It's official: I'm ruined.
Really. All I do is spend my time playing video games, eating cheapie cereal straight out of the box in a darkened room. The only source of light is my computer screen, and the only thing I do anymore is play MMORPGs. Honestly, what the hell happened to me? Not that long ago, I was full of hope. Now, my nerves are completely shot. I'm gone.
Things didn't get to be this bad. I was always successful in high school. I got 100% in every subject, played three sports at an Olympic level (soccer, volleyball, and track), and not once did I come late, get detention, miss a deadline, or injure myself in sports. I was that student to whom teachers compare those that are normal (as in, "Goddammit, Ursula, why can't you be like Lillian" and "If you were more like Lillian, you wouldn't have these problems"). In all honesty, I remember all the stuff Ursula didn't do: she didn't play sports (she wasn't motivated by competition, not to mention she could barely run), she didn't do any after-school clubs (she was too concerned about finishing her assignments on time or doing what she wanted). Enough about Ursula. This is about how I went from model to mistake.
It first started when I got into college. None of my friends were surprised that I got into the pre-law program at Yale. To them, it was practically a guarantee. Today, I was Lillian, the budding law student. Soon, I'd be Lillian the human rights lawyer. I had it all: work ethic, brains, and looks. But then, Yale happened. Things got far more real than I wanted them to be.
Nobody told me that college wouldn't be like high school. No one told me that you had to self-regulate and stay organized. Nobody said that there would be no checkpoints, nor would assignments have foreseeable due dates. Nor did anyone say the assignments would be extremely hard. I literally had no idea what to expect. Maybe that's why I fell so hard.
It started when I got the stomach flu. It happened way quicker than expected. One minute, I was fine, and the next; I work up glorking all over that place. God was I miserable.
When I was laid up, they interviewed this guy on 60 Minutes. He went on talking about how erasers made us lie to the world that we got it right the first time; that the eraser was the instrument of the devil. In his mind, we were high on the false sense of perfection from an eraser in the same way a person gets high off of the fumes from correction fluid. I'll never forget his poignant yet incoherent speech about how erasers were an illegal drug. At first, I got it. After all, owning up to a mistake is a massive step forward for a small child. Hell, even adults swing back and forth between hiding and admitting that they're wrong. In fact, I felt ashamed of using an eraser to clean up my schoolwork so that it was more presentable for evaluation.
But a few days later, something came over me: once we erase the eraser, where do we stop? More and more people, even schoolchildren, use computers for everyday tasks. What if they suddenly said, "No more delete keys! Delete keys are the lynchpin of the existence of a culture of shame about error!", then what? Try to imagine using the computer without a delete key (more to the point, don't you need a delete key to start the computer? Ctrl-Alt-Del, anyone?). Reality is different. We make minor, reversible mistakes. In the real world, mistakes happen and consequences ensue. And the minor mistake of getting stomach flu was fraught with dramatic, disastrous consequences.
All my life, I've been told that life doesn't happen to you, it happens for you. But these days, everyone and their dog buys into this mass delusion that life happens to you, and we need to have only the good parts of life happen to you. Nothing messy, nothing shocking, and no sadness, trauma, or other miserable shit. Guess what happens? You get these entitled, whiny pieces of shit who can't open a doorknob. They're codependent, and then what you see is what happens on My 600 Pound Life. Either that or they die from playing video games like StarCraft for 62 hours straight. And even worse, I've practically become the guy that died. All because I let the natural consequence of stomach flu happen to me.
Yet, at the time, I never realized this was a mistake. I figured that this was what it was. Every action has consequences, and the consequence for getting stomach flu was that I missed some school. No problem, right? Well, there was a problem. The week I was sick was the week of midterms. By the time I was legitimately feeling better, midterms had been over for nearly a week. If you're going to be absent for any medical reason during midterms, you need to send medical documentation at least eight business days in advance (it really depends on the illness, too. If you're prone to heart attacks, you need to send in medical documents a month in advance. For stomach flu, though, you need to send medical documentation eight business days in advance).
If you're absent for midterms, it's an automatic zero. And I got an automatic zero on everything. Now, my work habits were a disaster, so my grades weren't too good. It doesn't take a genius to figure out that I wound up with a very bad GPA. In fact, it was bad enough that I got suspended. Once my dad found out, he had a heart attack. I'm not sure whether or not he made it; but I got something minor like stomach flu, and it took away everything I knew.
And here I am, in my basement, playing video games. I've been completely ruined. I'm no longer capable. I'm holed up in my basement living off of RedBull, pizza, cereal, and a myriad of other junk foods. I live on in the virtual world, oblivious to all the garbage that's accumulated in my house, in the real world. I barely sleep anymore. I almost never leave the house. Financial things, you say? Don't ask. In fact, I'm surprised that I can still afford my MMORPG habit with no job and no external income.
Most people think that I've devolved into a mere basement-dwelling, hoarding gamer. The reality is worse. I used to be confident, but now, I'm paranoid. I am paranoid that one tiny step in the wrong direction will put my life in bizarre, improbable, but 100% possible peril. My world is now one of bizarre and catastrophic consequences. I can't even talk about my darkest fears because there is a risk, however infinitesimal it might be, that anything I saw will be construed as a threat. As if honesty were a crime. Well, dishonesty should be a crime, because only then can I get my life back on track. As it is, I'm suffering a disastrous consequence from a simple case of stomach flu.
My only lifeline now are my MMORPGs. It shouldn't be this way, though. My electricity was cut off about a month or so after my dad's heart attack (so four months ago). My computer should not be on, nor should I have internet connection. To be honest, I'm not sure if my game is even real anymore. Maybe I'm suffering from computer vision syndrome, but sometimes, my game becomes glitchy. Sometimes, the glitches are simple; things being where they shouldn't. Other times, the glitches are big, like the entire game going to static. Typically, the static will last about three or four minutes, and then we're back to normal. Not this time.
First, the game froze. And it stayed frozen for at least an hour. I got up to turn off my computer and turn it on again, but when I turned the computer off, I felt my knees lock up. I fell to the ground before I could turn the computer back on again. Once I managed to get the computer on again, I noticed something. The room stretched so that the computer was further away from me than normal. And the room didn't stretch slowly, either. It was pushing me and the computer apart. Finally, the computer came back on, but it didn't display the game. In fact, it did nothing but smoke. The smoke poured out of the computer until I all but drowned in it. And it didn't happen gradually. Within eleven seconds, I was enveloped in smoke.
I could feel myself drowning in the smoke, running out of oxygen. I couldn't see anything. The only sensory input I could make out was the sound of my own voice. I wasn't talking, nor was I hearing a recording. I could have sworn I was hearing my own voice talk to me. And it said words that I wouldn't forget:
Do you know what comes next, Lillian? First, you get sick, and that makes you miss schoolwork. Then, you miss tests. Then you fall so far behind, you're stuck. You have no hope, you're trapped. Doomed. And all because of a little thing that happened. That's all it takes, you know. Mistakes happen and consequences ensue. Sometimes, you recover; and sometimes… you don't.
I lay there, immobilized. My heart was racing, and I felt my left arm tingling.
Life can either happen for you or to you. Your life happened to you. When life happens for you, it gives you things. When it happens to you, it takes. Life took and took from you until you had nothing left.
At that moment I realized something. Not only was I having a massive heart attack (complete with throwing up), but that I was indeed, doing nothing. What else was there to do? I literally had nothing left. I had my MMORPGs, but up to a point. As of a few minutes ago, I wasn't even sure that I even had those. Before, I didn't even think it was possible to have, or do, nothing. But now, I know that I am indeed in a state where I am indeed, doing nothing. I'm not doing anything. I'm not standing, sitting, or even breathing. I am truly doing nothing. I feel nothing at all.
When I was younger, I figured that I'd one day do the impossible. Now, I am indeed doing the impossible: doing absolutely nothing because I have absolutely nothing left.
Written by ShepherdMoons