. The best advice I’ve been given is to just take it slow and let yourself get motivated naturally. But my brain has so many other plans, easy, simple, least resistance, least effort. None of these thoughts are going to get me forward, and yet I follow them because it’s so hard not to. Even writing this post for this long requires talking myself into it, and this is just writing whatever I feel like.

The home life now is rout and boring and without anyone taking any job submission I give out, there’s not much I can do to change it without some self motivation to start something new, which I barely have. Maybe it’s the lack of resources making it hard for me. Maybe I don’t have climbing gear to get out of the rut. But what if I actually do, and I like being at the bottom? What if I like not being ambitious, even if I think I can be? It scares me to think that after 7 more years when I reach my 30’s, I’ll still never accomplish anything I wanted, or even be in a position to do so, all because I decided to play it safe.

I have these abilities, this uncanny need to program, to code, to essentially create something from nothing. And yet I always feel like, with every passing day, even if something else was accomplished, like hard yard work, or construction, or cleaning, or any of the numerous things I do around this prison of a house, I still feel like I’ve gone nowhere. Every day feels like a waste, a waste of my potential, a waste of my skill, and at a certain point, I start wondering, “do I have the skills or potential?” It’s so easy for me to get to this point, this feeling of dread for the future, this feeling that I’ll never even get a job to sustain myself, and I don’t know how easy it is to escape it.

I know what I’d like to believe, that I was given no tools to escape the ditch. That I’m here on my own, having to learn all these seemingly simple concepts that most adults seemed to have figured out by now, having a handicap that I can’t get rid of. But how can I believe any of what I think? I can barely start working on a simple card game. I can barely will myself to work on most things without some instructor guiding me. Because it’s the path of least resistance, it’s the path of least failure, and it’s a comfortable path.

The rut has me. I made it, and I don’t even know if I have the power to get out of it. And the worst part is that only a little progress upwards feels like accomplishing nary an inch. The only things that would make me truly sure I’ve gotten out is either a job, or a finished project of mine. But only one of those is something I can control, and my brain fights me every day to even begin the climb out.

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