I’ll own up to the fact that my adolescence was dominated by an obsession with The Sims. Creating families that had some dramatic, soap opera plot line (the maid was almost always involved), passionately pursuing a Sim’s dream to become a “five star chef”/“star news anchor”/“international super spy,” using cheat codes to create 50,000 simoleons out of the blue in order to manifest a Sim’s dream home with an irrationally large swimming pool… it was great! I was addicted to creating the craziest, weirdest experiences for these bizarre little virtual humans with green diamonds floating over their heads. My parents never understood.
But more than that, The Sims had a certain allure to it that I only realized after now looking back at my lack of teenage social life— which was probably why I enjoyed playing it so much.
Living vicariously through Sims characters is an attempt for us to feel the freedom that they do. Sims live their best lives because it’s all just a game— they have nothing to lose and only places to go and people to meet. (Well, you start to run into problems when their energy plummets and they pass out in the middle of a park, but that’s a different story.) Otherwise, we let them experiment with life and do all the things we’d be scared to even consider.
But what we don’t realize is that we can live just as unapologetically as they can.
Think about your life like it’s a video game— the best video game in the world! All of these things around you have already been set up for you to enjoy, and you can roam and frolic as much as you want. You can walk through any doors you want and see what’s on the other side. There are interesting people everywhere you look, and you can literally just go right up to them. And with all of these interactions with new places and people, you never know what will happen. The possibilities are endless.
But of course, it’s not quite that simple. Right when things can get interesting, our old nemesis, Fear, steps in and starts taking some hard jabs. It dropkicks us with a “Stop!” Hurls a fireball of “You can’t do this!” Knocks the wind out of us with a “You’re not ready!”
However, you forget that you have an even more powerful attack than any of those. In fact, you created Fear yourself, and just as quickly as he makes his annoying appearance, you can shut him down with an annihilating knock-out of “You don’t have a say here — I do!”
And after all, Fear isn’t even fun to hang out with anyway. He’s actually pretty boring. All he does is make predictable, mundane decisions that result in, well, nothingness. I definitely wouldn’t want to have a video game sesh with him.
What you need to do is break-up with him and get your head in the game. You’re the player of this game called Life, and you call the shots. You get to invent your own adventures.
Play on a challenging level, but not one that’s so impossible that the dragon keeps incinerating you. If you find an attack that works, keep using it. If you come across a fancy new move, try that out too. The good thing is that even if it doesn’t work, the game isn’t over. Just click try again. And when something goes wrong, just call it a plot twist. Because nothing is perfect, and it never will be, and that’s not even the goal. The beauty is just that we’re here, rolling with everything that we encounter.
So just like Mario (who is basically #goals when it comes to video game characters), jump into those green chutes and maybe you’ll find some coins. Go into that cave because, well, it looks cool. And ask Peach out on that date because you know you want to.
Because, hey, it’s all just a game.