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The Reset Button

Updated: Dec 23, 2019

Growing up, I was a gamer. I played for hours, days probably, just trying to be the best, but really I was just trying to beat myself.  My goal was to finish the story, to get the high score, to get lost in these worlds loaded onto cartridges and discs. However, there was one hiccup that I, like countless other people dealt with, sometimes dealt with over and over again. You could die in these worlds.

Sometimes you could respawn back at a checkpoint or wherever you last saved the game and try again before failing almost immediately or moving to the next level. I was never fond of getting bested by spike pits, dinosaur-turtle hybrids or mystical creatures. I would scream obscenities whenever I ran out of health because of some paramilitary combatant, passed by the driver who always seemed to be set at a crazy high level or struck out by whoever was the ace pitcher. Even as a child, I was a crazed control freak who would abuse this tiny piece of plastic on the right side of the machine.

Reset buttons came in different shapes and sizes situated on the opposite side of the power switch in different shades of gray. Sure, you couldn't have the video game without the power switch, but for the player prone to perfection, the reset button was the ultimate source of power. If anything in the slightest went wrong or I wanted to take a new plan of attack, I would slam my finger down on the spring-loaded plastic, let the screen fade to black and start anew. No harm, no foul.

Video games hold a special place in my heart. They helped me learn how to read at three years old. They took me to new worlds and allowed me to explore different versions of the human condition. My favorite games allowed me to walk through the improbable, but provide an irresistible story I needed to finish, while trading bullets, clashing swords and crossing finish lines that I couldn't in reality. Some provided an outlet to explore my sometimes irrational competitive streak, causing me to yell at the digital counterparts of real people and inanimate objects. Treasures and trophies were my motivation and my escape. Even though I only revisit them when the urge arises, video games were probably where I got a lot of my defining qualities.

These old friends got crazy sophisticated and expensive, as I gained experience. I shed weight, systems shed the reset buttons and eventually, the games had more intelligence from their inception than I had picked up in my whole life. When we lost the reset button, I decided to repurpose it as this metaphor that I would spout off in my actual life.

Whenever life got to be too much for me through work frustrations, family issues and the insanely high standard I set for myself in school, I would punch my own reset button. I always imagined it to be like the easy button from Staples, except it had a picture of a smiley face on top of the red button. A light would flash inside and I would be a whole new person.

A new me.

A clean slate.

A fresh start.

My perspective of just resetting things was always kind of hazardous. It usually started as me fading to black the moment I decided to take on a new mindset, new career goals, new life goals. I would sit alone and think about how I thought people perceived me, how I perceived myself, and how I would look. The picture would return to this basic form of me, my own start screen. Then my thoughts would get bigger and I would think who and what's helping me, why they're important to me or what's causing me challenges from moving forward.

Then I would overcome those challenges by removing them. Like my own little cheat code to help me move on.

Think back to the original Sims game. Remember hitting CTRL+Shift+C and typing "Rosebud" followed by what could be endless semicolons and exclamation points? You did that and you had all the money in the world to build a dream house and have all of the best possessions the game had to offer and it was great. For awhile.

Then the game gets boring. You may stop playing and then you have a new problem of finding a new way to continue with your day. The perfect situation became a problem because the challenge got taken away. There was no reason to keep playing because the life got taken out of it.

Removing the people and the challenges and the challenging people didn't do anything but take the life away. The only result from that become this lonely, lazy apathy that did nothing for me but reveal the problems in myself and how I thought about things like my jobs, friends, family and what made me happy overall.

In this pursuit of trying to find my best, I'd still end up getting stuck and then I would hit reset. I would keep playing for a while until I wasn't content anymore. I've lost friends, passions and career aspirations every time I hit reset because just like a video game, you still lose progress by restarting.

Now I've graduated college, and I've pretty much got an easy checkpoint, save, reset spot. I could completely strip things away again and start fresh just like I have been up until this point.

But just like modern game systems, I don't need a button to restart. I don't need to cheat to make the game easier and blindly play through. Here is the point in the game where the challenges get really hard and I'll just take the hits, respawn and try my best keep going with my story. If something doesn't work, I'll look at my strategy and my team and my skills and figure out new ways to work through to the end and come out a winner in my own right.

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