Lies. Half-truths. Exaggerations. Omissions. Alterations. We all have said something at some point in our lives that had at least some part of it falsified; either to impress our friends, avoid getting in trouble, or feel better about ourselves. There was this one lie I told to everyone I knew for four years of my life that constantly nagged at the back of my mind. Why was I so afraid to tell the truth? What would everyone think of me? Would they laugh? Yell? Scream? It started with my parents. Then my friends. Then the counselors. Come on. Just tell them. What does it matter anyways? What was I so afraid of? Until one day I decided I was ready to take control of my life and start living towards the things I wanted to as opposed to how everyone expected. “Mom… I don’t want to go to college.”
There. I said it. I do not want to go to college. “You can be anything you want to be when you grow up” is in fact the biggest lie we tell children in America. Because unfortunately you ALL can’t be the president. None of you can be Superman. And the odds of any single person in this metaphorical room in which I am giving this speech growing up to become the next Michael Jordan are the odds I roll this six sided die and it comes up heads. So instead chasing the dreams we have as children we confine ourselves to a college education in which we spend too much money to learn that perhaps a bachelor’s of macroeconomics isn’t exactly what we wanted to do for the rest of our lives.
A die has six sides. Three of them even numbers, and three of them odd. A fifty-fifty chance of getting heads or tails. I used to play the Pokemon trading card game competitively but stopped when I was around 17 as my love for the game started to fade away be it from losing interest in the game, finally growing out of it, or just not having the money to keep up, But when you played sometimes you would be required to flip a coin, if the coin landed on heads this would happen, and if the coin landed on tails this would happen. A coin has two sides. A fifty-...fifty chance. So to avoid people cheating by flipping coins in unfair manners or using advantageously waited coins we rolled dice. Even numbers were heads. Odd numbers were tails. So now the odds of someone in this room being the next Michael Jordan when I roll this dice and having it come up heads just went from 0% to a 50-50 shot. It’s all about perspective.
“So what is it you want to do instead?” My mom asked me, Stopping to breath for a moment thinking Oh god what is she going to say… “I want to move in with Dad and spend the next year following my dream and my passion of becoming a League of Legends professional player.” You see, I moved around a lot. Both my biological dad and my step-dad served in the Air-Force and this meant moving was a pretty normal thing. Before my parents split up I had lived in Utah for seven years, after their divorce queue the moving van every 12 months requiring me to pack all my things into boxes and settle into a new school just to be told I am moving again as soon as I got comfortable. So as I settled into my new house in Colorado Springs I opened up my computer and decided I wanted to try and find some game to play. Years before I had heard about this online game called “League of Legends” that after not knowing how to work downloads as a twelve year old had moved on from and forgotten, Deciding to give it a try this time around I downloaded it, and began playing.
I don’t remember much of the early days when I started playing. But something I quickly learned was that this game was much more than something I would end up playing when I got home from school as a way to procrastinate away responsibilities and use as an excuse to not walk the dog. I quickly found a love for playing what is known as the “Jungling” role in the game in which you kill neutral creatures for gold and exp as opposed to the normal aspect of what is called “laning” in which you focus on a specific lane of the map. Through jungling I was able to help my team by providing assistance, vision, and control the game's boss-like epic monsters that teams would fight over to gain various advantages. Of course as with any competitive online game you want to be better than the people you are playing against so I took it upon myself to look into how to do so. After reading through countless guides on how to play specific characters and watching YouTube videos explaining in detail the different aspects of the game I stumbled across the livestreaming platform Twitch.tv.
Twitch.tv is like television for videogames. You go to their website and a list of the most popular games being played comes up, and after clicking on the game game you wish to watch you get a list of the most popular streamers (akin to television channels) that you want to watch. These streamers would usually be just one guy sitting in front of his computer with a webcam recording himself playing the game. Through in some music and the ability to make a witty joke every now and again and bam, you have a livestreamer. So after watching other people play the game and commentate themselves it proved to be a very helpful tool in improving as you were able to see what someone was doing and understand exactly why they were doing it. And then one weekend everything changed. The number one stream was something titled the “League of Legends Championship Series” or simply abbreviated: LCS.
The LCS is a ten man league run by the videogames developer Riot Games in which they host teams in their studio to play out professional matches every weekend very similar to your traditional stick and ball sports. Each team consisting of five players (one for each position) would play against the other in a 28 game season culminating in the top eight teams going to playoffs ending with a champion being crowned. This was called esports, and it would be something that over my next four years in high school would grow beyond anything anyone could imagine. Among the top of the scoreboard were team’s such as “Team Solo Mid” “Counter Logic Gaming” and my soon to be favorite team “Cloud 9.”
Cloud 9 were a new addition to league that split after beating out “Team Marn” in the promotion tournament. Upon entering the competitive stage they took the league by storm putting up an impressive 25-3 record and becoming one of the most dominate teams in the game's history. I don’t remember why I liked them first, either it being because they were the first team I saw play, they were one of the best, or if it was for the players on the team. However I quickly grew to be a big fan of the team’s jungle player William “Meteos” Hartman. He played the same role I did and I took a lot of inspiration from watching him play his unmatched efficient “Farm until I have more gold and experience than anyone else in the game and win” style in which he played a champion called “Nasus” whom I had already been playing for quite some time. Looking around their website I found out it was possible to order a hoodie from their store. It was a simple white zip up hoodie, and over the left side chest was a small blue cloud made out of the numbers 9. This hoodie would prove to be much more important to my life than I could have possibly realized at the time.
“Hey, is that a Cloud 9 shirt? Do you play League of Legends?” a voice from behind me while I was in my freshman year civics class. This was how I made my first friend. His name is (for the purpose of this writing) Bill and he continues to this day to be one of my closest friends who pushes me to improve the most and is always there to listen when I need to talk. He would later introduce me to my now best friend (who as well, for the purpose of this writing) Joe, who is super nerdy like I am and we both have extremely similar sense of humor. These two people would show me something I hadn’t really had in a long time since all my moving and that is true genuine friendship. And that is not to say we haven’t had our fair share of arguments with one another but that is all a part of the ride. These two people mean more to me than anyone else in the world as they allow me to be myself, make jokes, share my pain, and inspire me to chase my dream. I wish to have gone into more detail here about them but it is hard to find words that properly convey the gratitude I have them. And it was all because I decided to buy some hoodie online. It's been four long years, but I will never forget watching that YouTube video in civics titled “One Does Not Simply Gank Xpecial” alongside Bill the first day we met. But finally, what does it mean to me to chase my dreams, and why is it so important that my two friends help me realize them?
A team in League of Legends consists of five people. In a league with ten teams and rules that allow any team to import up to two players from different regions that leaves a grand total of thirty available spots left for a North American player to find their place on a team. Being one of the top thirty players at anything is hard enough, so sometimes it is hard to stay motivated and want to improve. It is always easier to blame others for our shortcomings right? Because both Bill and Joe play the game they are always able to keep me in check with my expectations and call me out on my mishaps and excuses. They keep me honest to myself and it is thanks to them that I am able to keep focused on improvement as opposed to just blaming others for my lack of skill. Additionally my parents still find it hard to believe in what it is I dream of. My dad who I am moving in with understands it the most, he watches the LCS with me from time to time whenever Cloud 9 plays and occasionally he will sit down and watch a Counter-Strike: Global Offensive tournament with me. My mom on the other hand has no clue what it is I am trying to do and that is something I have struggled with ever since my parents divorce. I find it hard to be close to my mom with anything and always feel secluded and pressured whenever it comes to talking to her about my feelings or what I want to do. We have had our share of arguments and issues but while things have been really well lately it is still hard to really connect with her. I hope to one day bring her out to California to watch me play live on stage and maybe then she will finally see what it is I have been dreaming off these last four years.
Now excuse me while I step down off my soapbox here. All joking aside I believe that following your dreams is an important part of life, and that everyone should give theirs a chance no matter how big or how small. Not everyone has the luxury I have been given, but it is has always been my philosophy that I would rather follow my dreams and end up homeless in the process than sit comfortably in a suit confined within a cubicle, knowing that if I ended up homeless and starving I did so off the path chasing my dream. It is scary not knowing what the future brings and giving up the security of school and a safe known future has never been my goal. Everyone in life should have a passion, and with that passion should come ambition. Find your passion, and define your goal. It makes life much more interesting. This started off as a prompt about lying in my creating writing class but got quite cathartic in the process to talk about so consider this a formal apology for letting my mind run wild, deinde usque ad tempus.