Side Quest Extra #5 - Social Encounters of the Awkward Kind

Side Quest Extra #5 - Social Encounters of the Awkward Kind

There's no need for the above photo. Absolutely no need. Other than the fact that it made me laugh so much, I thought I'd share it with you. I was meant to be the star of a Broadway musical, obviously. Just look at me! I am the pure embodiment of a cat.

Anyway. I've been trying to push myself socially, with mixed results. I forced myself to go along to an indie gaming event recently, and I came to two conclusions:

  • Indie games are where it's at
  • I am not cut out for networking

I would like to stress how important that second point is. I cannot. Do. Networking. I figured if I threw myself into the deep end and went to an event without knowing anyone, maybe it would force me to magically transform into someone confident.

Nope! That is not what happened. I hovered around at the edges of things, feeling awkward, I tried out some games, complimented some devs, smiled at a few people, fought off a panic attack, and left. That's it.

And embarrassingly, I was so nervous and acutely aware there was a queue forming behind me for each game I tried out, that I kept making mistakes. In fact, I was playing a nice little puzzle platformer and I got stuck in the scenery and the dev actually said, 'Wow, I've never seen that happen before.'


The thing you should know is that I am, and have always been, terribly shy. I was shy in my school years, and then I became a little bit more cocky and arrogant as a teenager, and then I got into a bad place and my self-esteem was decimated. When I met Chris, I was so socially anxious that I literally used him as a human shield. Even a few years into our relationship, I'd spend parties basically glued to him, hoping that I would just ease into things.

So even attending the event in the first place was a great big huge deal for me. I had some supportive messages along those lines from people who are getting to know me well, which meant a lot. They knew how much it cost me just to walk into that building. Right up until the last minute, I was tempted to turn on my heel and just walk away again. But I didn't! I went in there and I tried. And I wish I could be as socially advanced and capable as everyone else, but frankly, I'm not. I'm working with what I've got here, which isn't much.

I found a journal prompt the other day that simply said: 'What would you do if you were ten times more confident than you are now?'

And I wrote a two-page soliloquy in response. What would I do if I was ten times more confident than I am now? I'd do it all. I'd take my kids to more places, I'd walk into buildings full of strange people without feeling like I'm going to throw up, I'd feel strong and powerful in my own body, I'd write a book, I'd learn guitar, I'd write that text adventure game I've been thinking about for years, I'd wear the clothes I want to wear even if people look at me weird, I'd take the initiative, I'd make new friends, I'd go to the '90s dance nights and the jazz bars and the shows I want to go to, I'd respect myself more, I'd own my decisions, I'd be able to network, I'd build my career, I'd earn more money, I'd be able to move us to a bigger house, I'd get a cat! Or a dog! Or both! I'd advocate for others. I'd advocate for myself. I'd stop caring about the male gaze. I'd do more things just for me. I'd write shitty songs and sing terrible karaoke and do tons of silly projects. I'd fail, and I'd laugh at myself in the process. I'd love people more freely. I'd value myself more.

What would I do if I was ten times more confident than I am now? Everything. I'd do everything.

I don't recommend asking yourself this question if you're in a vulnerable emotional state because it will destroy you. I felt deeply, horribly sad after I wrote all this down. It has become clear to me that there is something even more valuable than connections, an inheritance, or wealthy parents to fall back on. It's confidence. Confidence is the key to almost everything. And I am just not where I need to be.

I've ordered this book from the library:

Will it fix me? Probably not. To a certain extent, I am who I am, and I can't change my whole personality. I've always been a bit flip-floppy. One day I'll feel like Elle Woods. I take on everything with a 'What, like it's hard?' kind of attitude. I'll feel strong, sexy, and confident. And then the next day, I can feel like absolute shit. Like a little mouse woman, the kind of girl that needs to hide behind her boyfriend at parties. I'm not sure what I can realistically do about that other than maybe paying to have someone hypnotise me or something.

But perhaps there's some work that needs to be done when it comes to my self-esteem. I just need to believe in myself a bit more. This is Side Quest Extra, which means that you've paid to read these posts (thank you so much). I think it's safe to assume that you either like me or you like my writing, and you can relate to what I say. So I can be a bit more candid with you. And the truth is I can be really messy and difficult and really fucking hard on myself. I need to make some changes. I need to make myself stronger, more resilient, less afraid that I'm just not good enough.

I keep thinking about that little girl in the photograph, the one in full cat mode. I keep wondering about when the switch happened; at what point did I become so hard on myself? Was it always there? Is nervousness an inherent trait? It all comes back to the nature vs. nurture debate, I suppose.

I'm still feeling positive. I think we can make changes. I think we can become more confident, while still honouring our personalities, while still holding our quiet selves in the same regard we hold 'the confident people'. Unfortunately, for me, this is going to involve making myself feel purposefully uncomfortable from time to time.

I'll keep trying. I'll keep you updated. And if the book does fix me, I'll report back.

Anyway, some other stuff:

I've been playing Lorelei and the Laser Eyes almost exclusively. I am loving it, although it occasionally really frustrates me. I'll review it when we're done.

The book I'm currently reading is Girlhood by Melissa Febos. It's a startling, raw collection of essays about what it means to be female. And it's the kind of powerful writing about womanhood that I'm really digging at the moment. I think this kind of writing is going to directly influence that text adventure game I mentioned earlier.

I'm also experimenting on TikTok! I said I'd post at least twice a day for the next few weeks just to see what happens. So far, there have been mixed results. I'm not really sure what I'm doing it for really. Just to try it, I guess. It still makes me feel tremendously old, but I'm hoping I'll settle into a little groove on there soon.

Hope you're all well. I'll see you on Sunday for my regular post! It's also a bit of a life-related post rather than specifically about gaming and pop culture, but after that I'll resume posting nerdy stuff as normal.