As a child, I had a pretty wild imagination that was nurtured by parents who’d find me regularly sneaking off to the aisles of storybooks at supermarkets by the time I was 3 years old and was able to recognise letters and short phrases. This had, somehow, gotten me into a lot of trouble over the next few years, with one memorable experience of walking to a convenience store 30 minutes away by foot, unattended by any adult at the tender age of 8 in search for “an adventure”. (I still cringe at how rightfully aggrieved my mother was at my actions almost two decades later.)
Cynical as I can be, I’m also an escapist, through and through. Sometimes there’s nothing better than being able to easily run away to other realities with the flip of a page or the way you get lost in a video game and how music and movies are like integral parts of your being. I constantly look for the next great escape when life gets a little too difficult to deal with, and usually, I have a pretty good grip on my own self-control. A few hours at most and I’ll be recharged enough to handle the rest of the day’s responsibilities.
But every now and then, it’s a lot harder to pry myself away from the books and the movies and TV shows, and that’s when it becomes a case of having too much of a good thing.
Perhaps you’re even procrastinating right now (like I’ve been doing so since beginning this article an hour ago), and that’s fine. That’s kind of okay, but that’s far from great, and that’s what happens when you’re stuck in the rut of escapism with virtual worlds for company while your like starts to deteriorate, bit by bit around you. Your productivity begins to hit a new low, you can’t be bothered to deal with social relationships and the only reason you’re still at work is because you kind of need a roof over your head and food in your stomach.
Trust me, I’ve been there. Seasoned escapist, right here.
The thing that one needs to understand about escapism is that it is not inherently bad; it stimulates the mind and you need a well-deserved break every so often from your responsibilities, but it’s almost too easy to allow it to consume your thoughts on a twenty-four-seven basis, just because it’s that good. And when that happens, it’s less of a break and more of just outright avoiding life itself.
It’s a scarily efficient defense mechanism because it’s so subtle; everyone likes entertainment of some form, right? What’s so wrong about indulging in a book after midnight sometimes? Why should you judge me for my impressive library of movies and Korean dramas? But entertainment is a lucrative industry that thrives on the idea that people just can’t deal with life and would rather see other people living fictional lives in order to stop thinking about their own for a period of time.
But honestly, it’s all a moot point because escapism is a temporary retreat that will eventually be interrupted by the fact that you’ll have to deal with your problems and responsibilities, whether it’s as simple as a homework that’s due tomorrow or some deeply rooted issue that’s been bothering you for a while. Because running away is always going to be easier than standing still in the face of your struggles, but there’s only so much land you can cover before you find your way back at the root of your problem.
And I won’t say it’s easy, because it may not be. It certainly isn’t for me, every time I find myself backing off into a corner instead of confronting the issues head on. But what matters is the fact that I’ve kept trying to come back, and that’s the thing we need to remember. That it is a trial, and through trials we grow and we become a better person, and sometimes life can even seem sweeter than any other reality we could choose to run away to.