When I turned 39 I decided I wasn’t going to think of my birthday in terms of ageing anymore; no more ‘years old’. Each birthday is graduating to a new level. Maybe it’s because I’m from the first wave of Millennials and we embraced video gaming as a lifestyle choice and for some, gaming is even a career.
Maybe it’s because I have finally realised that ageing, like many things, is a social construct. We do physically gain time on planet Earth with each rotation around the sun, but beyond that anything ascribed to “getting older” is just a rule made up by humans. So I am changing my rules.
I spent so many younger levels wanting to be a grown up, thinking women should act a certain way.
Recently I levelled up to 40. I have reached what they call “middle age”. I am meant to take my child to soccer practice and wear activewear according to all the mummy blogs and TV shows; be wiser and more dignified. Instead I levelled up, I broke the rules and applied childish rebellion. I posted a picture in my underwear to Instagram like someone at level 19 is expected to. Women my age are not expected to do that.
And then I posted a picture with a teddy bear and my sister asked me if that was the kind of thing I wanted to be doing at 40. Yes, it is. I spent so many younger levels wanting to be a grown up, thinking women should act a certain way. My internalised misogyny stopped me exploring all the cute playful things so now I’m playing catch up.
I’m not a “gamer” in strict terms, but I’ve certainly dabbled in some game play. And now I’m applying gaming concepts to my levelling-up lifestyle.
I got married and divorced (all before level 30), and had a baby at level 31.
Formative years playing games like Dungeons & Dragons means I see levelling up as a time to “+ wisdom”. I know as I get further along in the game of life, say towards level 60 I might start losing health. If I focus on collecting hearts it will enrich my life and health, but collecting coins might make the mission easier.
Where to now in this game of life? I feel like I’ve ticked off so many achievements, some well before many other players on this platform.
Migrating to Australia meant acquiring a new language in my early levels and what a dice roll of an adventure my late teens and early 20s were.
I got married and divorced (all before level 30), and had a baby at level 31. I went back to uni at level 35 and gained intelligence although, to be honest, I probably could have done it better.
Middle age no longer exists for me, and old age is out the window. I am henceforth just embracing the life stages before me, carefully gathering tools and skills to help me for my final battle. I’ll inevitably eventually lose the game, but I am okay with that as long as my mission and game play were fun.
Nadine Chemali is a freelance writer. You can follow her on Twitter here.