2018 has been a strangely illuminating year thus far. I don’t know how to describe it any better than that.
Towards the tail end of 2017, I thought I’d had everything figured out. I knew exactly what I was doing both on the writing front and on the streaming front, and I deliberately ignored the voice in my head that had begun to tell me that things were not going to go according to plan. It whispered its warnings and I would shout my denials in response. As we all know however, denying reality doesn’t change reality, and only ensures that reality will smack you in the face that much harder when it inevitably does so.
Which has kind of been the story of my last week, truth be told.
The first reality smack I had to deal with came from the Twitch streaming side of my life; when I finally had to face the fact that Destiny 2 was not going to be the kind of “home base” game that I was hoping it would be. I’ve known for a while now that I couldn’t be anything other than a variety broadcaster (that is to say, a broadcaster who streams multiple different games), but I still wanted to have that one game I could call home. A single game that could form the foundation of my channel and while I still went out and explored more linear, story-driven games like The Last of Us. Unfortunately, Destiny 2 eventually proved to be wholly incapable of filling this role, and my entire plan for Twitch went up in flames along with it.
The second reality smack hit the writing side of my life, and is so recent that my cheek still stings. I’d thought (as my previous blog post no doubt demonstrates) that I had finally figured out what it was that was preventing me from moving forward with my various writing projects. That this deep-rooted, semi-conscious fear of The Demon was the one and only thing that kept sabotaging my efforts to finally finish a book and get it out into the world. Based on this “knowledge” I charged headfirst back into writing this infernal project and paid no heed to the whispers in my brain telling me that The Demon wasn’t ready for this yet. Yet again, my instincts were warning me that this was a bad idea, that I needed to give The Demon 2.0 more time to settle and adjust to the dramatic new direction I had taken the story. So of course I ignored these warnings, and crashed straight into a brick wall after little more than a week.
This impact finally got me wondering “Okay, what is actually going wrong here?” Because it’s clear that something was, and yet I couldn’t quite place my finger on what it was. I was more motivated than I can ever remember being before, I’ve gained enough small successes as a Twitch streamer to have real confidence that I’m on the right track with it, so seriously… what is actually going wrong with me here?
That question bounced from one corner of my mind to another for a good few days, and I couldn’t figure out an answer to it until I caught the latest episode of ProfessorBroman’s (a fellow Twitch streamer) “Ask Broman” podcast. In it, Broman expresses the thought that people who have a chip on their shoulder tend to be more successful than those without, because that chip gives them that little extra bit of drive to not just be successful, but prove all their naysayers wrong. Now, as someone with a pretty significant chip on his own shoulder, this wasn’t an entirely new thought for me. But to hear it come from someone else? To hear someone who has already achieved the level of success that I aspire to? For some reason, that’s what allowed it to really sink into my brain and light up a thought-bulb that had only ever flickered before.
You see, I don’t think it’s The Demon 2.0 and all the memories that come with it that I’m afraid of.
I think what I’m really afraid of is success.
I think what I’m really afraid of is my dreams coming true in a way that I simply cannot dismiss or ignore.
I think what I am truly, deep-down terrified of is that if I actually do succeed, if I do actually manage to build a life-supporting career out of being an author and a Twitch streamer, I’ll lose that chip on my shoulder and no longer have the same drive or passion that I used to achieve that success.
And what tells me this fear is real is that I can’t talk my way out of it. I can’t come up with some kind of rational, step-by-step plan to overcome it and move on. It’s the kind of fear that sucks the air from your lungs and steals the warmth from your blood, leaving you to suffocate alone in the freezing night. It’s ever-present, inescapable, and will drown you in despair if you give it even the hair’s breadth of a chance.
And I’ve been giving it a lot more than that for years.
I don’t know what this means for my New Year’s Resolution to free myself from fear, because this fear doesn’t live in my head. This fear lives in my soul, and has lived their for so long that I don’t know if I can exorcise it. What I do know is that my journey is no longer about using the chip on my shoulder to prove “them” wrong. It’s now about using that chip on my shoulder to prove myself wrong. I need to prove to myself that losing my shoulder-chip will not rob me of the drive and passion that’s kept my head above water, and there’s only one way that I know to do that.
I’ve already gone back and taken a second look at The Wolf, and you know what? I’m honestly surprised by how well it held up to my “own-worst-critic” gaze. That by itself has given me a much needed boost to my self-confidence as a writer, and has confirmed for me that my first step towards overcoming this fear of mine is finishing and publishing The Wolf. It won’t be the first brick I lay down in this career construction project of mine, but I feel like it’ll be the most important.
Until next time. 😉