Brent A. Hopkins
In Casual Commitments, we explore the ups and downs of casual gaming. Well, we usually do. Today, the author turns inward. Get to know our games correspondent Brent Hopkins today. And yes, that’s a Ludacris reference in the title.
This is my first time writing something that is far more personal and completely separate from gaming, so bear with me.
Over the… entirety of my life, I have been a bit of a roamer. My dad has always had jobs in sales and marketing and as a really outgoing man he tended to get promotions or jump at opportunities for advancement, which meant we moved all the time. This meant that I never really settled down in an area, because like any other social training I grew to expect a ‘reset’ of sorts every three or four years. This is not something unique to me as I have met many people who have moved over the years, but heck, this isn’t about them, this is about me.
The benefits of moving all of the time are many: I have almost no real fear of moving into areas where I know no on,and I actually tend to thrive as the new kid on the block. Tied to being the new kid, I have always had the ability to meet people and build relationships really quickly. When time isn’t on your side you figure out how to cut out the social fluff. This has made me two things. First, I’m a bit overly honest with my friends and family because I like people to take what I say at face value. Second, I’m a bit of a social moderator. I tend to see both sides of all situations even if I don’t entirely agree with one or the other (which I have been told by another writer here is quite annoying).
These are all skills that have proven invaluable moving forward in my life as I have decided to live overseas as an English teacher for the foreseeable future, and I was surprised that it crosses cultural boundaries as well. A part of me feels like I would have maybe done better as a counselor or a psychiatrist but hindsight and I are not ones to sit down and chat. I take solace in knowing that I am good at noticing the small things that are important to people and teaching has given me a chance to affect people using these roaming skills.
The bad aspects of always moving around are things that I have been dealing with very intensely recently. 2013 was what I like to call “shitty.” It was probably the worst year of my life since I was around 13 or 14 when the uncle I was closest to passed away. I always assumed bad years had spikes in crap that happened but I found that starting in February 2013 it was a pretty sustained level of ‘bleh’ with refresher ‘ohgodwai’ on about a bi-monthly to monthly basis. I spent a whole bunch of time thinking back on myself.
The general mindset I have nowadays isn’t particularly conducive to longevity in anything. I am not used to lengthy routines so the idea of settling down is something I can’t really wrap my mind around. This is obviously detrimental to any romantic relationship I have because I always feel like I have a clock ticking down to when I will suddenly leave again. This is something I used as an excuse as a teenager for my inability to date but has not suddenly vanished as I have bounced between South Korea and the USA and my current job has me hopping contract to contract. This has caused me to have long breaks between relationships because the energy of starting coupled with the emotions of leaving are, shockingly enough, huge deterrents.
I am also a jack-of-all trades, which is something I have always liked about myself. The problem (as there always is a problem, right?) is that when I moved I always tended to change interests so I never got amazing at anything that wasn’t a social skill. I am not complaining about this, really, but I found that when I start to get a decent level of skill at something I just stop practicing feeling content with it. Now, I will be honest, I actually am super-competitive behind my perpetual smile so I tend to get above average at things I set my mind to. There has always been a part of me that does envy those that can say I am really good at ______________ (insert skill or ability here).
Lastly, I have these strange moments (in my mind, probably not to others) where I think about having a home — not a house. Now, I have a home that I can go back to with my parents there but I am closer to 30 than I am to 20 now and I of course think about having my own home. Nothing that I am currently doing is getting me closer to that, which is mildly worrisome. I am at heart a homebody and I actually love days where I get to relax at home, cook for those I love, and be domestic. This is in stark contrast to this underlying urge to move when I am comfortable in a place because of that damn timer that is always ticking. This leaves me feeling like the single man/woman versus the married one, longing for the pinnacle that only the other can reach.
I always tend to analyze others and while that is a useful skill if done accurately I think I know now that I also need to look at myself and my behavior as well. I am spending a lot more time trying to get back to ideas and ideals I care about, which is something I lost a bit over the last year. Writing is one of those and ya know I haven’t been this content in awhile even with an impending move around the corner. At least now I am aware of some of the good and bad habits I have accrued over the years but I feel like constant moving is an interesting thing to mold an individual.
Here’s to a better year than the last.