Have you ever seen one of those compilation fail!videos on Facebook or Youtube? They usually involve someone sailing along, doing something super cool and/or gravity-defying until suddenly, the Universe slaps them back to reality. They crash into a wall, or their man-bits get far too intimate with a metal pole, and we, the unassuming viewer, are torn between the urge to laugh at them and the urge to cry with them. We’ll show the video to others, gauge their reactions… Why? Because we know what that feels like. We may not be professional skaters, gravity-defying stuntmen, daredevils. We may be nothing more than ordinary people trying to do our best with the hand we’re dealt, but we all know what it feels like when things don’t go right. We all know the sting of that fall from grace, even if it doesn’t always necessarily come with a mouthful of concrete. We know failure because we as human beings are inherently flawed. When we succeed, it feels great. When we fail? Well, it may not be a metal bar to the man-bits, but we certainly understand that pain of defeat.
And the thing is… Second Life is no different. At all. It allows us to try new things, to be new things… to meet amazing new people. But we’re still not going to be that perfect vision of ourselves that we have in our head. We’re not going to succeed in everything we do. We’re not necessarily going to be the most popular person in the room. We may even find that SL for us mirrors RL in that uncomfortable way.
Except, of course, for some notable differences.
SL gives us endless opportunity to try again. We can reinvent everything from the gender and species of our avatar to the planet we live on. There’s thousands upon thousands of little things that we can do every day to essentially re-invent ourselves and the world around us. And yet, we forget that. We forget that, and we sometimes forget that there’s a little X in the corner of the screen. We forget these things because we get so focused on other things. A job for this person. A commitment for another. Another job that somehow ties into our first job but also doesn’t tie in at all. Another job still that used to be fun but now feels like work outside of actual work because people know you can do a thing, and suddenly it’s all they see.
We get so tied up in other things that we forget that we initially came here to have fun. We’re here to try new things, and meet new people, and enjoy ourselves in ways we can’t in real life for whatever reason. And yes, many of us may have jobs that we do. We may even make some money from those things. And that’s great!
If all you ever focus on is other people – what they think, what they want, what they think they want, what they think you should do, how they think you should act, how they think you should present yourself, how they think you can improve your hobby, or your product, your profile, or the way you decorate your pixel house…
Just reading that is exhausting, isn’t it?
And when we start caring too much about that stuff… When we get to the point that we’re constantly going and going and going for other people and doing and doing and doing for other people… We forget about ourselves. We forget about what we want and what we think and how we intended to do the things we wanted to do when we got here. We go and we go and we go for other people until our well is empty and we can’t go anymore, and then, if we’re lucky, we’re cognizant enough to realize when we finally take a breath that we have managed to leave ourselves behind. And still, even that moment of clarity doesn’t always give us the push we need to take some time to ourselves and do something that we want to do simply because we want to do it.
“But Nova, that sounds selfish!”
Let me tell you something. A couple months ago, I got a new job as a software developer with a company who is teaching me how to code and paying me to work for them as I do it. It’s an amazing job, but learning essentially five new (albeit written) languages while doing a full semester of school is daunting. SL is my ‘me’ time. It’s the time when I put all of that aside and I get the opportunity to talk to the people that matter to me, and do things I think are fun, and hang out and just BE.
Except last week, I realized that my schedule mostly includes doing things for other people and squeezing my ‘me’ time in between. And I’m not talking about things that I agreed to do, of course. I’m talking about the weird phenomenon of people simply expecting me to do things. A couple weeks ago someone told me they were disappointed in me – a phrase which, for someone like me with my history, would usually leave me feeling a crushing level of disappointment in myself and a driving urge to somehow be better. Except this time, it just pissed me off.
Why? Because I volunteer to do things a lot. I do things simply because other people ask… a lot. I strive to be welcoming and polite and helpful. I’m managing my health better, my life better, kicking butt and taking names in school and at work, and still finding time to do things for other people simply because I like to make people happy. I like to be helpful. And before, when that cut into my me time, I didn’t mind as much because I still felt this weird sense of rewarding at having done something lovely and nice for someone else. And… none of that is anything to be disappointed in. In fact, I am proud of myself. As far as I am concerned, I am Wonder Woman.
But that reminded me of something really important that I’d managed to forget again: That I need to take some time for myself. That other peoples’ expectations of me are not necessarily my burden to bear.
That self-care and self-love are not selfish. Not in the real world, and certainly not in Second Life. You don’t have to be everything for everyone. Sometimes, the best thing you can do is tell everyone and everything to fly a kite… if that’s what you need you.
So here I sit in my pajamas. I took my picture because I love taking pictures. I did a little SL shopping. And later, I’m going to go see a live show or two, ride a baby t-rex around just because I can, build something hilarious and potentially completely useless just because I want to, and hang out with the people who matter most. Because you can work if you want to, and you can do all manner of things for other people, but it will stop being fun if you forget to do things for yourself.
[Body][The Shops]Legacy Mesh Body Special Edition (1.3)
[Skin][[ session ]]Astrid (tone 2)
[Lips][Top1 Salon]HD Glass Set
[Glasses][spoiled]Gamer Girl Glasses
[Outfit][Vinyl @ Kustom9]Sniffles Onesie
[Bean Bag][Magnifique Poses]Gamergirl Chair
[“Gameboy”][Magnifique Poses]Gamergirl Chair (part of pose set)
[Game System][Short Leash/Just Peachy]from Level Up Entertainment Center
[Slippers][dust bunny]flip flops
[Pose][Magnifique Poses]from Gamergirl Chair
[Tune][Ingrid Andress – Lady Like]