Tuesday, August 7, 2018

Evo 2018: Recap and Reflections

Evo this year was interesting for me since I entered as a last minute thing, and I wasn't sure if I was going to 1) cheerfully drink during the bracket and play whatever character I wanted or 2) try my hardest. Approaching the event though, I had some more thoughts on where I'm going in my personal development, and it led to me picking option 2.

As per my post on existing with anger, it occurred to me that I have been too afraid to even experience certain emotions because of my difficulties in dealing with them. If you have observed me at any point during the past twelve years of my life, then you know I have issues managing my anger. I don't know if other people get as angry as I do, or if it feels as intense and unbearable for other people as it does for me, or if it simply rushes into their head as quickly and surprisingly. It's hot, intense, and unpleasant.

I have this struggle with other emotions as well, even happiness! When I have fun, or get excited about something, it can very easily take me over and turn into hyperactivity and mania. Like my anger, if you've seen me during the past twelve years, you also know that when I am having fun, I can easily become very loud and annoying. Sometimes I even find enjoyment and fun to be unpleasant, because of its intensity, as well as how obnoxious I can be when expressing it.

So my normal approach is to avoid expressing it, and since that's been very difficult for me, I take it another step forward and avoid feeling it. "It" means... well, anything. I give people the impression that I'm a very analytical and calculating person, and in some ways I am. But it's mostly a compensation for my innate emotional intensity and impulsiveness.

Lately, I've realized that it just hasn't been enough, and that means trying to face those emotions head on without trying to run from them. I'm honestly worried that if I let myself get angry at all, then I'll throw another controller. I'm worried if I let my competitive drive surge up, then I'll get mean spirited. I'm worried that if I let myself get too excited or hyped up, I'll be a pain in the ass for the people around me.

Everything is a risk in some direction though, and if I want to keep growing as a person, then I will have to be able to experience those feelings and not let them overflow or control me. That means taking the chance that they will, and not being afraid to admit that I wasn't strong enough if I let them. Evo this year was an attempt to honestly let myself feel my competitive drive, give the game 100%, and keep it under control.

It was way more successful than I thought it would be. I tried to keep tabs on my general mindset and only turn things down if they started over-escalating. If I noticed thoughts creeping in, the kind that can easily spiral out of control and piss myself off, I tried to focus on the feeling that generated the thoughts, instead of just arguing with the thoughts themselves. That helped. Not only that, I tried to focus on being strong enough to contain the feeling, rather than trying to squash it, eliminate it, or deny it. That helped even more.

I lost to KJH in winner's bracket, and it felt bad, but not as bad as I thought it would. I didn't wobble him--so I guess from a strategic and tactical perspective I wasn't trying my hardest--but I tried to invest myself as much as possible in the moment-to-moment of the game, to feel my desire to win, not fear it. I got over the unhappiness with the loss pretty quickly, also faster than I thought. I honestly expected it to be the opposite, so that surprised me.

My next close and serious match was against Kalamazhu. In that one, I wobbled, and it was also less boring and intolerable than I thought. I think going into that match unafraid of my serious desire to win let me dull the minor annoyance of hitting the A button over and over. And something that was cool was that I found myself still landing some of the crazier conversions into my infinite, conversions based off the more elaborate (sometimes pointlessly elaborate) sequences that I've been messing with for the past couple years.

Most importantly though, at the end of game two (which he won), I started tilting a bit because of the matchup. I could hear some seriously salty voices running through my head. I took a bit of time to breathe in between games two and three. I didn't try to make the feelings go away, I just tried to be strong enough to withstand them.

Mind you, I did use some of my cognitive strategies once I was a little less agitated. One of my strongest ones has always been trying to see why something the other person did was good, or clever, or worth respecting, rather than just thinking "this matchup sucks." That helps me feel more competitive in a positive way. So it's not as though I ignored all the other strategies that I've been using over the years. I just tried to shift the emphasis to an emotional strength, rather than an emotional technique.

I felt the tilt fade quickly, and managed to win 2-1, then popped off a bit. Then I played Axe about two hours later and he bodied me, but that's fine. I got 33rd and managed to handle--effectively handle--the presence of those intense competitive emotions and keep things centered on the game. Then when I was out, I didn't feel like a bum.

Not only that, I had a lot more energy after I was out than I normally do. Usually, between the competitive stress and the endless social interaction, I just get really drained after my tournament is over. This time though, I was more disciplined about my sleep, when I ate, and what I ate, which had a major impact on how I felt. I joked on Twitter about how it kind of sucked to feel that good before a match, because then I didn't have any excuses ready for when I lost, but I think my willingness to face the whole thing with strength rather than being afraid of the emotions allowed me to prepare for everything directly.

I'm headed to Smash Con this weekend but I am not competing there, and afterwards I don't have plans to attend anything, but if I do, I am (most likely) going to give another shot at competition. This past weekend I felt like a much stronger and more disciplined person, and that meant a lot to me, so I'd like to keep pushing in that direction.

TL;DR: Evo was a huge personal success for me. I may write more in the future on the topic of being a stronger container for my emotion, but for now, I'll just leave things here. Thanks for reading!