A Sparkling Personality Type

I’d like to think of myself as a purely scientific person all the time. I wish I could say I always listen to facts and only facts… but listen, I love personality tests.

And I know there’s a lot to be said about the legitimacy of a test that claims to understand your entire life and personality through only a few questions. I know personality quizzes tend to pull off their eerie accuracy through making sweeping, vague statements that almost anyone can relate to. That’s how completely unscientific classifications like horoscopes work, but it’s more or less how more specific personality tests operate as well.

Still… I can’t help but love them.

A few days ago, I was hanging out in my dorm floor’s lounge when my business school roommate announced she was taking the Myers-Briggs personality test for a class. This sparked a conversation throughout the lounge as everyone took the test for themselves and excitedly shared their results.

The Myers-Briggs personality test creates an overview of how a person interacts with the world. It involves four categories of two possibilities each. You can either be an Introvert (I) or an Extravert (E) which determines whether you focus on your inner world or your outer world, Sensing (S) or Intuition (N) which determines whether you’re satisfied with basic information or you prefer to interpret it for yourself, Thinking (T) or Feeling (F) which determines if you approach problems emotionally or logically first, and finally Judging (J) or Perceiving (P) which determines whether you prefer to have decisions made for you or prefer to make decisions yourself. I had already taken the test years before and gotten the result of INFJ (Introvert, Intuition, Feeling, Judging).

I retook the test to the same result and found myself shocked at the incredible accuracy of the ensuing description. How did they know so much about my life, my world-view, my relationships, my goals?

Well… it’s a detailed test. But it also made me think about personality tests in general and how despite their sometimes shaky scientific merit, there’s still something valuable about them.

See, I’ve spent a lot of time lately thinking about myself. I assume it’s a college thing, to start thinking about the person you want to be and the life you want to live, but I think those thoughts also lead to having to think about your current life. I’ve made a lot of realizations about myself in the last two years or so that have brought all nineteen years of my life into clarity. I imagine that process will most likely continue for the rest of my life.

But it’s not an easy process. I think you become so used to the way your own brain works that it’s hard to step out of it, per se, and look at it critically. The fact that it’s taken me so long to figure out some fundamental things about myself speaks to this difficulty.

So I think there’s something to these personality quizzes. As much as they may not be the most scientific thing in existence, they do provide a pretty easy avenue to talking about yourself. It’s much easier to identify yourself as an INFJ, or a Virgo, or a Ravenclaw than someone with a lot of empathy, or someone who likes to have control over every situation, or someone who is more comfortable with books than with people.

It’s hard to sit down with other people and talk about yourself seriously – you’ve gotta overcome that modesty barrier, and you’ve gotta be brave and vulnerable. But when you’re talking in fun categories, in personality types, it takes down these barriers somewhat.

I mean, I could see that firsthand that night in the lounge. We excitedly shared deep details about how our minds work, how we view relationships and goals. I learned a lot of personal detail about the people on my floor, and it was fascinating and beautiful.

And it was all inspired by a personality test – a collection of four letters. And in that moment I was convinced that even if personality tests aren’t always based in facts, they’re still an excellent tool for self-reflection and self-discovery. And isn’t that a unique and useful thing worth celebrating?

Advertisements

The Death of a Pony

Recently, I’ve found myself doing what I thought I’d never do again – playing a browser-based pet game.

That’s right, gape in shock and awe at all the time I’ve spent recently on Lioden and Tattered Weave, two games featuring cute, multicolored animals to raise and train.

These sort of games are definitely, definitely not new for me. My parents and old friends can attest to how much time I used to spend on games like Neopets, Webkinz, Howrse, and the topic of this post: Ponystars.

Usually I like to try and draw some sort of philosophical or analytical point in these posts, but to be honest, I want this post to commemorate a community that was really important to me years ago that now no longer exists. I don’t really have any kind of deeper point to this other than a chance to remember how important it was to me back in the day.

Nowadays, a Google search for Ponystars will probably pull up a few scattered news articles about its untimely demise at the hands of copyright law as well some broken links from “girl gaming” websites. There’s a Facebook group remembering the site, but it hasn’t been updated in a long, long time. Google Images pulls up a few pictures of the ponies and screenshots of the website back when it was still up and running. But no one really talks about it anymore and that makes me kind of sad, honestly.

I joined Ponystars back in 2009, when I was ten years old. I was a horse-obsessed kid back then, even though I had never really ridden horses. I was raised on My Little Pony. I loved animals. So Ponystars appealed to me immediately. A website that lets me raise and breed multi-colored pastel ponies? Uh, yes please.

My first pony was a winged air pony named Magenta. She had, as her name suggests, a magenta coat, blue eyes, and a green mane. Later in life I gave her a little tattoo on her butt cutiemark-style of a rainbow-and-music-note design. In the rich story I made up in my head around my ponies, she was a beautiful and lively queen of her herd.

Her king was a horned earth pony named Ice Blizzard, all blue with brown eyes. I was delighted to discover they bred to produce lots of cute purple ponies (my favorite color.)

The breeding quickly became one of my favorite aspects of the game. You could breed two pony parents together and their coat, mane, and eye colors became the range of colors their offspring’s coat, mane, and eye colors could be. I would give these ponies long, elaborate names, often inspired by songs or book quotes.

(Off the top of my head, I remember one cream colored, blue-maned air pony named “Lost in Space with Nothing but a Few Cream Puffs and My Dignity, Sort Of.” I couldn’t make that one up if I tried.)

Another obsession of mine in the breeding aspect of the game was breeding for “glitches.”

When you begin the game, you roll for your first pony by designing their parents. You pick their coat, mane, and eye colors by setting the RGB values. You could pick from a color picker, but for a short time early in the site’s history, you could also just type the numerical RGB values in directly. And while that’s all fine and good, it allowed for some… er… interesting experiments.

Some enterprising early users used this creator to create ponies with colors wildly outside of the RGB range. Some, called “Plitches,” had RGB values of higher than the standard 255, 255, 255 maximum. They usually appeared bright red or orange, but in rarer cases could appear black, white, or green. “Glitches,” on the other hand, were rarer still, and had values lower than 0,0,0. Their color ranges varied much more wildly than Plitches did, which made them ultimately more valuable.

Eventually, the glitch was fixed and ponies were no longer able to be created with these impossible color ranges, but the ponies that had already been created remained, and people learned how to breed more. The easiest way was to breed two glitched parents together, but even in that case it was rare that their glitched colors would pass on to their offspring. It was also possible to breed an all black pony (0,0,0) to a glitched pony to create glitched offspring, but that was even more rare and difficult.

I can’t remember if I ever successfully bred my own glitched pony, but I certainly spent a lot of the in-game currency on buying them from other users. They were my prized possessions.

Another aspect of the game that convinced me to sink real-life money was the customization options. There existed hundreds of “traits” in the game – little clothing items you could buy and dress up your pony with. These items ranged from accessories, to special coats, manes, hooves, backgrounds, and props the pony could be displayed with. Most of these items could only be bought for the special paid currency, so I convinced my parents to buy me gift cards for them on many occasions. I took pride in customizing my ponies, matching colors and styles and tweaking them until they were just right.

Was the amount of money I spent on this doomed game a total waste? Oh yes, absolutely.

However, I think through all the breeding and customization of those pretty, pretty ponies, it was the community that kept me coming back. The website had a large, populated forum for discussing the game with other users. People would use these forums not only to chat but also to run contests, giveaways, and even tiny in-game businesses – selling items and ponies to other users. I spent hours and hours on these forums – probably more time than I spent on the actual website.

However, the biggest aspect of the community came in the special Ponystars IRC, or Internet Relay Chat. It was a website-sponsored instant messaging website, and there I spent a ton of time chatting with people not only about the website, but about life.

It’s strange, to me, looking back on these days. I’ve never really been the sort of person to have Internet friends, but my time on Ponystars was the only exception. I knew the regulars of the IRC like I knew real-life friends. We had inside jokes. We helped each other out with customization and naming advice. We held giveaways. We talked about our lives.

And you know the weirdest part? A ton of those people were way, way older than me. And not in a creepy, internet predator way. I mean, a lot of my closest friends on this website were teenagers, or college-aged, or even parents with children! I remember often being the youngest in the group chat, and being praised for my maturity.

Nowadays that sends off all sorts of creeper bells in my head, but back in the day I didn’t worry about it. We were all connected in our love of our pastel ponies. (I mean, granted, there was no sharing of personal information, since we all tended to go by our usernames and there were rules against sharing anything else that might be incriminating, but still.)

And then, after a few years, Ponystars was struck by a litany of copyright claims from another, similar website called PonyIsland, and the website was unceremoniously closed down for good. I remember saving pictures of all of my favorite ponies, and mourning their loss with the other members of my little IRC community.

I looked for those pictures in the process of creating this post, but to my dismay, I couldn’t find them. I imagine they’re probably rotting in a dusty corner of one of my Mom’s old laptops. And I still sometimes stop and wonder what happened to all those people I used to talk to so regularly. Where are they now? What sort of lives do they leave? Do they remember me, gillystar45, young in age but “mature?”

I’d love to talk to some of them again. Maybe that’s the point of this post, But it’s a long shot. The more realistic purpose is to pay homage to a personally important, dearly departed website.

Will I ever find another pet website quite like Ponystars? Probably not. But then again, I’ll never be that same horse-obsessed ten-year-old girl. But I can still remember those days, full of pastel prettiness and a unique community.

“Are you excited?”

I’m pretty sure there was no way I could have made this week’s post without any mention of my finally moving into my dorm in Bloomington on Tuesday. I think it’s because so many adults view college as one of the best parts of their lives that so many also constantly want to know how excited I am for it…

And, I am excited, I think. I think. But beyond that excitement, and that also deep, gnawing fear, I haven’t really been totally sure of what to think about it all.

See, this summer has been a lot different than any other summer I’ve ever lived through. I’ve felt more independent, more on my own than I ever have before. In the sudden lack of structure left by the end of marching band, I filled it myself with my own structure. I’ve never had to do that before.

I’m glad for that, because I feel like it’s prepared me for college in a way nothing else really could. It’s a strange feeling though, since I don’t even know what it’s preparing me for exactly.

What I mean is: I’ve never been so uncertain of what the next year of my life would look like. I love preparation. I love control. I love knowing exactly what things will be like. But I’ve been to the orientations, I’ve done the paperwork, I’ve made the schedule, I’ve toured the campus. I know where I’ll be living and who I’ll be living with, and where I’ll be eating and where I’ll be going to class. I know all these facts but I don’t know anything else.

I don’t know how it will feel. I don’t know if I’m going to love it immediately, or if I’ll have to adapt. I don’t know what my meals will taste like or what the dorms will sound like at night when I’m trying to sleep. I don’t know who I’ll make friends with and what they’ll be like.

And I know so many people in the same position as me who are excited for college despite all that not knowing. I really have to commend them for that, because for me it’s terrifying. It’s cancelling out any kind of excitement I might feel for this upcoming year.

I just can’t honestly say I’m wholly excited for something that I know so little about. I know it’ll probably be fine. I know I’ll adapt, and I’ll grow to love the independence and the fun and the new things. But right now it feels like a lie to say that I’m excited. It’s an oversimplification.

I keep coming back to the first time I was a freshman – going into high school- and how painful that transition was for me. It’s fresh in my mind – feeling lonely all the time, feeling scared when everyone else was excited, feeling like I was progressing slower than anyone else – it doesn’t feel that long ago. And yes, I know I’ve changed since then. I’m very much not the same person I was. I’ve overcome a lot since then… including those first feelings.

But hey, maybe I’m overthinking it. Because, truly, I am excited. I’m excited to try new things and meet new people, and truly find out what sort of a person I am on my own for the first time. I’m excited to learn more about the world, to get opportunities… to have fun, honestly. And it’s not like I’ll be doing it alone. I’m not going so far away from home, and I’m blessed to be living in an era of instant communication.

So, I suppose the answer to the question of whether or not I’m excited is a yes. It’s a quiet and unsure yes at this point, sure. But I know there will be a day, when I’m older, when I see someone in the same position as me now and I’ll ask them if they’re excited, because all the fear I’m feeling right now will be a thing of the distant past.

Or, at least, I hope.

How Men Teach Women to Hate Men

A few years ago, my mother sat on my bed and told me that I shouldn’t hate men.

“Some men are bad, honey,” she said, “But there are also great men out there. You shouldn’t hate them all.”

At the time, I was frustrated. I had just got done telling her about Anita Sarkeesian’s “Women in Gaming” series, which I had binged that day, and it had awoken my mind to a big, giant, societal problem that I had never been able to bring into context the way she could. Suddenly, for the first time, someone else understood what it was like to be a girl wanting to see herself reflected in the culture she consumed. A girl who wasn’t a damsel, or a hardened (but still sexy) badass, or a flimsy love interest. Just. A hero. A main character. With agency and flaws and a story everyone could relate to.

But still I understand her point. Yes, okay, not all men are terrible. I know from experience that this is true. And to believe that all men are terrible doesn’t really help anything, it just makes my own existence harder since no matter how much I might “hate” them, I’ll still have to interact with them.

But also, I don’t hate men.

I don’t! I don’t hate them. I’ve met too many good men to hate them all. My dad, my friends, and many public figures I look up to – there are so many examples of good men.

But here’s the problem: I have to explain that to people.

That has to be the caveat. “I think women are systematically oppressed by a masculine-focused society BUT I don’t hate men.” That “but” has to be there. I can’t focus on women’s struggles without also bringing into account how men feel about those struggles, or else I get labelled as a crazy man-hater.

I don’t hate men! But you know who constantly pushes my capacity not to hate men? Men.

No wait, not men in general. No, a very specific kind of men.

You see, nine times out of ten, the people who encourage women to hate men are not women. Perhaps this is different in other people’s experience, but every time I’ve struggled with my “I don’t hate men” stance, it’s not been because of a woman’s view on how men are, but rather a man’s view of how men are.

Take for example a recent term I discovered. The “nu-male.”

Nu-males, according to Urban Dictionary, are “men (with “men” being used as loosely as possible) lacking self-respect who are completely devoid of any masculinity and will jump at any moment to defend women online for feminist brownie points while falsely believing that in return, they’ll receive sexual favors.”

I discovered this term in the comments section in a video of one of my favorite Youtubers, Folding Ideas, and it, at the time, terrified me. I’ve always liked Folding Ideas not only for his interesting and in-depth analysis of media, but also for his respect not only for women but for all quote-unquote “minorities,” often criticizing media for disrespecting them. That being said, his entire channel does not focus on feminist and socially conscious readings of media – that’s just an occasional topic.

Still, from the look of the comments section, you would think he talks constantly about feminism, and for only one purpose: to gain sexual favor from women.

Perhaps, for men, this idea is not terrifying. In fact, definitely for men it’s not terrifying. “Nu-male” is just a joke, a “witty” and cynical observation or a way to put down other men they disagree with.

However, for me, it just creates this world where every man wants nothing more than to have sex with every other woman. It creates a world where no man truly wants to treat women with respect, they just want to get into their pants through any means necessary.

I know that isn’t true. I don’t believe all men are like that. But so many men seem to believe it.

I mean, look at the idea of the “friend zone.” That popular notion that anytime a man is friends with a woman, he’s losing out on something. He’s missing his chance. “Poor guy, friend-zoned like that.”

Or, related, the “nice guy,” only being kind to women to pursue a romantic or sexual relationship with her.

Or, when I was young, my father telling me that all boys are terrible and that I should never trust them.

“But, dad, you’re a boy!” I would say.

“Doesn’t matter,” he would say.

And so with all these terms, it’s obvious to me that the negative stereotypes about how men treat women come just as often, if not more often from men themselves. And yes, it’s more often than not in a joking manner, but its still indicative of a culture where men accept these stereotypes as unchangeable fact. And yet they are confused why women react negatively to the idea that no man will ever respect her as a human being.

Feminism, as a movement, doesn’t hate men. In fact, many feminism ideals benefit men as well, freeing them from their own gender roles and expecting decency and human empathy from them.

But those women who do hate men aren’t taught to do so by other women. No, there’s a litany of men out there who do the job for them.

 

Taking a Holiday

Maybe this is just my experience, but graduating high school has made me nostalgic like nothing ever has.

I guess it’s because graduating high school is the first huge change I’ve ever had to deal with in my life. I’ve graduated from schools before – twice, actually – but elementary school into middle school and middle school into high school wasn’t that huge of a change. School was still school, and the people were mostly the same, as was the place. My role in the world stayed pretty constant as well.

But now, leaving behind high school, I also leave behind the majority of people I know, the place I grew up in, and I’m taking on more personal responsibility than I’ve ever had before. I’ve been an “adult” but never before have I had to prove that by living independently.

I’m thankful I have the summer as a transitional period – I feel like it’s helping a lot, believe me – but there’s still a really loud, huge part of me that takes joy and comfort from turning away from the very real, very scary future staring me down and clutching onto the places and things I loved in the past.

After all, the past is done. It’s already happened. I don’t have to deal with the struggles and the hardships of the past anymore, now I can just focus on the good things that are past. It’s easy and comfortable.

And so… Holiday World.

For several summers in my childhood, my family made it a tradition to go with a few other families to Holiday World in Santa Claus, Indiana. We would camp at the park’s official campsite, Lake Rudolph, and spend one or two days in the park while spending the rest of the time cooking meals over the campfire and enjoying “nature.”

That tradition more or less fell to the wayside with the arrival of marching band, and the fact that all of the families got busier and busier as their kids got older, but it was enough of a monolith of my past that it remains one of my favorite places in the whole wide world.

It was Holiday World where I rode my first roller coaster. It was “The Raven,” the smallest of Holiday World’s three major wooden coasters. I was goaded into it by my friend, and I prepared by watching first person ride videos and talking nervously and incessantly in line to distract myself. I enjoyed the ride, but felt that I had fulfilled my quota of big rides and didn’t ride any others for the rest of that trip. I vowed to take on the next two biggest coasters in the following two years, but I enjoyed the middle-biggest coaster “The Legend” so thoroughly the next year that I also took on “The Voyage,” the biggest and baddest.

Now, I love roller coasters and thrill rides. They fulfill a need to feel brave in a controlled and almost 100% safe environment.

It was at Holiday World that I first got a taste of independence. By the time I had been to the park two or three times, my parents decided I was old enough to wander it with my friends without their supervision. I was probably only in middle school then, possibly even younger, so it was the first time ever I was allowed to dictate exactly where I wanted to go and when and how without my parents. It was liberating.

So I guess, in that way, it makes sense why I approached the summer after my senior year of high school with the desire to go back. Holiday World was a place of childhood fun and innocence, but it was simultaneously a place where I grew up and came into my own. It was, in a way, like dipping my toe into what independence feels like, into what courage feels like.

And now I’m going again with two friends. One was the one who goaded me into taking that first ride on “The Raven,” while the other isn’t too fond of roller coasters herself (but who knows, Holiday World has a habit of changing people’s minds on that topic, as I know firsthand).

I will, for the first time, be able to drive the golf carts around the campsite since I now have a drivers’ license. Now, that independence I felt in the park will be available to me at the campsite too.

Now, I’ve got the keys and the license to go wherever, whenever. I’ve got decisions to make, and thrills and dangers around every corner. So I suppose while it is a place of nostalgia and childhood happiness for me, it’s also feels a little bit like a microcosm of the world I’m living in now.

(Well, except for the free soft drinks and sunscreen. That’s not, in my experience, something that happens in your adult life too much.)

The End

We’re 26 weeks into the year. Doing my math correctly, this is the perfect mid-point of the year, weeks-wise. I’m halfway through my promise to myself at the beginning of the year that I would write one blog post per week.

So let’s take stock. Where are we? How has Absoludicrous grown since I made my pledge on January 1st of this year? What have I done? What have I accomplished?

Well, I can say that this blog has gotten a lot more views than I expected. I started this not really thinking anyone would read it besides people I know in real life. While that still remains the majority of the views, I do get a constant trickle of views from people all around the world. If you’re one of those people who doesn’t know me in real life – thank you so much. You exceed my expectations just by giving this blog a glance.

Not to say my known viewers aren’t appreciated – of course you are – you’re just more or less expected. I know a lot of really kind people who, against the odds, support me in so many ways and your support is something I count on.

Don’t be alarmed by the title of this blog post. This isn’t the end, far from it if I can help it. But it is something I wanted to talk about. I want to talk about the end. Specifically, the end of creative projects.

This blog is a creative project. I am not doing it for a grade or monetary gain. I do it because it gives me a weekly creative outlet. And you know what? On my end, it’s been a smashing success. It’s kept me writing more consistently than anything I’ve ever done, and ya’ll seem to enjoy it so there’s no losses anywhere.

It’s this blog, however, that caused me to make a real connection to a video I watched recently made by one of my favorite Youtubers ever, Dan O. of Folding Ideas.

It’s kind of a long video (but really good), so I’ll summarize. In it, Dan is asked on his stream how best to find motivation for finishing creative projects. Dan speaks frankly on a number of topics regarding motivation and creativity but ultimately comes to one overarching conclusion – finish your work.

I know it sounds useless answering the question of “How do I finish my work?” with “Finish your work,” but honestly, it’s astoundingly good advise. Creative work is unique in the fact that it is never really done. There is always a way to improve. There’s always a few more tweaks to be done, a few more edits, and some chopping and skewing to make it just perfect.

And that’s noble, in a way. The idea that something is never quite done, and so the artist must work tirelessly forever and ever to perfect it, hoping for that one day that it’s flawless and beautiful and everyone who sees it or hears it is brought to their knees.

The reality, though, is that if you were to work on something until it is perfect, until it is done, you will never finish. As I said, there’s always something, some improvement. And so Dan advises self-imposed deadlines. He speaks about giving himself a week to finish a project and then letting it go at the end of that week, regardless of where it is in its production.

And watching this video, I found myself really resonating with this message. I’m a perfectionist. I hate when anything I do is less than great. I want all my writings to be showstoppers, to be hits, and in the past that’s bit me in the butt. When I was younger I was a serial project-starter, but I almost never finished anything. I would start something, bright and motivated, but by the end of the arduous process of trying to make it perfect, I would lose interest, or, alternatively, I would just keep it on a backburner, for a rainy day. Locked in creative purgatory, forever and ever.

There were only a handful of projects I actually finished and all of them were finished because of deadlines. NaNoWriMo was the big one. The self-imposed deadline of 50,000 words by the end of the month was the first thing that ever spurred me to finish anything. And beyond that… is this blog.

This blog is a series of self-imposed deadlines. If I fail to post something every single Sunday, nothing really happens. I don’t lose out on a prize or reward, I’m not physically punished. The world continues to turn. Yet, these deadlines still exist… emotionally. Mentally. Every week I post something new, or else I let myself and anyone who wanted to read that post down.

And even more helpful, the deadlines give me a reason to stop working. To declare something finished. I can’t tell you the number of weeks that I despised the post that finally came out on Sunday. 99% of the time, the post that’s in my head is a million times better than the post that eventually gets written, and yet my deadline forces me to stop tweaking in search of that perfect ideal and post it anyway.

And you know what? That’s okay. Because instead of me working and working and working to perfect one post that may or may not ever come out, I now have over 26 posts – some of which I’m really proud of – that are here for everyone to see. 26 posts in the hand are better than a million in the… bush, I guess?

And how do I find the motivation? I don’t, I guess. As sad as that sounds, the motivation is the deadline looming at the end of the week. As much as I wish I could be fueled only by pure-hearted love of writing and chutzpah, it’s the deadline that gets things done for me. It’s the deadline that has caused this blog to exist and keep running week after week. It’s how I keep the motor running.

These 26 weeks have been a blast. I’m not even close to being done yet, so stick around for 26 more and beyond.

Shadowverse and The Benefit of Losing

Recently, I was introduced and goaded into playing a mobile game called Shadowverse by a close friend of mine. I had heard about it for weeks – a fantasy-themed card game of sorts, where the player builds decks of cards in order to defeat other’s decks of cards in a sort of card battle.

Despite my friend’s enthusiasm over the game, it never seemed like the sort of thing I’d enjoy. I’ve never really been a big fan of card games of Shadowverse’s ilk for one main reason – I hate losing. It’s not really a pride thing… well, okay, it is. What I mean is, it’s not that I want to prove myself as the best in everything, it’s that I can’t stand being bad at anything. I’m usually okay with being average or passable at something, it’s just that the problem with games like Shadowverse is that there’s often a huge learning curve.

Starting out in a game without knowing anything often means you have to play against people who do know what they’re doing in order to learn, and I hate doing that. Maybe it’s being a “gifted and talented” kid my whole life, but I have a major vendetta against seeming ignorant in any situation, even little games. It’s the reason why I usually dislike learning new card or board games with people who play them a lot – it makes me feel stupid.

So I entered Shadowverse with a lot of hesitance. For a long while, I refused to play online against other people. I made lots of jokes to my friend about how terrible I was at the game with the purpose of making it known to everyone that at the very least I was not ignorant of my ineptitude. And let me tell you, this method of playing the game was not at all successful. The little missions in the game more or less required you to play against other people if you wanted any sort of rewards.

So what did I do? Well… I hesitantly dipped my toe into the pool of competition. I played some online matches, lost a ton, and then drew back into my single-player safety for a while. Eventually, little by little, I managed to convince myself that it was okay to lose. It also helped that I had the support of my friend. (At one point, he even literally built a deck for me – and his strategy of making one became the skeleton for all of the decks I made moving forward.)

And you know what? Eventually, I became halfway decent at the game. I lost a lot. A lot. There was a solid three or four days where I did nothing but lose. But eventually I made my way over the metaphorical hump into mediocrity and the game, honestly, became fun. And you know what? A lot of times, it was the losses that led to the most delightful moments of brilliance. Getting pummeled into the ground by someone else’s deck always gave me tips for improving my own deck.

But anyway, I say all this not just to talk about a niche mobile game I’ve eventually become halfway decent at, nor to encourage anyone to play it (though, like, it’s actually really well-made with lovely art and really surprisingly impressive voice acting, so, if you’re into that, do check it out.) What I mean to say is, losing is often a good thing.

That’s not to say it’s an easy thing, because it’s obviously not. It can be annoying to devastatingly heartbreaking. But I’ve come to find, this year especially, that losing can also bring out the best in ourselves.

This year has been a year of new for me. I graduated high school, got my driver’s license, and got my first actual job. College is hanging over my head like an anvil, and I’m doing my best to prepare for it to fall. Even in my personal life I’ve had to adapt to changes. I’m not the same person I was January first of this year and I think, ultimately, despite the successes, a lot of the positive change has been found in accepting the things in my life that aren’t so nice.

The end of high school was a death slog. Driving still gives me anxiety. My job combines my anxiety over driving with my anxiety over being bad at new things. College is going to uproot all of the relationships I’ve so carefully built over the years, and I’m scared of having to regrow them. It has been a year of loss. I have lost the person and the life I used to have.

Okay, dramatic, I know, but in a way it’s true. And yet… you know what? I’m doing okay. I’ve adapted to the new freedom and the new responsibility and I bet I’ll adapt to college too. And if my prior losses have taught me anything, I’ll come out the other end better for it. And that doesn’t mean it won’t be scary or bad.

If Shadowverse taught me anything, you have to deal with the losses before you can start winning.