When, exactly, did Autumn reach us? My favourite seasons of Spring and Summer are behind us, and I feel like I didn’t even get to say hello to them. The Coronavirus has made this year a bit of a write-off for everyone. I look back with melancholy at the end of last year. I considered 2019 a year to leave far behind me in the dust, and march forward towards a ‘much better’ 2020.
I quit streaming in late 2019. This had been a long time coming. I always knew I wouldn’t stream forever, but the entirety of 2019 had been one steady decline into disillusionment with streaming. Each issue that arose just felt like another nail in the coffin.
I reached the eligible subscriber count to have an improved partner contract, which I was ecstatic about. My friends and community had given so much to get me to that point. This came at a time when my finances were hitting a low, so the improved revenue was much needed. I happily contacted Twitch staff right away. However, over a period of painful months, I got strung around by Twitch staff until they just… stopped replying to me. It was difficult knowing my peers had better revenue than me, despite us reaching the same requirements. And for no discernible reason. It was a sad reminder that it didn’t matter how much I did, how hard I worked, the system isn’t fair so it doesn’t really matter.
I attended both TwitchCon Europe and the St. Jude summit, with both leaving me feeling overwhelmed and like I didn’t belong. I feel bad saying that, as for the most part people were very nice to me, but I’m just not a social person who’s cut out for those big events or dealing with friend group dynamics. I tried it, because I think it’s important to try things even if you don’t want to do them, but in the end I think it did more damage than good.
The wonderful community manager at Nintendo moved on, and I couldn’t get a response from the new community manager. That was the end of my only good company relationship, just like that. There was a period of months with no game releases I found interesting, leaving me with nothing to share I felt enthusiasm for. I had issues with other streamers which left a sour taste in my mouth I couldn’t seem to get rid of. There were other smaller issues, too. And throughout all of this, my hand pain was very slowly getting worse.
Something that had once been a fun way to share my passion for games, to make people laugh, to try and be creative and a good content creator, became a sad thing. I lost my passion and motivation for it; all these problems hung around my neck and weighed me down. I could feel myself becoming colder and snippier when engaging with people. I was tired, emotionally and physically – working full time and streaming 4 to 6 days a week for years is exhausting, not to mention the ‘extracurricular’ things I would do like emote or team work.
All this is why I was so looking forward to 2020. More time for myself, more time to relax. Maybe pick up some new creative projects, find something else to be passionate about. Things haven’t worked out that way, though. Coronavirus meant lockdown hit England in March, and I’ve been working from home since then. Honestly, the first few months were fine – I saw other people complaining early on and didn’t understand where they were coming from. But as time has worn on, I’ve started to feel it, too; even if I’m not massively social or outdoorsy, I do like to leave the house, or at least feel as though I have a choice. I’ve been craving a visit somewhere picturesque, but I can’t justify doing anything right now, it’s not worth the risk. I enjoy working in an office and chatting with my co-workers, which isn’t quite the same over messaging services. Still, it could be worse. At least my setup is good and my partner is also working from home, so I’m not alone.
My real struggle this year has been with my hands. I mentioned they got worse throughout 2019, and that’s continued this year, too. It’s a slow decline. I’ve had to accept I simply cannot play games like I used to. This has been a pretty devastating adjustment for me. I’m an incredibly hobby-focussed person, I define myself and find my enjoyment through my hobbies. I’ve found myself having to move on from the hobbies I love, not through choice but just because I have to. I do still play more than I should and leave my hands in some pain – I simply get so bored and don’t know what else to do. I picked up Final Fantasy XIV again, because at least there is a variety of content, some of which is not very strenuous like gathering or crafting, or decorating my in-game house. But every time I have to say ‘no’ to some combat content because I know my hands will get too sore, I’m left feeling sad. Games like Fortnite or Overwatch have become quite out of the question.
I turned 30 last month. I’m not one of these people that has any issues with getting older, or feels any different about it. But it did leave me thinking ‘if my hands are like this now, how will things be in another 30 years?’. That thought really scared me. I’ve been spending my days watching TV, and I already feel as though I’ve exhausted everything I’m interested in. I’ve reached the point where I’ve doubled back and re-watched seasons 1 and 2 of Game of Thrones in a matter of days, for lack of anything else I’m interested in. I’ve seen more films in this last month than I probably did in the entirety of last year.
I know it’s something I’ll get used to. I’ve been a bit of a miserable sad sack these past few months, crying a lot, sitting and doing nothing a lot. But I can feel my outlook getting a bit better. It’s only small but it’s a start.
The obvious lifeline has been having a partner. I can’t imagine how much worse this would be to deal with alone, not just mentally staying afloat but with physical things like when I’ve struggled to open food cartons. Beyond that, my dolls have lifted my spirits throughout this time. I know it’s a hobby a lot of people don’t understand. It’s hard to explain, but they calm me. Waking up and knowing I get to see their pretty faces brings me some cheer. Thinking about my plans for them, making wigs, taking pictures have all proved a welcome distraction. So I’m thankful for that. I’ve also been listening to a lot of Hirasawa Susumu’s music, which I’ve always liked but it especially resonates with me right now.
With my experience last year, I now know not to stride with so much confidence into the coming year. There’s no way to know if 2021 will be ‘much better’. Anything can happen. It’s better to focus on what I can do to make right now a better day.