Mirror Mirror - 2020


Avoiding Lockdown Guilt and Exploring New Things

By Jennifer Allen

I've written before about taking the time to pause and appreciate small moments in life whenever you can. It's one of the things we can do to break up the constant monotony we as human beings tend to deal with on a daily basis. Some would say that the current stages of COVID lockdowns have made this concept even more challenging, but I say that this is exactly the opposite.

In general I tend to go through phases where sometimes I want social interaction and other times I don't. Call it being an extroverted introvert, if you will. It's part of being a Libra as we tend to want balance in all things including our mental and social capabilities. With the current state of the world, we're forced to be more introverted than usual, and some people are still having a hard time coping with it even now.

I've observed the situation to be a blessing in disguise. Many of us have had to deal with limited interaction with the populace at large, but at the same time have also had to spend more time at home with immediate family and close friends. As much as the world has their heads semi-permanently skewed downwards to read their phones (even with others sitting right next to them) it's nice to have a reason to put the phone down and actually talk to another person face to face. This may actually help the younger generation to not be constantly “plugged in" and appreciate what life has to offer all that much more.

But, as I just previously mentioned, I also go through bouts of introvert-itus and sometimes social interaction just isn't my thing. The lockdown has made me much more open to being “plugged in", but I also am quite self-aware on when to stop. I've been watching more YouTube, Netflix, and Disney+ as well as digging into my video game library to enjoy some stories that I had previously not had time for.

As I always enjoy a good story, all of the games I tend to choose also create meaningful experiences through immersive worlds and absorbing narratives. I've embraced the inner gamer that I already am, but with much more focus. Sadly, there's still a plethora of negative headlines about gaming out there… especially as far as girl gamers are concerned. To be fair, anything can become an addiction, including video games. I guess I'm one of the lucky ones who have coached myself to know when the story needs to be paused, and real life must continue on.

To further understand why I use video games for entertainment, you only need to think about a concept known as the Self-Determination Theory. This theory states that humans have three psychological needs: autonomy, competence, and relatedness. We like having the capability to make choices and pursue goals while also being capable of solving problems, and then sharing those goals and resolutions with others.

The story-driven games that I play have these three needs in abundance, and the ones I'm currently playing have helped not only to keep me motivated during these rough times, but also help in stimulating both my consciousness and emotions. Watching a cutscene (gameplay scenes with no direct interaction but instead the characters propel the story like within a movie) can motivate specific emotions through the perfect combination of animation, voice acting, and music. I've caught myself in one of my usual “smiley crying" moments if that particular scene makes an incredible impact.

Later I go to YouTube to watch videos of others who have played the same games and shared their experiences. Often they are video essays within said game that involve narrative choices that I tend not to pursue. The camaraderie shared between the video author, the commenters, and myself is a way to accomplish the relatedness that the Self-Determination Theory seeks to prove.

Finding such things that brought me so much delight and comfort in an otherwise negative situation helped me to realize the value that these little additions add to my life. I have been losing myself in the games I love, the videos that make me both laugh and cry, and strange yet beautiful new music I've managed to discover.

We all have our own ways to deal with the lockdown, but whatever you choose as your coping mechanisms… don't forget to try something new and appreciate that discovery to its fullest. This journey of self-discovery may not be something you've planned to embark on during lockdown, but it can also teach us all to be ashamed of any endeavor you seek out. The simple act of having fun has become more crucial than ever.

The lockdown has taught me to stop questioning and start enjoying… and maybe this fact may help us all in feeling a little more mentally and emotionally sane in the long run.

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Jennifer Allen works at Saathee and is also a Podcaster, Blogger, Photographer, Graphic Artist, Gamer, Martial Arts Practitioner, and all around Pop Culture Geek.