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The end of the beginning

Posted by A Tobias 2 years ago
I've not updated this site in ages, and I've not released Taming Dreams either! I'd like to talk about the personal reasons for these things here, then I'll probably write another post later about the more technical aspects of what I plan to do with Taming Dreams (I've certainly not abandoned it; I've simply been very distracted). Also, here's a self-portrait that I painted the other day.

It's an odd feeling, painting a picture of yourself, especially if you're insecure about your looks for whatever reason, as I am. Having to stare yourself in the face, looking at every little detail. I feel that self-portraits should show more than a photo might. They should tell the story of their subject, express as much personality as possible, bare the soul. So that's what this is. And I feel it was successful! The people I know in person were amazed by it, and said it looked so like me that it was creepy. So that's good.

Speaking of people, they've been the biggest reason for me neglecting my games development work recently. As those of you who've been following me for a while will know, I was isolated for many years. No friends, no partner, and while people reached out to me online, I was so scarred and scared by bad experiences that I rarely replied and hid away. Dark times, those. So I suppose a change from that was so welcome that I struggled to focus on anything else.

I didn't meet many people at all during the first semester, though. I still only have two proper friends, both of whom I met in the first week. This is largely due to circumstance; there weren't exactly any opportunities to meet people on my course other than the ice breaker things specifically designed for that purpose which were available at the beginning. I see some people sitting alone in lectures, and I wonder if they have any friends at all on the course, so I wish there'd been more opportunities. I'd sit next to them and talk to them myself, but I've been so focused on deepening the bonds with the people I already know that I didn't want to miss out on any chance to do so.

I've been facing a lot of anxiety and despair for reasons related to that recently, actually. There's a psychological concept called ∞ attachment styles ∞ that says that our upbringing determines how we tend to act in and feel about relationships - romantic or close-platonic - that we might develop as adults. Those whose loved ones were always there for them growing up are able to trust that those they become close to later in life won't abandon them, but for those who were neglected or abandoned, there's the constant fear of the same happening again; they become 'preoccupied', jealous, anxious about losing what they have.

I grew up in a broken home with divorced parents, a neglectful father, no deep friendships or romantic relationships, things like that, so of course my own mind has been conditioned to expect - and fear - abandonment. My only romantic relationship was torn apart by the jealousy and terror that arose from this, though I thought at the beginning of the year that my 'spiritual awakening' had freed me from that irrational, constricting, poisonous way of thinking. I've learned from having close friends that it's not so easily shed, however!

Those two friends are going home for Christmas, but I'm not. I'll be staying here, alone. This is largely a choice; I could return to my family, but I find that more awkward than enjoyable (since the 'family' in question is mostly my step-dad's, and they're all over 50) so I'd rather not. Solitude is a relief from obligations, in that sense, but it's still a shame that I'll be all alone with nobody to really reach out to in person, and I'm plagued by fears that maybe I'll somehow lose my friends during this break; that maybe their interest in me will dissolve or they'll somehow find people more interesting than me and I'll lose all value to them.

There's also the thought that while they may top my own list of Most Important People In My Life, they both have partners, so I know I'm always of less worth or value to them than they are to me. Perhaps it's bizarre for people without severe abandonment issues or insecurities to even imagine thinking this way, but it seems to be deeply ingrained in my thought processes. "Am I good enough? Am I the BEST, MOST IMPORTANT person in their life??? Anything short of perfection is soul-shattering tragedy!!!!"

It's ridiculous. But much of the mind's nonsense is. Thoughts like this can tear us apart, and taming them - making peace with them - is what I've written Taming Dreams about because I feel it's an ongoing challenge for many of us in our real lives. I do know what I need to do to control my own mind; it's just easier said than done, and requires practice. Like how knowing how to do push-ups doesn't mean you can do a thousand in one go without a struggle. You have to work at it a little bit at a time, and that's what I'm trying to do.

Apart from shedding the self and clearing the mind through meditation - the spiritual path - there are also psychological techniques that can help, like ∞ cognitive restructuring ∞, where you basically reprogram your inner software. For example, changing "I'm all alone and have nobody to hug and to hold and to laugh with!!" to "I have a lot of time to do a lot of things I'd like - or need - to get done without distractions or worrying about another person's happiness". Again, though, it's a process that takes practice and patience. I say, to myself.

While the social experiences I've had so far have in some ways made me wonder if isolation was easier ("does this person even actually like me, or are they just enduring my presence?" is quite a prickly thought to deal with on a frequent basis), I'm very glad of many of them. It's remarkable how deprivation can lead to greater appreciation of things that others take for granted. Even the smallest morsel of food after a day spent fasting feels like the most glorious feast. For me, just receiving genuine, intimate hugs from people who clearly care from me was enough to leave me with a warm, fuzzy feeling for many hours afterwards. I know that must sound sad for those who get much more than that on a regular basis, but, well, maybe I'll be that lucky one day too. Maybe.

Apart from social concerns, I've been surprised by the amount of time I've had to devote to academic coursework. We've not had much of it, but it required the development of new skills and a lot of scientific research and reading. So that's been a huge time sink too, distracting me from Taming Dreams.

Taming Dreams. I fully expected that to be done months ago, and I suppose it is done; it's just the whole releasing it thing that I'm still scared about, and I suppose the other concerns in my life were good excuses to avoid facing the unfamiliar. I have however been posting on a forum of fellow app developers, asking how I should go about releasing it, so I've been getting a better idea about what I should do next. I feel less ignorant and alone about it all. Also, the replies my thread about it got suggested that many people were impressed by what I'd managed to make.

However, it seems that there's a long road ahead of me, and it won't be as simple as just pressing the 'release' button and watching the cash and fans pour in. I'll probably have to become a salesman in some form, actively promoting my work, and ugh, I've never been any good at that. I believe I can learn, but again, it requires rewiring of my mind. I imagine I'll have to do a whole lot of that over the next year.

But I will try. I feel like I've learned and grown a lot over the last few months; like I've been going through the stage of development that most people do when they first move out at age 18 and start exploring the world outside the bubble they'd lived in up until then. They start finding themselves and all that. I know I'm late with that, but, well, better late than never.

Which is also a phrase that I suppose applies to the release of Taming Dreams!!
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on 12 Roots


32 Argentina INFJ EIE SoSp RLUAN IAS PhlegmaticMelancholic
Hey! I haven't been able to log in here in a while from being busy with commissions, but I'm happy to see updates, I was getting worried that you weren't appearing!

"does this person even actually like me, or are they just enduring my presence?"

I actually like you as a person, and I wish to get closer, but I am afraid I annoy you cB
24 United States
The Jop
Hmm...it appears I double clicked so I posted twice. Well, I wish there was a way to delete comments. You're awesome, Toby!
24 United States
The Jop
Wow, it's good to see a sort of representation of your face. Nice hair. I have the same sort of attachment issues and it basically distanced me from every friend I've ever had. It's good to see you're doing better though; progressively getting more comfortable out there and making a nice life for yourself. It's sort of inspiring considering how you used to have trouble managing a website on your own and now you're making friends out in the real world. You were always an inspiration of mine, but now socially as well. I'm so proud.
36 Bulgaria
Tobias, my partner fell in love with you. (Being a fellow artist also helped. Me, I can just gnash my teeth from the side. :D )

For celebrating this New Year's Eve, I've been gathering those friends of mine who will be left alone, for one reason or another--but do not want to be alone. I'm part of a volunteer network--I'd like to call it a "community," but you'll see why I still can't--called the Human Library (∞ LINK ∞ ). One curious aspect of the majority of people who join us is that they've been loners, for most of their life. Many of them go through depressions (I myself have been bipolar since 2003). Most of them regularly inflict, or get hurt by, passive aggression (to which the question "Am I the BESTEST friend of this person" can sometimes lead :). I have been burnt by friends insisting that I should be their best friend; and I have burnt others likewise. However, with the best of them ;), eventually we grow out of the insistence, into the acceptance: "We're fine the way we are. And we're getting better." (Where "better" doesn't have anything to do with "best." ;)

(I'm certain you know these things. I'm sharing them because someone else may find them needed.)

Now off to my more concrete points:

Reading your thoughts above gave me the final kick I needed. I set up a Parteon account and joined your supporters' team: ∞ LINK ∞


Some people here (not many, fortunately :) ) have asked you to hurry up and release Taming Dreams. I--just like many others--ask for the opposite: *Please take your time.* What I'm backing through Parteon (and looking at the comments, I believe the sentiment is shared) is your peace of mind. The state that will allow you to be at your most creative, for as much of the time as possible.

I wanted to say this many months ago but couldn't summon up the right words: Releasing one episode of Taming Dreams per month is way too taxing. I cannot see how such a schedule could keep your peace of mind. What seems more realistic--kinder to both yourself and the results--is perhaps one episode every three or four months. At most. Which means two episodes per year is also fine. Or one. I'd like to see the best Taming Dreams you can dream up, not the quickest. ;)

I had a terrible burnout this year. After spending nine months preparing and publishing and promoting six different books (in my spare time; the Human Library is a hobby, not a paid occupation), I slid into one of my "low" (depressive) phases and spent the next three months doing next to nothing. I hadn't let anything like that happen to me in the previous two years (mostly by avoiding juggling with too many projects at the same time). I don't want it to happen again. And I'd be sad to see it happen to you--or indeed anybody.

You mentioned cognitive restructuring. I think this thing--learning to juggle with just the right number of projects, to not overextend yourself--is a similar skill. Let's practice them together, m? :) (I love doing things together, or at least in parallel, with others, so this was a genuine offer, not a jocular push. Watching how you're dealing with your demons here--scratch that; I meant "how you're taming your dreams" :D--helps me deal with mine.)

I apologize to everyone whose points I'm repeating. Well ... it just means you're not alone out there, yes? :)
36 Bulgaria
* My first link broke. It should be:

∞ LINK ∞

... Okay, I found how to fix it. :) If any moderator would like to delete this comment, please do.
19 United States INFJ 4w5 CholericMelancholic
I tend to read comments after I reply, so if this mimics anything, then whoospa.
I'd like to note this, because it's important. Yes, directly at you, Tobias!
If you get a chance, any chance, you should try to make at least one other close friend. I recommend this, because, as a person with few very close friends, I know how hard it is if one of them betrays you, or etc.
Make sure you have at least three, (three is a good number) close friends, so that way if something horribad should happen, you'll have others to fall back upon, as it were; So you do not end up with nobody's shoulder to cry upon.

That's really all I have to say, except that self-portrait is really cool. I like it.

Post Scriptum: I suppose this may sound very knowing and all, but it's not. Just something I would practice myself, is all- A suggestion, if it do ya, and nothing more.
25 Switzerland
There's also the thought that while they may top my own list of Most Important People In My Life, they both have partners, so I know I'm always of less worth or value to them than they are to me. Perhaps it's bizarre for people without severe abandonment issues or insecurities to even imagine thinking this way,

No, it's not at all. I'd even say that's normal. When I was about 15 my best friend got a girlfriend and she took every second of his so we never played games together anymore; the friendship broke apart. So yes, in a lot of cases that skews the friendship in that you like/need them more than they like/need you which is also kinda hurtful. However, good people tend their friendships even if they find a partner.
20 United Kingdom INTJ LII 379 SpSx RLOEI CIR MelancholicSanguine
First of all, that portrait is amazing, and really cool. Reminds me of how I could be practicing art but never find the time or keep making excuses to do something decidedly less productive. I know that feeling of being insecure about your looks. In fact, it's a lot of what I think about. I took a picture of myself the other day and was surprised by how dead my eyes looked. On the other hand, I'm trying to improve myself by going to the gym, and I finally seem to be gaining weight!

I met quite a few new people at the start of semester and some friends that I talk to quite a lot. I have a handful of good friends now and I've even secured a house for next year with some of them. I've definitely found myself wondering what they think of me. I often feel self-conscious around them and other people. I've been slowly talking to my flatmates less and less over the semester as they seem to be getting more and more rude (and loud in the early mornings). I entered the academic year putting on my best act and trying to be as social as possible but it's difficult to maintain.

I feel a little depressed whenever I stop to think about myself and I think I'm starting to be more self-loathing or ashamed. I often try to control my thoughts and feelings and numb by just *not thinking about it*. Although I have no choice when I try to get to sleep and these thoughts are able to come out in full force. The worst part of it is that I have no reason to have these attitudes: I am a middle-class suburban white guy with two caring parents that are still together. Do I deserve to be angry at myself and at the world? I have never had a romantic relationship or any sexual contact, and it would be easy to blame anyone else for that. At university, drinking and sex and pick-up game and all that is a massive part of the culture so I try hard to ignore it and hope no-one asks if I've ever even had a girlfriend before. No-one has ever expressed romantic interest in me to my knowledge and I just don't know how to get it. I don't even know if I want a romantic partner or if I just want to look like a more impressive, social person, or if I just want to try sex.
I'll have to read up more on "attachment styles" and mindfulness at some point.

I'm still here in my flat, with everyone else gone home. I haven't had a real conversation since last week, and most frighteningly it hasn't made me feel any different. I've enjoyed the relative silence. I can imagine most of the people I know here would get lonely very quickly with no-one to hang out with. I'm going home tomorrow but only for a week or so, and somewhat out of social necessity to spend Christmas with my family. I also have coursework to do, and I need my PC (which is here) to do most of it. Even in this empty Christmas break I've spent entire days working on this coursework and barely have time to do other productive hobbies or relax. There is revision for exams too, and then the next semester will begin and I will go into it no less stressed than before!

This last academic year, since leaving my bubble, has had ups and downs just as they said it would, and currently I think I'm on one of the downs. Hopefully I can come out of it with more knowledge and a better attitude towards life, and that I pass the exams required to continue my course. Here's hoping the next year goes well for you, and for Taming Dreams, too!
23 Germany INTP ILE 952 SxSo RLUAI IAS MelancholicPhlegmatic
Though you may be very self-concious about the issue of releasing your game and what you mean to your friends, the way you already think about it really impresses me and shows that you are clearly on the right path! Just don't get distracted and keep self-aware :)
I can fully understand your fear that you might not mean as much to your friends as they mean to you, maybe it's not asstrange as you think after all? If I've been learning something about relationships then it is to talk about issues like those in a kind and understanding way before these thoughts gain control about your behavior and weaken your bond to your friends. You know them better than me, but if you've chosen them as friends i'm sure they will understand your fears and can soothe them. Pretty sure this will be a huge relief for you.

You always seem to think your personal development is lagging behind compared to people your age but imo it's the other way around.
Through your agony in young years you've come to a degree of self-reflection many people (if they even reach it) only reach much later on. Please don't see that as years of your youth you missed out on (i also thought that way and it was really poisoning) but see it as an opportunity to be able to experience your young life in a really beautiful way.
Oh and by the way i really like your selfportrait and can almost feel the emotions put in there. Glad to read from you again, Tobias!
29 United Kingdom INFJ EII 459 SxSo RLxaI AIS MelancholicPhlegmatic
I understand that the way I feel about my friends' views of me is due to the preoccupied attachment style my upbringing has left me with; descriptions of it hit the nail on the head. This is a good thing, because it allows me to search for things like "preoccupied attachment treatment" and find solutions that others have developed for these kinds of thoughts.

Of course, I'd also like to talk about them with my friends too, and I sort of already have. I do get reassurances and soothing support, but it's never really enough; my mind wants - 'needs' - more. And it isn't fair to burden them like that; it runs the risk of scaring them away if I seem too obsessively clingy and needy. It's why developing myself internally is the best course of action, I feel, and today I've managed to tame my thoughts quite well using various techniques.

I actually do feel that what you say about my personal development is true, sometimes at least! I mean, I've attended two long mindfulness courses in order to develop my command of my mind even further, and both times I've been the youngest, and despite that, the others - some of whom were retirement age - regarded me as especially wise. I've developed an understanding of something transcendent much earlier in life than most (and the majority never find it at all), because I suffered so much that I was pushed into it. This seems to be the way in spiritual circles; people end up drawn to the world of 'inner peace' and self-transcendence when the canvas of their life tears apart and they catch a glimpse of the deeper nature of reality behind it. Or something.

That's how I feel about it some days, so I very much appreciate that it's something that you see in me too. Other days are worse and I focus on what I don't have rather than what I do, so thank you for reminding me how to see it more positively!
23 Germany INTP ILE 952 SxSo RLUAI IAS MelancholicPhlegmatic
Glad that my text was a bit of an uplift to you! You know, the development you've gone through has been a huge inspiration for me (and i guess many others out there) and helped me to develop myself so i'm happy to give something back though it's just a little.
What you wrote about the friendship issue really sounds promising, hope you can continue to "work on your thoughts" that way. I see what you mean about the worse phases, it can be really frustrating to fall back into a low-level after feeling a little bit too euphoric about a good phase, hoping it could last forever that way. Embracing and accepting those worse phases is something i'm currently trying to do, seeing them as some kind of challenge and using them to find the middle between the ups and downs. Sure you thought about that already at some point but maybe thats also a thing one sometimes wants to be reminded of?
17 Malaysia INTP
I can't fap to this!
22 United States INFP 3w4 MelancholicPhlegmatic
That's a lovely portrait, Tobias.