I tried writing this once already but my computer crashed so I lost all my writing.
Growing up, I lived a poor lifestyle, despite growing up in a middle class family. My family is very frugal, so everything I’ve ever owned growing up was a hand me down. I have never owned an actual smartphone until 2013, despite the first iphone being released in 2007.
Not only that, my family is very traditional. My bedroom walls were never furnished because it was something I was not allowed to do. This pretty much went all the way until I left to go to college.
For me, my life in my K-12 years has been really different than anyone else I’ve known. I lived in a tropical region where temperatures exceed past 100*F at times. In those days, I would sleep upstairs without any air conditioning most times for several years of my life. It felt like I lived in a hut in some backwaters country for at least 5 years.
I also worked starting at the age of 13. I drove forklifts before I drove my first car. But the first car I’ve owned was my family’s car and they liked to splurge on nice vehicles though, so it was a Mercedes Benz.
People would always treat me differently. Since I drove a nice car the automatic assumption was that I was that rich kid, or that I was spoiled. I hated this so much because I bought everything with my own hard earned money growing up. My own video games came from allowance in working on the weekends doing pointless gardening work, and the summers I had to work. I never really got along with many people because of the stigmas that always felt forced on me. My life has always been dull – its always been one of work and duty before everything else.
Because of this I could not relate to many people in my age group growing up. I could not relate to stupid issues like “I wish I got the collectors edition of X game” when I just ****ed something up something expensive at work and got berated for it. I couldn’t relate to all the fun weekends people had while I worked on-call every sunday.
It wasn’t typical things like mowing the lawn, no it was cleaning rocks of all things, uprooting tree roots, planting grass, laying alot of heavy brick, releveling landscape via digging, picking up thorny branches, cutting trees etc hard physical landscaping work in blazing hot weather, all done inefficiently too. The weeks after I would have to undo all the work because it was done wrong. I had to do this at least a dozen times, because someone wasn’t able to do proper research. Imagine having to move a box, from point A to point B, repeat that process a thousand times. Nothing got accomplished and I hated my life. I had to be on-call every sunday from middleschool to highschool, and it was awful. As a result, I started developing an obsession with automation.
I have never even been to anyones house in my old neighborhood. I was too socially awkward growing up.
I didn’t have anywhere to vent at all. Councilors were a joke and useless at best at school, they couldn’t understand the issues I dealt with everyday. I was an anomaly so I just kept my mouth shut. My family has dominant personalities. Often times I was told that I was flat out wrong about how to do XYZ things, or get blamed for mother nature. I learned how to effectively research and document things to prove my points, but I was given the logical fallacies of “you’re too young to understand” or “you’re too inexperienced”.
No one wanted to listen to my problems at all. My dad would come home stressed all the time from work, and tell me how hard it is to run a business to what seemed like the thousandth time and it would drive me mentally insane. I learned how to predict what was going to be said based certain vocal cues and patterns, so I could flatout ignore it. I didn’t own an ipod or music player, I lived a poor lifestyle. I now have terrible listening skills and everyone tells me so. I can’t recount musical lyrics even if my life depended on it. I just wished someone would listen to things from my perspective and really help me out when I needed it the most. It never happened.
School wasn’t any better either. I was always the last one to be picked during kickball because I would fuck everything up with a flyball. I couldn’t throw or catch anything, I was in bad physical shape because I just never got out all that often. As a result I got picked on a lot. Sometimes it was death threats at PE, other times I would get pants’d, and on another occassion getting sexually harassed by a student for a month before I decided to teach him a lesson. I got suspended though, but I learned to stand up for myself.
Instead I spent a lot of my life playing MMOs and video games instead. No one cared who and where you came from, and it was really appealing to me. I could do anything I wanted, explore as far as I could go, and there would be nothing holding me back.
When I watched the movie ReadyPlayerOne, a lot of those plotlines actually reminds me of things I experienced in my own life, as ironic as that might sound. I have many untold stories, such as when I crashed the entire gaming MMO economy through an exploit I’ve found, how I used to cheat by modifying my own custom made maps in starcraft in elementary school, and how I used to run my own virtual business(es) , by posting to forums and made real money as a result. Or how I used to write gaming guides read by hundreds of thousands under my pseudonym (and translate in many languages), or how I used to actually be a famous player in a very popular MMO even today. Or how I also partially manage one of the largest online art collaborations ever done in history. Or how I became the richest person in a game of 5million + players, and the hundreds of hours I took to get there. Or how I used to have 5000 loyal followers who treated me like a godfather.
There’s more stories to be told, but I’ll leave it at that. My point is I lived a double life from K-12 and even into college and that’s how I got by. Video games were my form of escapism to keep my sanity in check. I don’t play video games anymore, it just has no appeal to me and only serves to dull the memorable moments I had.
The thing is, nobody I knew in real life would understand these things. I had always kept it a secret from anyone I knew. Its not that I wanted to – I really wanted to talk about these things – but this was still the golden age of the internet where things were not accepted yet. I remember when dial up first came around, how if someone picks up our house phone – it’d kill off our game. These days things are taken for granted, but things were not always so simple
Because of these secrets I kept, it affected me negatively. When I went to college, it felt like the training wheels just fell off. I had no idea what I truly wanted to do in my life, I just picked a semi interesting engineering degree. I have never really had a mentor growing up, because for one a mentor needs to understand you truly as a person. I never had such a thing. Nobody understood me and it was incredibly painful how much this has hurt me. I could not talk to counsellors about these things, because for one its too difficult to relate to. Its like asking a homeless person to relate to the problems of a CEO (I couldn’t think of a better example). These things just don’t happen.
I started developing psychological issues from high school to college. It stemmed from having never talking about any of the prideful things I did in MMOs growing up. I learned what essentially felt like business degree before even going to college. I already had been working for 5+ years every summer and many weekends before going into college. Also because I grew up learning how a virtual economy worked from the get-go for 4 years, proved I could be the best if I wanted too, taught economics & entreprenuership to guildmates in high school. I had inexplicable gaps of experience. On paper, it said I had no experience in anything. In reality I knew it was different. As a result, I developed superiority complex – where you think your better than everyone else.
I only realize this after ostracizising everywhere that was close to me, and took a good deep look at myself. Only after getting fired from my resident assistant summer job and losing out on 3 internships due to a dual citizenship legal complications. I was extremely sick as well, more sick than I had ever been in 5 years. Not only that, I still had to show up everyday for a whole week despite being fired. It was humiliating getting ignored and stared down by 50+ people everyday. I had severe depression, I was at an all low mentally and physically. The pain struck deep to me and I did think about suicide at this point. But I have always held still to the confidence in myself – by getting inspired what I did in the past. For me, what has always pushed me was myself.
On my senior year at university, everyone would talk about all their great internships they had. Some would get in through family connections, I had no such thing. This bit deep to me, because despite my best efforts, I failed hard. I realized that you can give your best effort and still be a failure, because success is also dependent on luck too.
I doubled down instead. I ended up doing two senior projects instead of one – my dissertation on shape memory alloys, and a corporate project with a fertilizing company. All while building a community of 5000+ gamers from scratch in my spare time during the same year. I didn’t sleep that much senior year.
When I graduated things were not as expected. I still had psychological issues deep down rooted from issues I had growing up as a kid. I had pushed it off for the longest time and still I had not met a single person like me in college, despite there being 30,000 people+. I ended up working in a field unrelated to my industry. Partially because I just could not handle interviews that well.
Interviewing was something that I could never do. When someone would say “What are you most proud of?”, my first thought process is how , in the community of 5000 people I created, one comment during senior year of college changed my perspective on life. He said he was grateful for the videos I put out, because it helped him train his motor skills for real life/death situations at work as a surgeon. This was perhaps one of the few times I have ever been truely appreciated in my life for the work I did – and it was humbling. Not only that, it was just so polarizing. Video games and surgery training seemed just so different, everyone called me a flat out liar. Doesn’t matter, it taught me a valuable lesson in life. That there is value in everything, no matter how small it may seem.
I used to get dozens of stupid offers for gaming networks like TGN (one of the largest network at the time), but I only did these things for fun, as a way to vent off the problems I had in school. I got dozens of comments everyday saying “make m0ar videos plz” and dozens of meaningless things that amounted to absolutely nothing. But that one single surgeon comment changed me. It made me appreciate things in life, and to focus only on things that mattered – building things people actually cared about using.
Because this was my interview answer, it turned off a lot of people. I could not explain this rich history to someone who has never played a video game in their life. Theres a deep rich history in video games that many do not see. Leaders are born learning how to run guilds the hard way, bankers are made by learning how to run EvE corporations. But these things are not taken seriously.
I had a canned answer about how I used to be a president of an organization with 10 people under me. Or how I used to manage science fairs. But these things, they were just meaningless to me, a far cry from other things I had done. Because for the accomplishments I took pride in – I did literally everything. I created the community from scratch. I built XYZ and made an impact on someones life. I had tried to give these lesser answers instead – but I just could not, it felt like lying to myself.
At this point in time, my psychological issues were still there, I still had never talked to anyone about it. A few years back, I decided I needed to get help to move past this point in my life. Because of some social stigmas at the time, I could not see a trained psychologist.
I ended up doing something stupid instead. I once heard stories about lawyers who represented themselves in a court case and won. I thought that this wouldn’t be so far fetched that you could do your own therapy on yourself. There was some research at that time indicating that some neuroscientists or psychologists claim this was possible, but nothing really concrete.
I decided to try it out. I started getting addicted to using reddit just because of how many people’s perspectives I could learn from. Things that I missed out on growing up, that I really didn’t appreciate for its true face value.
I started posting something innocent like how I was going to write a book about some software I was using. But I realized that I kept iterating on older ideas I had, and because my ideas were on paper, it felt like they were speaking out to me. That I could talk back to those ideas. It sounds weird, but its not that much different from how fantasy authors like stephen king work. Its how they build these complex insane worlds that the average user cannot seem to comprehend how they are created.
Because of this, I decided to try it out. I would journal things, and because they were on reddit – and that I treated reddit like a public forum – it felt like I was having a conversation with someone. When in retrospect it was really just me talking to myself.
I started digging deep into my mind this way. Learning about why I do things the way I did. I would research things in DSM, the psychology manual, read about neuroscience and psychology from books like Richards “Psychology in Plain English” books (which I had read prior to doing this).
I would go back and forth everyday, writing an average of 100 WPM, writing upwards of up to 50,000 words a day. More than most writers. I actually wrote so much that I had to go to the doctor for UTS, ulnar tunnel syndrome, because my pinky and ring finger would get so numb. I would write things about research I’ve done, things about my past, things I felt, I just let it all out on a public forum and just replied back to myself every time.
It felt liberating. I started to explore psychology theories and actually starting writing my own theories on how the brain functions on a psychological level. I wrote about all the gaming stories I’ve never told to anyone – and at times reach out to old gaming buddies who I hadn’t spoken to in years. Luckily some of the forums survived so I could find this out.
I started to understand myself, and why I did certain things the way I did. How, I was always on edge and never trusted anyone because that’s just how I did things growing up. How I used to have to dual personalities growing up, because if I did not I would’ve probably gone insane in my situation. How I had many regrets in my childhood not becoming friends with people I should have. How I burned relationships down the road due to my insecurities. How I never told anyone my deepest darkest secrets because I didn’t want to give anyone the burden of that knowledge. How I started developing superiority complex as a result of things I did going from highschool to college.
I started accepting myself, truly as who I was, and what I stood for. For me, what has helped me moved on was accepting that I did struggle a lot in life, that I did only have 1 mentor my entire life (my corporate project mentor in senior year). I only thought of him as a mentor since he called me out on my bullshit. Also, that I also did hurt a lot of people who I shouldn’t have, and I was an asshole most of my life. Its never occured to me until I looked so deep down the rabbithole that I found I was just staring at myself.
I ended up deleting everything because I didn’t feel comfortable with that information online. I have a copy of it, it ended up being 500,000 words, I only know this because I ran it through a word count checker.
I still had not told a soul about it though. Its just at this point in time, I’ve just accepted that no one truthfully needs to know. As long as I accept it for what it is, I can move on with my life, doing things that matter. For one, the surgeon’s comment was impactful to me and still stands today in shaping me in who I am today. It seems so stupid and silly that an internet comment had a bigger impact on me than all the school counselors I’ve ever dealt with, but its true.
Only recently, I started going to tech meetups. I hadn’t been sitting on my ass all these years – I’ve been wanting to be the change that I truthfully want to be. Most people don’t know this about me – but I also used to struggle on my physical looks as well.
I used to be both fat and skinny at the same time. One time, someone called me an anime character. That hurt really deep, because it was said so casually, that it ended up being the worst insult anyone could possibly give. I got called “Lego Boy” as well. To put things in perspective, I had ~9″ biceps and ~27″ diameter legs.
I just could not relate to people who stated they had body image issues. The only people I could relate to were people with rare muscular atrophy disorders.
I ended up getting in shape over the past couple years though. The breaking point was when I couldn’t do a girly pushup. There’s many more struggles that I faced growing up, I also have a crippling hidden disability I deal with daily. That is another whole seperate post all together and I do not intend on sharing it.
Onto the point though. I started going to my local tech meetups. By some miraculous reason, I ended up meeting someone who also has had similar yet different experiences, but could truthfully appreciate the person I am deep down.
The chances of that are almost impossible. I could not think of anyone who would remotely have anything similar to what I experienced growing up. If there was such a person, there might be 1 in a million and I probably would never now about them, even in this day and age of the internet.
But it happened. I don’t know how, I don’t know why, but it did. It feels like the stars aligned.
It feels good to finally talk about things I have never told anyone before, and for that person to actually understand, because they have gone through similar things. For the first time in my life – it felt like I was talking to a long lost twin I never knew.
So yeah that’s the story of my life sort of.
All I’ve ever wanted was a normal life and to be understood