Friday, October 24, 2008

And the Walls Came Tumbling Down: Life Lessons from The Sims

I’m not afraid to admit that I never got over my love of video games.

Even now, as a grown 31-year-old woman, I still have a few PC games that I break out when times get rough. What sets me apart from the general public is that I’m very particular about mine. No Madden or Grand Theft Auto for moi. It’s all about Pharaoh, Genghis Khan, Sim City and *sigh* The Sims. I’ve been told that the first three games show my desire for world domination. The last one … Well, that just means I’m learning how to control people.

I justify my love of the Sims by saying it’s just like playing with Barbie Dolls…via the computer. You’re given all these simulated people and you’re responsible for keeping them happy. As long as you make sure they’re eating, sleeping and having a fair amount of fun, you’ll get bonus points as they advance in their professional lives. Ignore these factors and your Sims will wind up peeing themselves, having temper tantrums and punching random people in the face (true story, see photo).

Anyway, I’m trying to relate my past with the Sims to my own life. Years ago, when I played it on a frequent, obsessive level, I had this one Sim named Michael. I did everything I could to keep Michael in the green, the game's indication of a Sim whose needs are met. He was getting promotions at his job, enjoying his fancy apartment and swimming in his backyard pool whenever he could. Yet every day, Michael would come home and cry. The problem? Michael was lonely.

These days, I’m feeling a bit like Michael. I’m lonely. Not the kind of lonely where I need a man. Eff all that nonsense. Just the kind of lonely where I think I’ve gradually pushed folks out of my life, and it has got to change.

I’ve worked at the same place for the last three and a half years. From day one, I’ve put up this wall around myself that separates me from my colleagues. Sure, I participate in friendly banter and occasionally go to group lunches with them, but for the most part, I keep them all at arm’s length. I’ve limited most of my friends to an email or two here and there, but few phone calls. And when they do try to get together, if it falls out of my regular world of work, school, the gym, writing – I find a way to decline.

So I’m going to get rid of my internal Michael. I’m taking a hammer and slowly knocking down the brick wall that I’ve been building. I’m not saying that I’m going to run out and be buddy buddy to everyone. But I am going to stop letting ‘no’ be my first response to invitations. It’s time to let my inner Sim go.

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