When writing is all you have left

Photo by Roman JΓΈe on Unsplash

There are times in our lives where we find ourselves lost, without any sense of direction or purpose. Maybe it’s the daily stress, the worries. Maybe we’ve burned out. It’s easy to lose motivation and track of what’s really important to us, especially when we reach a turning point in our life and we need to ask ourselves “What do I really want?”.

I recently found myself in such a point where nothing I did felt right. Where it felt like I wasn’t really doing it for a purpose other than for the sake of doing something. Moving countries and finding a job is not easy. That’s why I didn’t focus solely on finding a job as soon as I moved to Latvia. I would have stressed myself uselessly with “Why didn’t they reply? Why is it so hard to get a job? What am I doing wrong?” I gave myself time. I tried doing what I always liked doing and I tried doing it to earn a living. And I failed.

I’m not ashamed to admit that; we all fail, countless times, before we get something right. And I usually give myself a hard time for failing. I scold myself constantly and make myself feel guilty. This time was no exception, especially because I was trying to do something I like and get a career out of it and I promised to do my best. It felt like I failed everyone around me. But what use is it to beat myself up constantly? It gets me nowhere.

So I took a step back from everything. I fell into a state of nothingness. I stopped having interest in anything and everything I used to like and it was hard accepting that. It still is because part of that contributed to my identity. I was always known as “the girl who had drawing skills and some talent”. But I could never stay dedicated to one thing, I had many interests and wanted to do a lot of things. And that was part of the problem.

Wanting to do so many things gives you little room to perfect one of them. As much as I want to be an overachiever, I couldn’t possibly get everything done right and perfect everything I want to do. I set my goals too high and overwhelmed myself with thoughts like “I have to do these things and I have to do them right no matter what. It’s all or nothing!”. Rei says a lot of time I talk in absolutes.

Taking a break from everything helped me see things from a new perspective and realize not all is lost. Maybe I am but I am also a believer that it is never too late and I refused to let myself slide down the slope of anxiety and depression. I started meditating, something I was never able to do. And although I didn’t get sudden vision into the future or the ability to levitate, it put my mind at ease and in order. I am far from perfecting it but the simple fact that I managed to sit still for 15 whole minutes, focusing on nothing but my breath, is for me a huge step forward. And with that little break I gave my mind from over thinking, I was able to find a small thing I still can enjoy: writing.

I like to think I know English ever since I could make coherent sentences. At least that’s what I remember from what my mom once told me. They didn’t dub cartoons back then so I would repeat the words and ask my mom (who studies English in college) what the words meant. Seeing my interest in learning English, my parents made sure that the kindergarten and school they enrolled me in had English as a second language. I went on to study it for 14 years and then continue a bit with it in college too. My high school had an intensive English program and I absolutely loved it.

That’s when I learned to write all sorts of texts, from articles and letters to short stories and novels. My specialization was language and literature as well and I was drawn to analysing texts and creating my own (even if the materials we had to study were not always interesting). What I wasn’t always happy with was reading all the heavy novels our teachers demanded. I lost my concentration over time but my love for books stayed the same. And in this critical moment I realized that writing was all I had left.

I know how to do it. It is easy to perfect it. I even kept some of my high school books and asked mom to send them to me. And it is one of the few things I am still proud of. Writing gives so much flexibility and freedom. I have always liked sitting up late at night, imagining stories and inventing characters, taking them on adventures and bringing their emotions to life. I just never done it propperly, on paper. Maybe now it is time for that to change.

Probably a lot of this doesn’t make sense unless you have experienced the same thoughts and feelings as me. But I am sure a lot of us have reached rock-bottom even more than once. So the moral of the story is: be gentle with yourselves. Give yourselves time and patience. There is no way to control what has not happened yet, nor what already passed. So live in this moment because it is the only moment that counts. Show forgiveness to yourselves and to others. Acknowledge your failures and flaws, accept them and move on. And when you feel lost or overwhelmed, take a step back and give yourself time to put your mind at ease. It will be so much easier to see things clearly.

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What is happening in EA Games? Latest news and the future of The Sims 4

Over the last few months, The Sims 4 began receiving negative feedback from its community, culminating with the most recent stuff pack release, “My First Pet Stuff”. Before that, complaints were voiced regarding the “Laundry Day Stuff” pack, apparently an item pack made “by the players” through voting on the Sims Community website. Now, more recent news about several EA employees working on The Sims games being fired or moved to the mobile development branch has hit the internet and while nobody knows much detail about it, everyone seems to agree that “they had it coming”.

I have played The Sims games for over 15 years. It is my longest played game if we are to consider all four iterations of it one stand-alone game and I have seen it’s evolution over the years. While I haven’t been so active in the community until a year or so ago, I, too, noticed the changes that happened over time and the quite dramatic difference between The Sims 3 and The Sims 4 after the latter one’s release. Even back then the players were not so happy about how much of the base game content was cut off and in the past 4 years, EA proved that was setting the tone for the future expansions and stuff packs.

Many of The Sims 4 players returned to playing The Sims 3 because it is much more expansive. The open world, the ability to drive around in cars or on other vehicles, being able to play as more than one supernatural, the freedom you have when building are only some of the features present in The Sims 3 that makes players go back to it. Not to mention having seasons and the ability to go to university, which were already present in The Sims 3 four years after its release.

With the addition of pets being one of the most anticipated features added to The Sims 4 and with these worrying news all over the Internet, players are now wondering when and if Seasons will ever be released for the fourth iteration of the game.

“They had it coming”

Many fellow simmers will agree to this. Why? Because in the past few months EA seemed to have made a mockery out of The Sims 4 players by releasing incomplete packs and asking for money on DLCs for DLCs. While its predecessor, The Sims 3, came with a plethora of new content with every expansion and stuff pack released, The Sims 4 couldn’t deliver the basic features in its base game, let alone in future expansions. We didn’t even have pools when The Sims 4 was released!

True enough, The Sims 3 was (and probably still is) full of bugs but honestly, would it kill them to make a decent amount of content for the players? The answer to that apparently is “Yes” since only yesterday we got word that EA fired some of the veterans that have been working on the game for 20 years. Others were moved to the mobile development branch because apparently “mobile games are currently a money maker for EA” nowadays.

Let’s get something straight: mobile “gaming” is NOT a thing. Stop trying to make it happen. You just play games on your smartphone when you are on lunch break or on the train to pass the time.

If you read through The Sims community Facebook groups, players are not too happy about the new Sims Mobile game. Sure, it’s cute but ultimately repetitive and annoying, having to wait for hours for your sim to finish work and earn money (unless you pay real bucks for them to finish faster). I played it for about a week before I forgot all about it. I am better off reading a book or playing my 3DS on the train. So I really don’t see how mobile games can make such big money for them.

The beginning of the end

EA is claiming that “The Sims Franchise is indeed making big bucks for them” but them having to lay off some of the oldest developers working on the game is a bit contradictory, especially with one of the SimGurus saying:

“Cost cutting. We’re too expensive and they’ve got lightning in a bottle. Just business”.

Then again, with what has happened in the recent months and, in my opinion, the absolute failure with “My First Pet Stuff”, it’s no surprise that EA is suddenly facing budget problems. Cutting people off and making changes like this within the company is nothing new and it’s not necessarily a bad thing. But one of the SimGurus who was among those laid off delivers some worrying news on Reddit:

“The Sims as a franchise has transitioned over to the ‘casual’ side of EA over the years and is now under their Mobile umbrella. EA sees most casual players being on mobile, thus any Sims related projects going forward would be for that device no matter what. So yeah…”

“They will for sure keep pumping out mediocre packs as long as they can for TS4.”

“We usually started the next iteration immediately after shipping the basegame, but when we finished TS4 this never happened. Still today there has been no work started on TS5.”

Those are just some of the comments, you can find the full conversation here.

Not only it becomes more clear that The Sims 5 is not going to happen but apparently EA’s plans for The Sims franchise is to transition it to mobile and the community is not happy about it at all. The Sims Mobile has been a failure, very few still enjoy it more than a month after its release. Mobile is not and never will be a reliable platform for The Sims, no matter how casual EA thinks players are.

But apparently there is some “big news” expected at EA PLAY 2018 and giving the recent news, there is a lot of speculation going on about the future of The Sims franchise and what will EA decide to do afterwards. Many fear this is the end of the game franchise altogether. Some really believe the whole game will switch to mobile and that will be the death of it. Others are more optimistic and I want to agree with them.

Yes, firing developers that worked on the game for years and years may not be good news but perhaps this new restructuring will mean better content, preferably what everyone’s been waiting for, that is actually worth the money. Even if the game will come to an end, the least they can do is make it a good one.

I opened an Etsy Store + Other updates

I’m doing that thing again where I get hyped about writing a blog and I’m so on board with it but after a few posts I get a block. Not an idea block, ideas I still have aplenty. But it becomes like something I have to do more than something I like to do. And this post has been long overdue because I had to write it. It probably happens to a lot of people: when they start doing something they love and want to make a career out of it, it suddenly becomes a chore. Or maybe it’s just me?

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4 Of the Most Amazing Places in Antwerp you Need to Visit this Year

I’ve always wanted to travel around Europe, to visit cities like London, Amsterdam or Barcelona and although I haven’t been to that many places, last year I travelled abroad more than I’ve ever had in my entire life. I’ve seen incredible new locations that left me wondering… Just how big and beautiful can this world be? One of the cities I’ve fallen in love with and one that is still to this day my favourite is Antwerp.

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2017 – Year in review

I haven’t really done this until now but I decided, before posting anything else and before it would be too late, to write a short “Year in review” about all the things that happened in the year that passed. I know I wrote a bit about in the last year in a previous post but I have somewhat been keeping track of it on Facebook (obviously) and looking back to all those moments, I wish I had kept a journal of sorts. So I will take advantage of the fact that it’s still the beginning of January and take you through the… adventure that was 2017.

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Lyra Hi-Quality Art pens

Lyra has been my favorite brand of art materials for over two years. They provide a wide variety of high quality products at affordable prices that can sometimes rival with other well-established brands on the market. While I would love to make this a review on most of their products, today I’m going to be talking about the Hi-Quality Art pens, which are felt tip pens with water-based ink.

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Art supply favourites

For the past few years I’ve been (most of the time) unconsciously hoarding all sorts of art supplies, from papers and sketchbooks to pencils, pens and watercolours. I love trying out things and during my first visits to the art store I kept seeing new products popping up that my curiosity pushed me to try. So over time I ended up having too much of various types of pens, inks, pencils, notebooks and watercolours that made my mom constantly ask “What are you doing with all these? Do you really need all of them?”.

Yes, mother, yes I do.

Needless to say, I had to sort through them at one point so without any further ado, I’ve listed below some of my favorite art materials that I found myself reaching for and enjoying the most. I should mention that these are also in the budget range so if you are looking for good quality supplies to replace some of the more expensive stuff, these are some really good alternatives. I will try my best to post links where you could get them online but my advice is to look for them in actual stores. That should give you a better idea of the products and even test them out.

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