Made this one post for GameCube Week, but it kind of morphed into something else. I’m just gonna post it anyway.
On November 18th, 2001, I walked into a Zellers and bought a GameCube. Five years later, I was in line with my friends at that same Zellers, waiting to pick up our Nintendo Wii pre-orders. Between those two sentences, I did a lot of growing up.
A couple of key factors around this time shaped me into the adult I would become. For one, I became a lot more social. Having moved to a different part of town put a damper on my social life. But as we got closer to the launch of the GameCube, being social became a much bigger facet. The combination of getting closer to old friends, making new friends, and everyone getting their driver’s license plowed down any sort of barriers outside of school property. Despite the GameCube being a great system for party games, I wasn’t playing video games much with friends at the time.
Around this time, I also started my first job. Working as a stock boy for a pharmacy, it was my first experience in a professional environment. Whether it was customers or coworkers, I met a lot of different people and had numerous types of interactions that I wouldn’t have had otherwise. As tiny as those bi-weekly paychecks were in hindsight, that money helped fund all the social outings I would go on, the junk food I would eat, and the video games I would play. One of the first purchases made with my own money was a copy of Super Smash Bros. Melee, which would be given to my brother as a Christmas present.
Between sessions of NBA Street and Resident Evil, I had to make some very grown-up decisions about my career ambitions. Growing up, I thought I was simply going to follow in the footsteps of my mom and other members of my family by pursuing a career in accounting. Even after scoring grades in the high 90s in my high school accounting classes, it became clear that I didn’t have a passion for it and couldn’t stomach the idea of crunching numbers for the rest of my life. With the time running down on university applications, I had a lot of soul-searching to do in a short amount of time in order to figure out the biggest step of my life up to that point.
You know how in Breath of the Wild when you get the paraglider, jump off the tower, and realize that the world is far bigger than you could have imagined? This was me when the GameCube launched. I bought that GameCube thinking that it would be the centre of my universe like the Super Nintendo and the Nintendo 64 were. Instead, gaming kind of took a back seat to this convergence of events that served as the backdrop to my coming-of-age story. What will happen with my friends and I once we all head off to university or college? Will I eventually establish myself in a career path? Will I ever find true love? Will I ever be happy in the skin I’m in? All of these questions rose to the forefront of my conscious.
My journey towards self-realization led me to a lot of wonderful people along the way. My first foray into the college life was the best time I ever had in school. Joining a group of new and like-minded individuals who were working towards the same dream of establishing careers in the radio industry created a number of amazing memories and friendships. Over a decade later, I’m still in touch with my college peers Mat and Jon thanks to Boss Rush.
The journey also took me to places I did not expect. My radio career started at a radio station 100km away that played music I’d never given the time of day. Almost completely removed from the place where I lived my entire life up to that point, it was a liberating experience to get the opportunity to establish myself as a professional adult in an environment free of baggage.
Wish I had could have stayed in that job at least long enough to cut a solid on-air demo, but I got let go due to budget cuts. Would eventually get back into the radio industry in an off-air role, but I was never able to get that door open again. At the time, I saw it as my single biggest failing in life. Was told throughout life that if you did well in school, the rest of adulthood would sort itself out. It didn’t.
Turns out, life isn’t so straightforward or fair. Actions don’t always lead to a desired outcome. That lesson was a really hard one to swallow. I wallowed in a really dark head space for years, continuing to work the part time stock boy job I thought I could leave behind, but now with a massive debt to pay off for the car I bought to drive to the job I no longer had.
While I didn’t have as much control as I thought I did, it doesn’t take away the control I do have. Nothing in this world is guaranteed, but there’s lot I could do to put myself in the best positions to succeed. Once I picked myself off the ground, I attacked life with a focus to reach my goal of settling into a career. Knowing that it wasn’t promised, I prepared for the worst while doing everything I could to be ready when the right opportunities arose. None of my redemption arc happened during the GameCube era though. I was still deep in depression well into the Wii era.
Did I find true love? Eventually, yes. But definitely not during the GameCube era. However, I did learn some valuable things about love during this stretch of time. Similar to the lessons from chasing my career ambitions, it was around this time when I realized that relationships are more complicated than a binary input and response. People and emotions are complicated, and things won’t always go the way you envision them. All you can do is control yourself to the best of your ability and be the best person you can be for those you love. You leave yourself open to get hurt, but that’s part of the price you pay to find those who are willing to open themselves up to you in the same way.
Did I ever get truly comfortable in my own skin? I definitely didn’t during this time in my life. With the rise and fall that I went through, I felt like the biggest fraud. With the passage of time and the efforts I made to pick myself back up, I definitely got closer to that ideal. I don’t think I’ll ever truly be comfortable with who I am, and I think that’s okay. As long as I’m confident enough in who I am and I continue to try and improve myself as a person every day, then that’s all I can reasonably expect.
By the time the Wii launched at the end of 2006, I was probably at my lowest point. I had given myself a hard deadline of December 31st, 2006 to re-establish my place in the radio industry, and it was looking more evident by the day that it wasn’t going to happen. I’d picked up a data entry job at my mom’s work on top of two other part time jobs I was working and the nature of the work was just soul-crushing for me. I was watching many of my friends move on with their lives with careers and families of their own, and I was stuck in the same spot I’d been years ago.
But for all the hardship I went through during this time, I wouldn’t be the same person today without it. Going through that pain forced me to open my eyes to the world around me and the person within me. Had I not struggled the way I did, I don’t think I would have fought so hard to get to where I wanted to go. I don’t think I’d appreciate the joys life has to offer in the same way. I don’ think I would have cared for those around me with the passion and dedication that I do. I’ll never know for sure, but I do know this snapshot in time transformed me into the person I am today.