Most of my mornings start off with me in the warm comfort of my blanket-and-pillow-nest, unwilling to get up and face the cold. Which usually translates to me slacking off on my phone for about 30 minutes to an hour, before dragging myself from my den and into the world. I cycle through a bunch of apps, like WordPress (gotta keep up with all my favorite blogs of course) and a shot of social media on Insta/Facebook.
After that I dive into my guilty pleasure: phone games. Lords of Mobile is usually up first – seeing as I gots to get my farm on. After that it’s a bit of June’s Journey (search-and-find game) to boot up my brain and memory, the daily level on Blockudoku, a bit of Pokemonning and then I fall into the mindnumbing drone of a round or 5 of Candy Crush. And as I FINALLY managed to complete a level I’d been stuck on for a while this morning – a candy covered realization hit me (that actually happens a lot, I could write entire series on the life’s wisdoms I found through playing Candy Crush).
Because, you see, the thing about Candy Crush is that it doesn’t take much to win. Barely anything, actually. It’s the type of game you’ll start, take 10 levels to get the hang of the mechanics and then you just play, and play, and play. There’s no intricate new tactics to learn. No skill-levels to raise. You don’t have to practice to get better and there’s no secret methods to defeat any and all levels in one go. The fact that I’m currently at level 5015 (!!!) of that damn game is not in any way accredited to my exceptional skill – but mostly just to the sheer amount of time spent playing it.
But I still get stuck. Even after all this time, I still come across levels that I seemingly can’t finish for a try or 10. Or 100. Or sometimes for weeks on end. They’re not designed to be easy. Hell – some even have intimidating skulls indicating their nightmarish dread-level. Yet the key to finally completing levels like those is a truth that I see reflected in my day to day life as well: it’s a matter of determination, endurance and the correct allocation of internal resources.
The mere fact that you get stuck in levels not for a lack of skill, not for a lack of competence or for a lack of luck – is very similar to life. Because in every first attempt at a new level – I’ll ‘just‘ play it. Arrange the candy in the easiest of ways and see how the requirements to complete the level tie into the playing field. And oftentimes it is that lack of focus that has my moves run out before I meet the requirements.
In any following attempt I’ll reshift my focus. I’ll put more effort in striving to different kinds of moves – I’ll make different choices to adapt more towards reaching the specific required goal instead of just moving some candy around. And every time I have to replay a level – I get better at that specific part of the game. It’s not a skill that carries on into other parts of that game, but is specifically honed for that level. The things I do for that 1 level out of 5000 are still the same as the moves I’ll use in every other level, but I’ll string them together differently. I’ll keep that specific goal in mind and allocate my internal resources to meet it.
Similarly, in life, I might come across new challenges. Things I haven’t done before, tried before or seen before – but are still very rarely ‘new’. Sure, like in Candy Crush, every so often an entirely ‘new’ element will be introduced, but on the whole the mechanics of life and everything in it remain the same throughout our lives.
It’s always going to be ‘me at home’, ‘me at school’, ‘me at work’, ‘me with family’, ‘me with friends’, ‘me at a hobby’, ‘me at a sport’ etc. etc. The configurations might vary but the basic elements are always the same sort of building blocks. Which means that right from the start of our cognisant lives (I’m counting out the parts where we’re just toddlering around) we’re equipped to complete all of the ‘levels’ life throws at us.
But we can’t (and shouldn’t) expect to be able to finish each and every one of them on that first try. That’s unrealistic. And unnecessary. Even the bestest of the best Candy Crushers will not breeze through every single level. There’s a lot of fun in replaying levels and seeing yourself improve towards a goal on every attempt.
Just because you don’t get something completely right that first time around, doesn’t mean you don’t (already) have what it takes to make it through the level – because just like in Candy Crush: we have everything we need in our arsenal to make it to the very end – we just need to adapt our focus and allocate the correct resources in the correct ways to make it to those endgoal requirements.
And just like every level in Candy Crush is similar-yet-slightly-different so will every ‘new’ phase in our life also follow along those line. All you have to do is figure out how you can use what you already have and know to make it to where you want to be. And in the meantime…try try try again.