Dear Dr. Archer,
I am 24 years old and have had problems with video game addiction and social anxiety for years. I'm currently in my third year at a university. After failing my first year and missing my chance to get into medicine, I decided to try engineering. That didn't work out either, and I barely qualified for a second year computer science course this year.
The problem is that all the issues I've had for the past three years are repeating themselves. I frequently miss class. I lack the motivation to keep up with the work.
I have a HUGE backlog of things to do -- at least two weeks worth of catching up, but with school and personal things. Most is due to my procrastination and avoidance. I haven't played an online game in months, but am thinking of playing again. I love playing more than anything.
I'm so stressed that I want to give up studying completely and maybe work three days a week to have more time to do the things I enjoy. I've been playing computer games since my early childhood, and it seems like it's the only thing I'm good at.
Maybe I have to accept who I am: someone who is passionate about video games and not so bent on succeeding in life. Then I think that's just my addiction talking, and I will regret quitting on living a real life.
I guess I've completely lost my perspective. I have so much emotional turmoil and stress, there's no way I can make a decision. I just know I want to stop feeling like this.
I'd say my social anxiety is quite severe. I'm constantly doubting everything I do: the way I talk, walk, my decisions, etc. Sometimes I can barely get out of the house or even hold a conversation with my flat mates, and I've been living with them for years.
Not long ago I worked up the courage to tell my step-brother about my anxiety. He thought I was exaggerating a bit, and said I should seek counseling if it's a problem. I don't have the money, time or energy to try to find someone who can help.
I'm writing because I don't know what to do, and I don't want to make any more mistakes. Any feedback would be appreciated. Thanks.
I'm afraid you've set yourself up for failure, so I'm not surprised at all by the way you feel. No one can manage the rigors of medical school unless there is a true calling. Engineering is the same -- unless it's a passion, you're just not going to get it.
You enjoy playing video games. Why not look into a degree to become a game developer? The love of the game is a huge advantage in an industry where the focus is fun and fantasy. The key to success in this field is not only the love of video games, but you'll need computer and analytical skills and a good understanding of mathematics.
You could also become a video game tester. Video game companies hire people just like you to play and test new video games before they hit the shelves. Not only that, Adrian, they get paid well for it.
This is good only if you're up to testing all sorts of games. Unreleased games, with cheat codes, secrets and "bugs" need to be tested before they're put up for sale. Particulars are up to the companies; some hire employees while others hire freelance.
I can't help but think that if you were in a field that you enjoyed and envisioned your success with the degree, you'd do much better in school. Doing something you enjoy would boost your confidence, which you are lacking right now. As far as counseling, why not put some thought into what I’m saying first?
Look, you may have an addiction, there’s no way for me to know based on what you said. But many people in life just don’t put effort into finding their true calling and passion. Instead they follow along like sheep doing what others say they "should” do; law, medicine, engineering, etc…
If you feel a need to talk this over, your tuition pays for school counseling; you do not pay out of pocket. Make an appointment and talk it through. You must find a degree that is more suited to your interests. Once this happens, I believe you're going to have a whole new perspective not only with respect to life, but with yourself, as well. Good luck!