Good morning Reddit.
This is a long one. TLDR / Conclusion at the bottom.
This post is not an easy one for me to write. This difficulty primarily stems from the primary target audience : myself. There are, however, a few major reasons why I am choosing to post this online, among them accountability and internet points. However, the main reason is if my experience can help even one other person wake up from the stupor of hedonism, then it's worth it. If you find yourself with strong goals and desires you fail to act on, browsing the web for hours on end, stuck in the loop of work - staring at a glowing box - not sleeping enough - repeating, and constantly carrying around immense guilt to yourself about not achieving your goals, then I urge you to read on.
I've been staring at screens for as long as I can remember. Some of the most vivid memories from my childhood come from Runescape, Smash Bros, Age of Mythology etc etc. But I was always a "bright" kid. One who they placed in the advance courses, I never had to study or take notes. All my friends and teachers called it a blessing, but only a single teacher recognised the real problem - it was too easy. After years of being able to cruise on my talents, I had deeply ingrained habits of procrastination and pleasure seeking. I did not have to work for my rewards. So long as I showed up to class, I would ace the tests. I learned to fear hard work and always search for the easy way out. My study habits were about as bad as a rich kid's spending habits. Instead of harnessing and cultivating my natural talent, I used it as a crutch.
This all meant that I could play video games and go outside with my friends for 99% of the time I wasn't in school, all the way up to my senior year of high school. That year I took several AP courses, and nearly failed all but two. The very first time school ever demanded anything challenging from me, I failed to actually put in the work. By this stage, my habits were minted in steel.
As I got older the games got better and better, to the point that I rarely went outside at all. The summer after graduation, I started my new addiction. I started smoking marijuana daily only months after trying it. While I do not believe there is anything inherently wrong with pot, it gripped me completely. Upon arriving at University, I got myself expelled by selling it. In hindsight, I was likely to fail several classes and lose my scholarships anyways. For the first time in my life, I had a taste of what my hedonism led to - A life of depression and stagnation.
Since my expulsion, I moved to Scotland to go to University. I have to live in the country for three years to establish residency. I've been here for two, and both of those years have been spent almost entirely going to work, smoking weed, and staring at glowing boxes.
Despite my terrible habits, I have always been ambitiously minded. I have a strong desire to be a writer, be it film or books, and have had this goal for the past 6 years or so. During my last two years of high school I was part of one of the best writing program in the states for highschool students. It was a wonderful opportunity, and I learned so much, but this too, I feel I wasted. I half-assed nearly all my assignments, only did the required reading half the time. The only mechanism I had for entering a state of flow was deadlines
Since graduating, I often find myself in a daze thinking back to those two wonderful years. Yet in my more clear moments of thought, I realize that by idealizing the past, I'm condemning my future, gripped by the fear that I will have peaked in high school.
About once a quarter, I go into a fear-fueled state of minor progress. I'll read some beneficial book like The Shallows or Mastery. I'll fill out the 4 Hour Work Week dreamlines, detailing what goals and wants I have. And for about a week, I'll improve, before slipping right back into my high gaming stupor.
When it still in school, I also picked up the habits of all nighters. I taught myself that boring sleep could be replaced with hours and hours gaming and videos. I would often miss morning classes, but that never amounted to much more to letters being sent home. Now, in the real world with a real job, I've been an hour or more late 6 times. Time before last, they said I'd be fired on the next. Somehow, I'm still here, but I can feel the thin ice cracking below my feet. One more all nighter - oops I missed my alarm - and I'm sacked on the spot.
That is what started this fully honest self assessment. I later looked through my own steam library in horror, browsing the hours played numbers. 1200 hours in Kerbal Space, 400 in Team Fortress 2, a few hundred here, a few hundred there. I thought about the ten-thousand hour rule, and realised had I been working on writing, or learning any skill, for that amount of time, I would be well on my way to becoming a true expert. Instead, I can build a pretty rocket ship.
Most recently, I put myself through extreme pain for absolutely no reason. After Christmas break, I got back home and had roughly a week left before I had to go back to work. Most of my friends had the same, and so I began what would become an insane gaming marathon of approximately 80 hours. At the end of it, I got into argument with someone in the minecraft discord server and then realized just how long I had been sitting there. I had not eaten in nearly 40 hours. I quickly got off the computer, ate something, and lied in bed. My extremely sleep-deprived brain began to have intense hallucinations: auditory, visual, and even tactile. I convinced myself I was dead, and stuck forever in a waking state, never to sleep again. I was still wired into the game in my brain. When I finally did fall asleep I became instantly lucid, still playing games in my dreams, unable to get the rest I longed for.
This intense experience was my breaking point. At that stage, I started to change. I now find the act of playing games/smoking to be dis-pleasurable. I am very conscious of time wasted now, yet that still didn't break the habits, but it planted the seed for the commitment I'm making today.
Conclusion / Commitment / TLDR
If you've read this far, I want to thank you for hearing my story. I hope if you find yourself in a similar situation, this helps you recognize from example that short term pleasure leads to long-term pain, and visa versa. I'm only 21 years old, and already I'm filling my life with regrets
This is the part where I make a commitment. I am tired of wasting time, and wish to do so no more. For the next 30 days, I'm going cold turkey. I vow to stay completely sober, and to not use my computer. (outside of work) Further, I will not browse unrelated websites at work (99% reddit).
After the 30 days, I will allow myself to game or watch movies on weekends only. During my abstinence, I may only relax/unwind by going outside, speaking to real humans, reading books, etc. If I need to use a computer for a legitimate reason, I'll go in to work early or go to the library, rather than using my own game-filled PC.
If you reply to this with any comments or pm me, I won't see it. Reddit is part of this too, and I won't be on it for the next 30 days either. I'll post an update in 30 days to let you guys know how I got on. Thanks again for reading. Wish me luck.