/end Survival Mode

You may remember the break-up letter I wrote to Procrastination a month ago. It was the beginning of a journey I set for myself.

A journey back to myself.

I knew I had stepped out of my own shoes, trading my social demeanor for the comfort of my own company. What I hadn’t realized is how many other defense mechanisms were attached to this displacement. That hit me last week.

Anyone who’s been hanging out on my social media channels or on this blog knows that the last few years have been challenging. Burnout, bad break-up with the job that caused the burnout, another job that fell through, a relocation to Germany that didn’t pan out, and finally, another relocation to Melbourne with my fingers crossed. At some point, my life became about reaching the next milestone in the hope that it would bring me some stable ground to rebuild from. And then, without me noticing, my mindset shifted to cut out the second half of that sentence –the goal behind my actions!– as I slowly folded onto myself.

Just reach the next milestone. Make it over the next hill. Survival mode for my mental health.

Don’t get me wrong; there were some good times in the past few years. Good people, good experiences, good memories. The people I met most likely saw me as the upbeat, creative, social, driven person that I am, not knowing that whatever they saw was somewhat dimmed. I don’t have any regrets, and this isn’t a big “boohoo! my life is full of first world problems” rant. Overall, I was happy, in part because human beings can adapt to everything.

But last week, the initiatives I’ve been taking to come back to myself all made a significant, surprising jump forward. The momentum jolted me, and I followed the current to the soul searching it triggered.

Like a smoker, I’d been inhaling toxins and grown accustomed to how they limit my breadth –pun intended. I’d disengaged from the events of my life. I’d stopped looking for a home so that the next failure wouldn’t hurt. I’d stopped relying on others because distance or constant change limited my access to reliable others. I’d stopped letting my passions light me up because I had no energy for them –never mind how much energy I get from them.

I didn’t notice how shallow my respiration had become until last week forced a deep breath into my chest.

And in the grand scheme of things, my life has been easy. Yet, I strayed from my identity and happiness. I can’t help but reflect on the toll much more significant hardships must take.

So where am I now?

My job is great. My coworkers welcomed me from day 1. They’ve not only allowed me to take any initiative I feel like taking; they’re supporting me and enabling me to do more. I’ve been fired from other companies for having the attitude that’s celebrated here. *mind blown* Last week, I was interviewed about my job for a local magazine and got the stamp of approval on 3 sessions for GCAP, a local game conference. Hell, they put my face on the landing page! *mind blown combo*

The friends I’m making are some of the best I’ll ever have. You may think it’s a bit early to make that assessment –and you’d be right! On the other hand, the connections are there. Open, strong, bound to grow. Last week, I trusted one of said friends enough to share some pretty sensitive stories. While I’ve always been doing that with some of my Quebec friends, I hadn’t felt comfortable sharing my weaknesses with someone in the city as me since I started traveling.

As for my creativity, it’s burning bright again. I’m discussing a potential band project with a friend, and getting back in touch with my musical side is having a ripple effect in my writing (from lyrics to poetry to my novel projects.) Last week, sitting down to edit Oil and Boiling Water didn’t feel like I was going through the motion; it made me smile.

My next step is to blog again and re-establish some of the connections I’ve allowed to die. I’ll be writing here more regularly (maybe not back to 5 days a week just yet, but we’ll see) and I’ll be relaunching Games’ Bustles so that the people who enjoy my lecture and two panels at GCAP have a place to read more of my thoughts on our industry.

I can belong here. I can make a home. I can breathe. I just need to allow myself –to enable myself– to do these things.

/end Survival Mode

What about you? How deep do you breathe? Are you standing in your own way?

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About Aheïla

Somewhere in Quebec City, Aheïla works as a Game Design Director by day and writes by night. Known for her blue hair, unyielding dynamism and tasty cooking (quails, anyone?), she’s convinced “prose is the new crack”. She satisfies her addiction daily on The Writeaholic’s Blog and weekly on Games' Bustles View all posts by Aheïla

8 responses to “/end Survival Mode

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