When I was a first grader, I already learned how to play video games. We are not rich and we don’t own a family computer — a game console that the people within my age only might know.

In my country, the Philippines, the only sign that a child like me would consider you are in a wealthy family is when you own a game console. Specifically, I considered those who owned a family computer. I was also envious of kids who had Nintendo Gameboy, the fulfillment of all my childhood dreams.

Photo Credit: flickr via Sam Howsit cc

Photo Credit: Sam Howsit via Flickr cc

I Lived in a Virtual World

As a first grader who doesn’t have his own game console, I have to find a way to please my appetite for virtual games. I rent instead, just like in today’s internet cafe. Sometimes, I go to the arcade and just was there the whole day staring at the people playing in their own world — the virtual reality. For a seven-year-old kid with no money, that’s my only world.

That part of my past was quite shameful, but not unique. I know a lot of folks who still not got freed from this digitized world. Or rather computer game addiction. Even years after I graduated and currently employed, I was still addicted to online games.

By the way, I’m not against video games. I still love how sometimes I get to enjoy people together playing apps like Plants Versus Zombies and 2048. Playing games with moderation can improve our creativity. But, as we know, too much can kill us.

Even something as safe as water could kill. Use wisely, you stay alive. But, too much of it can drown you.

So how I breathe again from drowning?

Every time I played video games (online games), I am in my own world. Leveling-up is the only goal of my life. Besides from the money I spent for renting a PC, I also bought virtual items just to improve my virtual characters.

I’m into playing madness since I was seven. I just stopped if I’m not mistaken more than two years ago. Yes, just recently. Almost twenty years of living in a virtual world. To tell you honestly, a week ago, I got so addicted to Zombie Tsunami, I have to force myself to delete it on my tablet. Just like in any kinds of addiction, the healing has been slow. We must also be aware of our vulnerabilities. No matter how successful we are in this battle, we are bound to fall anytime. Be on guard all the time.

What’s so good in a virtual world? No personal rejection. No personal communication except chatting with other players. I’ll just sit in front of the computer screen for hours and I’ll not be bothered for the time wasted.

I found a way to escape reality.

Virtual reality is my reality. After gaming, I felt deeply alone and wasted. So I have to play again to fill that vacuum in my self-worth, then get wasted again. I was in limbo.

I was not in touch with reality. I was quietly insane. I don’t know what’s missing. I just know there’s something missing. I missed something terribly.

New-Found Escape

I don’t want to make a depressing story. So just like fairy tales, I also got a happy ending. Actually, I’m now happy, but that’s not the end. I’m experiencing God’s grace now, and I’m still more years to go. I’m now typing my own reality. Not virtually anymore. Yes, you’re reading this blog post somewhere in another virtual reality called cyberspace. What I mean was I’m living a life outside the vicious cycle of my addiction.

After college graduation, I’m still addicted to online games. Thankfully, my work helped me divert some of my attentions. I also tried some things like selling multivitamins (you may laugh when you see how thin I am and yet you know), helped my mother in selling umbrellas, sold fruit salad to workmates once, studied internet marketing, became a virtual assistant, did real estate, taught part-time to college students and other awesome craziness that I can’t remember now.

I promised to myself, that though I’m extremely fearful and have no idea what I want to do with my life, I will refuse to be in mediocrity. I’ve been that kid almost all of my life.

So now, I’m not rich. But, where am I now? I found God in my Catholic community and claiming the right to be a passionate writer. Only time can tell. This is now my new-found escape from mediocrity to a meaningful life.

Maturity and Responsibility

I failed in almost all those crazy things. It seems I am living an epic-fail life. But, the lessons are much more valuable than my screw ups. I took responsibility for my life and I reap maturity.

For me, being mature is being selfless. Be joyful in serving. I may sound cliché, but if you noticed the happiest people on the planet were not the ones with the best things in life. They are the one who serves the most. I believe though that having illegitimate intention in your service will make you miserable in time.

Have a heart of a servant. Be authentic.

The only way to gain maturity is to take responsibility. I know this is a hell of a lot of challenges and difficulties. We should rather feel the pain (joy) of service rather than the pain of regret.

Life’s Greatest Days

“There are two great days in a person’s life – the day we are born and the day we discover why.” – William Barclay

Life-changing quote if you ask me. Maybe the reason why we are born has something to do with service.

I’m a newbie in writing. Actually, I’m a newbie in life. I got so much to learn.

I didn’t talk much about writing with my parents and friends. Well, I did sheepishly and got some good response. What I mean is I didn’t talk about writing repeatedly to the same person. I’m at the stage of taking responsibility by writing and writing and improving and improving. Then trust that I will reap maturity in time.

We must pursue service. We may not gain anything tangible. As long as this will answer the question of your heart as for why you are born, then do it by all means.

One of the reasons why I write is this.