Being a Screwup

Dear Rich, what do I do if nothing seems to be working out for me — everything I try just falls apart?

Well dear reader, you’ve come to the right place — I tend to be horrible at everything. I’m not a good son, friend, husband, father, employee, contractor, sole-proprietor, writer, blogger, game-player, citizen, cook, sleeper, pooper, dresser, conversationalist — I mean you name it and I’m not really good at it.

But here’s a secret for you: whatever I find too easy, I also find boring. GASP!!! Yes that’s right dear reader, there’s a direct correlation there — as difficulty rises, so does one’s interest level. Haven’t you heard of playing hard-to-get in relationships? Well you’ve heard of it because it’s an actual thing that happens. We want what’s hard to attain and we don’t care about stuff that’s too easy.

So if you suck at something, that means there’s an opportunity for you to mine that activity i.e. thar’s gold in them thar hills! If you really really suck, yet you still have an odd fascination with an activity — then oh boy! that usually means the mother load!!! Whereas if you suck at something, and feel no frustration whatsoever, then that activity probably isn’t for you.

All good games require repeated play to master. What games do we play where we’re awesome from the start? None! We stop playing and label them boring! Take my friend for example, she’s been cooking her entire life — is cooking boring for her now that she’s such a good cook? Nope, she just ups the ante, she makes more complicated recipes. In addition to that, cooking has too many variable to account for, so oftentimes things just don’t turn out right — cooking has remained a challenge for all these years.

In fact, repeated failure is the indicator that lets you know you’re headed in the right direction. If you’re not repeatedly failing, it either means you just don’t have an interest in the particular activity or it’s too easy and you find it too boring to continue. The things you naturally pursue are the things that require effort. If something is easy to obtain, then by definition you’d already have it — there’s no pursuit necessary. This also means that actual attainment is not very fun — what we truly want is to play with our prey. By delaying attainment, we can savor the feeling of anticipation, a feeling that can endure much longer than the feeling of achievement.

If you hit the bullseye EVERY time, then target-practice isn’t necessary — you’re done — that activity is now closed to you because it’d be predictable and boring. If you truly master something, that’s one less activity that can keep you busy. Busyness comes from our inability to do something perfectly — so thank goodness we suck at so much — thank goodness we never feel as though we’re proficient. We never attain perfection because we wouldn’t want to.

So dear reader, your problem isn’t that you’re a screwup — you’re supposed to be a screwup — that’s the only way you can ultimately enjoy an activity. Your problem is your perspective and your lack of appreciation for what the world is providing you.

Bonus Section

Consider this: the only enemy of an all-knowing and all-powerful being is what? Boredom. And how do you stave off boredom? By engaging in stuff that’s kinda hard to do, stuff that takes time and effort to accomplish. But if you’re all-knowing and all-powerful, everything is quick and easy to accomplish — so you have to put constraints on yourself to limit your abilities — then you have to trick yourself into forgetting the limitations are there. Essentially you have to immerse yourself into the game so much that you actually think you’re the pixelated character and full of foibles. And in this way, an all-knowing and all-powerful entity can finally have fun.

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Losing is Fun

When you play a video-game, you typically want to perform well and win. But the funny thing is, that if you performed well and won EVERY time, the desire to play that video-game would diminish quickly. In other words, you love intermittent reward. You don’t want to be a pure force of dominance, you want to have your ass handed to you time and time again.

Like in everyday life, you don’t want the person that’s too easy to please — you prefer ’em hard to get. You want to work at it, chip away until you’ve won them over. You don’t want everything handed to you, you want to apply your abilities and expend effort. You say you don’t, you say you want everything easy, but you’re full of sh*t obviously.

So here’s the deal: if life didn’t hand you your ass every now and again, you’d complain about how boring everything is — that’s a fact. What interesting narrative do you know of where the main character isn’t challenged in some way? There’s always something to stir the pot, always an issue to be resolved.

Think about it, you’ve been going around bad-mouthing life for giving you a hard-time when it was only obeying your wishes. Of course life would give you all the goodies you desire, but you don’t want that, do you. Instantaneous attainment is boring, there’s no point. You want that slow anticipation-filled storyline with all the ups and downs.

Video-games, books, movies — these are nothing without obstacles to overcome. Appreciate these barriers — they’re the very thing that makes life fun. The wrong thing to do is see them as ruining your experience — THEY ARE THE EXPERIENCE. If you were to personally design a game or write a book, of course you’d introduce obstructions and problems and setbacks into the narrative.

Listen, it’s easy. When an obstacle comes, deal with it — that’s what it’s there for — as an opportunity to do something different. Don’t complain about the break in routine. If your life went along without variance you’d be crying about how monotonous it is. You NEED constant stimulation in the form of tests and challenges.

Now get in there, and show ’em what you’ve got!!