I have fairly recently embarked into a new adventure. A career change. That big expression that sends parents running in a panicked frenzy. As an almost 31 year old person, with a set career and 2 businesses, it was pretty surprising to many that I would make such a "rash" decision. From my point of view, it wasn't rash at all, in fact, I think maybe it was too slow to be honest. Lets start from the beginning so you can see what I mean.
I still remember how mesmerized I was the first time I used a computer. I was 4 years old in 1995, sitting with my dad, while he showed me how to play some Mickey Mouse game he had bought for us. In those days, computers were not common household items, but I don't remember ever not having them around, a computer was practically a family member.
See, my dad worked in IT so I was lucky to be exposed to computers early on. I would see him work for hours on end, sitting there, and I'm gonna be honest, I was hooked. It seems a bit ridiculous sometimes to think how I would sit with him for a couple of hours a week, to watch him work, and he would patiently explain what he was doing and why. Jump a few years later and I slowly moved to video games and consoles.
I never felt too interested in programming per se, but there was something about how you could just sit there for hours and be so absorbed into the tasks on screen that just seemed bewitching. I slowly started doing more and more on the computer, playing flash games in the early days, Fanart forums, old messenger services. I was using them all. By the time I was in elementary school I spent my recesses in the library playing games and reading weird science articles from science today or something akin to that.
"the real me lives on the internet".
This is a phrase I often used. I was quite bad at making friends, I had them, sort of, but I was often left behind, or as a last choice, bullied, and quite isolated. The internet was for me was a safe haven where I could just be myself, and do the things that interested me. I especially liked how you could find information, since I have an endless supply of curiosity.
I was particularly into drawing and art, so I started following art focused sites and forums. I became interested in making art for video games, and I would fill my notebooks with drawings of my ideas and creations. Nothing good, I was 8-9 after all. But nonetheless i marched on, doodling and coloring away.
I considered studying IT or CSE but people around me had a way of making it seem like it wasn't a right fit for girls, and that it would probably be bad for me, because I could become more isolated and my people skills wouldn't improve. And I'm so sorry to say, I actually believed them. At that moment I was lost, wondering what the heck can I study then.Everything seemed like a bad fit.
If ever there was a way to know someone really was apathetic and uninterested with the future, it was the way I chose a degree. I was so stressed and confused, I ended up signing up for an Industrial Engineering degree because the guy who sat next to me in year 12 had made some interesting points about the degree. It was really a "whatever, why not" kind of moment. It was probably the most brain numbingly boring thing I had ever tried to be honest. There was zero passion for it, so its no surprise I ended up transferring a year into it. I decided to transfer to a psychology degree, thinking it would be a good challenge since one of my biggest confusions in life had been people up to that point. I didn't seem to understand them truly, and somehow had failed to create deep, meaningful relationships. I always had to give my 200% in order to sort of have friends, and they easily left my life anyways. So I was determined to figure out that puzzle.
Many years later I can now say, I love psychology, as a subject to study and understand the world around me, but I still felt like something was off, maybe not right for me. It wasn't really until i moved away from my home country and was forced to work as something else, that I realized I had spent years trying to satisfy other peoples expectations of me that I had ultimately completely lost sight of who I was, what I liked, what I wanted. At that point I had stopped watching anime, writing fan fiction, reading books and playing games. To this day, its still somehow difficult figuring out what things are me and what things are from the expectations placed on me by others.
I spent almost 3 years developing a tattoo business and my psychology practice in a new country, only to burnout and was forced to reevaluate my decisions and reevaluate what I was going to do in the future. I knew I wanted to do art, but not sure if as a business and definitely not as a tattoo artist. I felt I wanted to go back into tech, but didn't trust I would be capable of doing so. It was weird, I first though "Ill become a 2D/3D artist" since this seemed like a natural transition from where I was coming with the art business. But to be honest,at that point I was just avoiding programming routes because, I flat out felt dumb. I felt as if my brain would not be able to do it anymore, I had somehow damaged or atrophied it beyond repair.
In comes the miracle of rest.
Somehow after a 2 week trip to my home country, where I literally spent all my time in bed, sleeping, playing, resting, I somehow felt my brain re arrange itself. I could almost hear it moving and starting to work. It was a really weird feeling, but it gave me hope. Its quite funny how burnout can somehow make you feel so dumb. I was sometimes struggling to keep simple information in my head, so I didn't deem it possible for me to learn programming. But with this break, and feeling as if I could think, I suddenly got interested again in learning about programming.
Making the long story short, as soon as I came back from the trip, I had made some hard decisions. I closed down my tattoo studio and dedicated my time to learning programming at home. I Started with a short c# unity course that honestly kicked my butt. So I decided to learn something more basic and ease into it. So next I started a UDEMY bootcamp for web development and boy oh boy, that turned out to be fun. I realized then that I didn't have to work as a game developer to make games, I could do this web development thing which I was enjoying, and learn GD on the side as a hobby. Ive so far also applied for an in person Web Development bootcamp, in the the hopes of getting an internship afterwards and setting off my career in tech.
But what about your dreams of being a game artist, you might be wondering.
I haven't forgotten art at all, and I still plan on developing games, but have decided to do that for me. There is a certain danger of making your hobbies work, and THAT I learned the hard way. I don't regret my tattoo studio, it was good, I learned a lot about running a business, but it killed my love for art. Now I'm drawing again, planning, and looking to the future with hope and excitement instead of just exhaustion and dread.
I don't know how this will go, will it take 6 months or 2 years to land a job. Will I ever make games that I could publish or will they be for friends and family only. But I'm not scared (a little maybe). The future looks bright and the possibilities seem endless. After about 15 years of figuring things out, I have finally come back full circle to the fun and exciting world I met as a child.
I'll try to document that journey here. So come along with me if you want to see how it goes. I'm sure many of you out there starting out have doubts and you're not alone. This definitely will come with challenges and difficulties to overcome, but I have no doubt it will be worthwhile.