Dear Diary 01

Just four days to go until my journey begins! By this time next week, I will have finished at Industrial Light & Magic and have started development on 'Sentenced' in Budapest. I don’t just want this blog to be about game development. Choosing to quit VFX (for now) and follow my dream is a big decision for me, so I want keep a series of personal, diary-style blogs along the way to document the experience.

To put it mildly, it's been an emotional week. I had a goodbye party with my wonderful friends, who I’ll miss terribly, and afterwards I spent a few days by the seaside with my girlfriend. As it's unlikely I’ll be returning to London after Budapest, and she’s going home to California, we decided to split as neither of us wants the heartache of a transatlantic relationship. We knew it was coming, but that doesn't make it any easier.

This mix of simmering adventurous excitement and farewell melancholy has got me feeling retrospective. I keep expecting someone to stop me and say ‘Sam! What are you doing? You’ve gone mad!’ but nobody has. I’m beginning to think that my they might simply believe in me.

Like many of my generation, I was sold a very by-the-numbers template of how my life would (or should) pan out. I would study hard, get good grades, and make it into a decent university. My education would secure me a well paid job, I’d use the money from THAT to pay off my student debt, take out a mortgage, then presumably rinse and repeat until retirement, whereupon I would live off my pension until dead. Oh, and along the way, I’d fall in love, get married, and have children.

I didn’t really question this growing up. I was a good kid and eager to please. My only real guiding principle was simple: if you’re going to spend your entire adult life working, you’d damn well better enjoy what you do. As I grew older however, I learned two fatal truths about myself that have expanded that perspective:

  1. I need variety, change and surprise. If I’m doing the same thing for too long, I become frustrated. To be happy, I need to be doing or making something new. As Neil Gaiman once said, “Do anything when it feels like an adventure, and stop when it feels like work”.

  2. There is no correct way to live. The study/work/retire/die dream of my parent’s generation is increasingly difficult to achieve (especially in London) due to increasing property prices, crippling education costs and a rising retirement age. And if I were to really ask myself, do I even want to be tied to a property mortgage, spending the best years of my life working towards a retirement that I’ll be too old to enjoy? No. I'll enjoy life now and do what I want, even if I fail, because the future doesn’t exist.

I feel strongly in my heart that now is the right time to do this. I love Visual Effects work, but I feel the pull of Virtual Reality more strongly, so I need to take a break before passion turns to ‘work’. There’s no certain path or guaranteed success on my next step, but I know that if I stay still any longer I’ll never know. I’m ready!

Keep it weird.