22```Feeling alive not living my life, I guess

This week was quite an emotional rollercoaster. The first two nights (counting Sunday night of the previous week) I was so excited I couldn’t fall asleep until somewhere around 4am. Then Tuesday night, I found myself in tears, two hours after initially reading a message from someone about his story. Followed by that were a few days of joy and little excitements. Still couldn’t sleep until pretty late as my brain wouldn’t shut off from thinking, planning, strategizing, etc. Then stress came along, and I broke down in the subway on Sunday. After I calmed down, I started writing, which turned out to be 12 hours long, almost with no breaks (that were longer than 10min), all the way till 8am the next day, before I headed straight off to school and fell asleep standing in the subway.

All of these revolved around one project that I started brewing two months ago, but things didn’t really take off until two weeks ago. I don’t feel like talking about it here, yet, as I want to give it more time to grow and take its form before I officially announce its birth.

But, yes. I have a project. It feels pretty fucking ambitious sometimes. But it also feels very personal.

When I was happy and excited, I was feeling that everything was just perfect. It felt like I was meant to do what I was doing. Things fell into place very smoothly, almost too smoothly.

When I wasn’t happy and excited,  I was stressed for part of it. I broke down because I experienced imposter syndrome, I guess, but I was really thinking that I wasn’t even good enough to deserve an imposter syndrome. And I thought to myself: why the fuck am I making my life harder by pursuing this project? Why couldn’t I just be content with studying game art alone (which actually IS a lot of work since it’s part of a masters program)?

And sometimes it was heaviness. I had many calls with different people this week to get a better grasp for the project. And several of them told me deeply personal and heavy stories that I sometimes didn’t know they would be willing to share with me, as I had just met one of them twice, and I just got on the first call with another of them. I guess they really believed in my project. Those heavy moments would last for a little while in me, when I tried to digest not only the stories, but also the trust they gave me, and the new found purpose to the project. (When I conceived the idea of this project, there wasn’t any heaviness to it at all.)

What calmed me down after my major breakdown, and the smaller episodes of doubt or anxiety or stress, though, was the meaning I find in this project. I really believe in it, and I felt like there was no one else who was at a better place to do it, or at least *try* to do it, than me. It wasn’t because I am more capable skill-wise. I actually have almost no experience in the skills needed for the project. 

So I had a combination of feeling I was absolutely uncapable and feeling I absolutely had to do this project. This was quite a consistent feeling throughout the whole week, through my ups and downs.

This project completely consumed me for the whole week. And because it required me to peek into multiple people’s mental worlds, for a few brief moments I felt like I was living as a collective of lives in a very narrow aspect, and ”my” life had paused.

I was hyper aware of how I behaved and how I felt this whole time, and was surprised at the different personality I took on/adopted during this project, but that new personality felt natural, and not something I consciously built for others.

So I wondered if that new personality was a sign. The Wendi who was really (and perhaps, overly) confident and ambitious (not only that, but she genuinely believed her ambitious goal was achievable), who was always actively solving all the problems that emerged, who felt like she almost knew exactly what she wanted artistically, is the closest form I have experienced yet to my archetype. Maybe this feeling of confidence and self-assurance, which didn’t come from too many outside sources (esp I had no professional figures affirm me), is a sign that I found a right project for myself. And I should remember that feeling, so that next time I feel something similar, I know what it is.

As I am writing this update (Tuesday the 22nd), I would say that’s not something I completely agree with anymore, already. My mindset has shifted in the past two days, but that will be the discussion for the next update.

I was already experiencing some changes over the weekend, actually. A huge part of my stress came from the fact that I was sort of a leader in this project. I had just officially assembled a little team on Friday, and by the weekend I was already feeling uneasy about my new role. I didn’t like the feeling of having to be positive all the time in front of the teammates that trusted me and believed in me. I didn’t like the fear of letting them down. It is one thing to fail myself, which I am so okay with, and it is another thing to fail with other people who are so enthusiastic and give me so much trust in my unproven abilities.

I have thought about this seriously: if my gap year turns out to be one failure after another, that would actually be so great, too. Especially if I keep up with the weekly updates as I fail. Who’s ever followed through someone’s repeated journeys of failure from the start to the end, ever? At least I’ve never seen that. That’d actually be such a success then, because it’s so unique.

But anyways, so, yeah. I don’t like leading people. Even though I am. I felt like I had to for the sake of the project. But, well, that’s also changing for me now.

Apart from this project that felt like everything I had in my life, I also went to EGX with my game classmates. There I discovered:

the documentary game genre,
a quite clever game the intentional irony of which didn’t seem to be picked up by other players at the booth, unfortunately (and I guess the game’s publisher interviewed me because I did pick up the irony), 
a funny VR game that makes you and your friends shout at each other,
a cute game that has two players in the same body,
a VR game that was, rather than a game, a cinematic piece of art.

This last VR game really impressed me. Even now, already five days after experiencing it, I would still call it one of the best VR art I have ever experienced.

So when I told Ben, the person who made this “game,” that I would genuinely be delighted to see this work in a major art museum or gallery, I felt sad and powerless to hear him say that he had tried getting into the art world but never found his way in.

That night, I really wished I could be some powerful figure in the art or media world, so that I could “recognize” his talent. This game wasn’t the kind that would sell, at all. And, what made me feel worse was that, I went to a gallery in Shanghai this summer and they charged me more than 15 dollars for a 15-min VR experience that was definitely not as good as Ben’s...

So I just repeatedly told Ben how much I loved it, in hope that he would continue making experiences like it until one day someone with the resources discovers him. I think that my words at least should have helped a little.

Here’s Ben’s portfolio