11th grade: ten years of schooling, with less than two years of high school left - yet with college looming ahead. So much time spent on learning yet so little accomplished, so much wandering yet so few stones unturned - potential unused, brains confused. Many are tired, tired of late nights, tired of work, tired of pushing themselves so hard yet with no end - hearing it said to read it all, writing it down to lose it all, cramming it in to forget it all; that is the routine, that is the cycle, moving on to another day, tired, lost, unwilling and unmotivated. Long days, short nights; sleepy days, sleepless nights; but the student continues, trekking along, spirit broken, heart distressed.

Yet I’m in another field, tired not from overworking, but from being under-respected. Like when acquaintances come to me for an answer to some - probably academic - question, or for help on some problem, I try my best to fulfill their request, and I enjoy doing it, but when it’s all done, they never come back until they need it again. I’m here, not as a person but as a machine, a machine that helps people, demanding nothing in return. Disheartened? Yes, discouraged that people can be so mean so subtly, knocking themselves down on some scale of kindness; but I have faith that many care about me just a bit, but few care about me a lot - being at least reciprocatory. May I be blaming others for my own faults? Definitely - the shy kid impression probably discourages many from getting to know me. But all I look for, but I rarely find, is someone that notices, someone that notices that I’m not a flat, bland character, that don’t want to sulk at home, knowing that I’m less anxious with those I don’t know when I’m online than when I’m alone. It is becoming a case of having “3 years in industry” - where the in crowd requires newcomers to be in the in crowd, a self-destroying desire - since all stars start from dust.

If there’s one pet peeve I’d like to throw out there, it is the impression that I am smart, possibly to the point where I’m subconsciously snobby about it. I would have to first throw out there that I resent the measuring stick used by many to measure intelligence, and that I’m tired of such comparisons. I know my weaknesses and my strengths beyond the gradebook or the transcript, and such simplifications are probably demoralizing to those who make them, because I certainly don’t have the breadth of experiences that fellow students have had. Possibly it is the conditioning of culture and the school system, pushing students away from learning and pursuing their own dreams toward the model student - the one who does as told and gets the best marks. You try, you fail, you learn, you go on, to the next problem, because if life was a series of tests, only the test makers would live, because the most poorly phrased questions would be slanted towards the least informed test-taker. Learning is much more rewarding if you learn out of love.

A lonely passion - a desire to pursue, to understand, the underexplored or the underappreciated - or simply a walk down a slightly off-beat road with no friends and no guidance, is tiring. It is tiring in that there is no understanding by foreigners, no compassion by even the most interested friends, because it is a love for the unknown. I’ve been programming on and off for a long time now, and I’ve gotten to where I am today, which is where I wanted to be a year ago, but after 3+ rewrites, 3000+ lines of scrapped code, countless failed tries and numerous broken pieces, I’m where I am now on a single, bold project. Three languages, three games, three years spent becoming experienced in the inexperienced.

I’m putting out what I’ve done so people understand the process, because I shouldn’t be expecting others to be sympathetic when I don’t even tell the story to be sympathetic to. I shouldn’t think that people understand the brevity, the complexity, and what it means to me, because most have not gone so far alone, with so little support, powered only by self-motivation. I have confidence in my coding skills but no story to show it, until now. It is an issue of misinformation, of rumors and of impressions, because I’m not a jack of all trades in the computer world, nor am I an all-knowing guru. As writers and artists may be familiar with, a project as large as the one I’m pursuing - a 2d game engine in Java - is always a learning process, a perpetual side-project, never done because it is not a product, but a compounding of knowledge.

What is it for? It is for me for now, until someone is interested in utilizing it, which is why I have a demo of sorts. It is a platform for creativity, a foundation for me or another game developer to build upon, to turn into a game. Why? Because after writing a few games, it becomes more repetitive than fun; less interesting to complete and more tiring to write. I’m still working on it, but not as fervently as when I started - I’ve taken a more experience approach by now - it’s better to take one step forward each week than to take three blind steps forward and hope to get back to where I started.

From what I’ve heard about what I’ve written, some students are turned off by the freedom, the sandbox gameplay. This in and of itself is pretty substantial evidence for the death of creativity. There is no competition, there are no enemies to fight, no tough levels to overcome, just freedom to restrict one, to draw the boundaries and create your own story. Maybe I’m just obsessed with open-endedness or maybe I just like playing with what I’ve done or maybe not everyone has seen everything that’s possible. In the end, programming is just what I like to do and my project is just what I’ve done, and I have realized that a painting becomes more meaningful when it has context, and my own reluctance to tell it has resulted in the drawing of a divide between my own feelings and the shallow context I had given that has resulted in similarly shallow comments and views by others.

I’ll still help others, but I’ve learned to say no, I still recognize that it is better for someone to teach themselves at least once than for them to be taught to forever, one day one has to learn on their own - there are still stones to turn over and stars to travel to.