My own journey

Third year: Breaching the comfort-zone

As I got started with what was supposed to be my final year of college, I made sure to dive even further into the experiences that were available to me, starting a season of capoeira with Brazilian teachers, which turned out to be a great start into acrobatics and using my body creatively, as well as being fun dancing and martial arts. I also joined the organizers of our institute's bi-annual 80-person LAN party, and used my experience from the other groups to guide the core of new students through a generational transition of leadership, while getting things well organized, I signed up as a Couchsurfing host, getting to discover my own city from a tourist's perspective alongside my surfers, and, upon seeing a major Danish role-playing con offer a scenario in the Battlestar Galactica setting, I decided it was also finally time for me to try my hand at game mastering at major public events, which also turned out to be both fun and liberating to see through.

I was extremely weary of school at this point though. It's pretty common for Danes to put off high school or college start for a few years to dabble a bit and build broader life experience first, whereas I had gone the straight path every step of the way and was now about to finish my bachelor. Despite having had to fight my way through a bureaucratic circus the previous semester, involving 4 helpful professors, 4 student councillors, three layers of administration and a clever legal loophole, to have the credit for my elective courses in game design formally acknowledged, I remained among the handful of people in my year to have passed every course so far, and I wanted to finish this year on schedule, so I could get started on becoming a game designer. I solved this by signing up for two introductory courses in topics where I had already learned more advanced material. While the plan of basically taking two months off was royally wrecked by one of my hand-ins getting caught in our professor's self-made spam filter, and me having to spend the next couple of months wrapped up in yet another bureaucratic struggle because he somehow took that as a personal affront and threw me off the course, the two courses (which was in theory stuff I knew, but as taught from the perspective of other main subjects) turned out to provide immensely accessible and practical tools for things that I'd initially been taught on a far more theoretical level.

My plan to coast through the final year crashed spectacularly during the second part of the semester though. As I was searching for a place to intern at as a game designer for a full semester, by combining a bachelor's project with an internship, I found that this option had quietly disappeared at some point during my studies, so that I would in any case have to extend my education with 6 months for my bachelor's project, if I didn't give up the internship that would be my foot in the door of the business. An occasional downside of studying at a high-level IT education is also that the course catalog is continually changing: For the second part of the semester, I had signed up for what seemed to be an exciting but challenging course on emulating physics on computers. This seemed a bit intimidating, but I had made sure to contact the course leader and had gotten his assurances that the physics were just formulas to be processed and that my mid-level high-school physics would be quite sufficient. Long story short, this was a tad inaccurate and I was now the only bachelor's student facing what turned out to be the attempt at reviving a course that was originally scrapped because 19 out of the 20 pHD- and master's students taking it had failed. Normally, I had always been able to fight my way through difficult courses because I knew I was capable of overcoming them, but now I had to come to terms with both the fact that any given paragraph of our 200 pages of weekly readings included at least 3 physics terms that I had no preconditions for understanding - as well as the fact that we had arbitrarily been allowed only 24 hours to work on each of our weekly assignments, so I couldn't power through. Eventually I had to face the fact that I was neglecting other things and letting myself get physically ill every week, without achieving much progress - and that succeeding every step of the way, no matter how ridiculous the obstacles, probably didn't need to be such a high priority for me, when I could just re-prioritize and design a more enjoyable and efficient path to my goal.

My process of learning seduction was still going on, and during this I found it very beneficial to expand my social awareness. Two of the resources I had been recommended were TypeTalk (.uk / .ca) and The Art of Speedreading People (.uk / .ca) on Myers-Briggs personality typing, which I've found to be one of the more useful perspectives on personality types (the first book is a bit more in-depth, the second is a more entertaining read, and provides more ways to visually spot the types). While it was fun to spend the first month or so internalizing the system, by trying to fit everything into categories, the true value was in simply becoming aware of so many different perspectives on the world, as well as motivations and methods for acting upon it and how they often related. I say often, because it quickly became apparent that it was limiting to attempt to fully fit someone or something to a particular label - rather I found it far more useful to consider people on a sliding scale in each of the 4 traits, with the most mature and developed people often tending towards the middle of each. The authors would also claim that one's type is determined at birth, but I quickly noticed that I possessed strengths (and occasionally weaknesses) from both ends of the spectrum, and had developed these over the course of my life, so I refused to accept that. Rather than taking on the limiting belief that my type forced certain weaknesses on me, I became aware and accepting of my most common inclinations and used the type map as damn good inspiration for both which challenges to look out for, as well which benefits of other perspectives I might want to a adopt and integrate.

Other fun experiences that expanded my awareness include:

At the same time, I had decided that I was living too much in my head in terms of learning seduction, and that I needed to apply it more. After Brad P's Fashion Bible had included a sample of his additional material, I became a fan of his style, which would use scripted material as training wheels to get started and then encouraged developing more natural and playful game. I joined his 30/30 Club, which is a one year program, providing new material every month, working from the basics up, and having the students commit to approaching 30 women every 30 days, to work on the latest material. While pickup material isn't my specialty, it's one of the most effective and comprehensive programs I know of, for those who want to go in that direction.

Simply approaching strangers on the street and striking up conversation seemed very transgressive to me, and since I wanted the freedom to play around and didn't want my mood to become too affected by negative outcomes in any particular conversation, it was important to me to make a game of it. I found a forum for people interested in pickup and picked out a fun person in the same situation as me, to just meet up, have fun and play around with it. It was a tough step to take, I had to rely on scripts initially and I had to allow myself to experiment and find the proper boundaries. That meant stepping on few people's toes, coming off as an asshole or even creeping a few women out along the way. But ultimately, I discovered I could take these interactions so much further than I had ever thought possible, and I wouldn't even have gotten through the first step, if I hadn't been aggressive enough to test out the boundaries and find a style I was comfortable with, for fear of offending a few strangers I would never see again anyway. While there are a lot of pitfalls and limiting beliefs in most pickup material, I would definitely recommend anyone who feels challenged with women to go through this process of just meeting women in the street, striking up conversation and testing out boundaries, taking them into silly stuff and playful banter. I didn't quite get to 30 approaches in my two nights out the first month, but I was a changed man with new possibilities and far less bound by social norms and limits. I kept on following Brad's program out of curiosity, though I didn't feel a need to become a pickup artist, so much as just an attractive man. Instead of forcing myself to continue going out and meeting women, I was just enjoying the ability to strike up conversations with passing women whenever I cared to - even if there were still quite a bit of nerves most of the time. It was enough of a start to continue developing a more naturally playful attitude, and form criteria and standards for the kinds of women I really wanted, leaning more back and having them come to me, rather than being the chaser.

At the same time I had also discovered Scot McKay's teachings and his excellent newsletter, which focus far more on developing the identity that naturally attracts women. Back then I was more focused on specific techniques, but he did truly reach me in terms of goal setting, and particularly in his mantras of never settling in relationships but instead becoming the man who deserves what I want. His advice, to go through a phase of dating multiple women while allowing yourself to become aware of what you truly want, really resonated with me, as I thought back to how I was never fully satisfied in my first relationship, because I did not know what I had given up on. By committing immediately, I had in truth settled for something that was convenient (or rather, the only thing that my frame of possibility allowed at the time) instead of something that I knew to be what I truly wanted, in one of the most important areas of my life - and I knew how unfulfilling that had been. And so, even while I was in truth still rather desperate in my dating life and hadn't had much success since my first relationship, I also committed to not entering a relationship without being upfront about my wish to keep it non-exclusive at first.

The internship period came and I had found a 9 week game design internship at NDS games, which was in the business of producing many smaller games for set-top boxes, to be released by better known companies (Cartoon Network, Disney etc.) and played with a remote control on a TV. This produced special constraints in that we were mostly designing for children, and that our games had to run on 15-year old hardware that, even back then, had been far inferior to PCs (2 MB RAM etc.).
  Their good intentions to include me turned out to crash spectacularly from the very beginning, when the project I was intended to work on was put on hold indefinitely.This was a blessing in disguise though, as a new Scooby Doo project for Cartoon Network had just been approved and the sole designer on it was playing around with a complex idea that he could use some help prototyping. I had it done within the day, and got scooped by on the project as prototyper and co-designer, even if we wound up scrapping the actual idea once we'd been able to playtest it. I enjoyed brainstorming, bouncing feedback and testing with the lead designer and met a lot of exciting people in the business. I also made full use of the fact that, as an intern, I wasn't ever really expected to be a resource in the first place, so rather than working a tight schedule on design exclusively, this gave me opportunities to lend a hand to testers, programmers and project managers, and actually form some clue about the areas that I might be expected to tie together in a future design position.

During this period I also started getting in better shape: It was really the first time I experienced the web-of-trust model I describe for self-help programs, as I had happened upon Daniel Rose of Sex God Method, who among his advise advocated getting in shape and boosting testosterone levels to improve sex and attraction even further. Daniel recommended Vince Del Monte for this, and like many of the best programs I've come across, he was able to take a subject I knew little about and show me how it was far easier than I had ever thought possible. I had seen people seemingly working out 20+ hours a week for years on end with minimal gains to show for it, and never felt a need to prioritize such effort. When I instead discovered that it would be easy to develop a muscular body within a few months and maintain it with less than an hour of effort a week, it suddenly just seemed like a fun thing to do. The key to this was in the food, which meant that much of the learning process was actually in just being aware of how food affected my body and playing around with mixing those ingredients in new ways. While I eat a bit more nowadays to stay in shape, this process taught me to make far tastier and more diverse food, while also optimizing the process to cook it as lazily as possible.

I followed a chain out from Vince's recommended products, reading a ton of material and refunding the stuff that didn't offer me additional insights - making the efficiency of the process even more of a hobby than the actual workouts. Initially I just went with the basic products, enjoying getting to learn how to use the equipment (which did add an hour or so to each workout for the first couple of weeks) and squeezing in a 2-hour workout every 2-3 days, so I always had a muscle group building from my heavy food intake. Along with discovering new ways to eat, I devoted 10-15 hours a week for two months to quickly build up a far more muscular body, but I only really started seeing reactions from my environment when I also spent a month stripping away the excess body fat, so the muscles were more apparent. I tried out something far more insane than strictly necessary for that purpose, though I'll admit it was fun and motivating to be able to visually see my results each day. In retrospect, the whole process could have been made even easier, but building a great and maintainable body was very motivating, now that I had the methods to progress at a speed where I could easily see my gains, and I enjoyed going at it with pretty high intensity for 3 months. The visual gains were a primary motivation and it definitely paid off in that regard, but I also noticed that having a body virtually devoid of excess fat worked wonders for my posture, reflexes and coordination. I was simply able to trust my instincts far better in any physical pursuit, and also enjoyed the hormonal changes, that made it far easier to act from a confident masculine state.

As much as I enjoyed the work at NDS, this internship made me aware of how a full-time job would make me a lot less flexible in the time I used for my self development. That faced me with quite a dilemma: All along, I had been intensely focused on just finishing my formal education and becoming a game designer ASAP. This dream now seemed realistic to achieve by age 22, but I had also discovered how much I had been neglecting aspects of my life that were both proving to be valuable for me as an employee but also for building my long-term happiness in life. As I examined my motivations more deeply, I made the realization that my driving purpose in life wasn't merely to become a game designer, but to create fantastic experiences for myself and others - and that becoming a game designer was just one way of going about that. I had developed a great deal since originally setting that goal, and had now become a person who was currently living that purpose even more passionately through the experiences I was creating on stage and for new students, in my teaching, in the events that I organized, the hobby games that I occasionally made and in the many new pursuits that I undertook. Leaving these pursuits wasn't the right thing for me at this point in my life. Following this revelation, I instead allowed these developments to become my deliberate emphasis: I would stay on board for a full master's degree, using the opportunity to take a lot more game design courses and slow my studies to a part-time effort, taking these years to more passionately live my purpose and pursue the parts of my life that were letting me grow at such a rapid pace.

As the internship came to an end, I stayed on with NDS for an extra week of volunteer work to see the project through, and, on the day of my intended departure, was offered an opening as a programmer, by an unrelated project lead, who had spotted that their intern had been uploading changes to the code. I wasn't particularly looking for a job, but they could use the help and I only had one course in the upcoming 9 weeks, so I seized upon the opportunity to further familiarize myself with the work in the trenches as a programmer, while porting and localizing 3 projects on their backlog.

I continued my hobby pursuits with a passion, experiencing both new challenges and rewards: Finding that I really enjoyed one of the subjects that were considered to be among the most challenging of our study (consistently a catastrophic 20-35% pass rate for a mandatory first-year course) and that I was already going to help a couple of friends among the new students I'd tutored for, I decided to, on my own initiative, make a volunteer lecture that aimed to give the intuitive overview of ~70% of the curriculum within 3 hours, so the professors' deeper and less pedagogical approach would hopefully make a lot more sense. I was shocked to find 35 students eager for my advice and happy to see the pass rate go up dramatically to ~50%. I have no clue how much of that was my own achievement, as parts of the course structure were changed the same year, but I found myself with a lot of grateful students after the exams, and have enjoyed repeating the volunteer effort on following years with similarly good results and even greater attendance.
  The cabaret came yet again, with fresh challenges and new advances in my singing - this time also giving me the opportunity to gain experience as a director. A female friend of mine recruited me as a cheerleader ("You need more men to throw around the girls? Sure, that's silly *and* awesome - I'm game.") which was also great fun and turned out to be excellent for my physical shape. I became a core part of my tutor team this year, as we created the best introduction trip I had ever heard of. The Croat parts of my online guild wanted to share in our social events but couldn't afford the flights and so invited us for a great meeting in Southern Europe, where I could kick back and enjoy their hospitality. I even got around to trying out the famed Roskilde Festival for the first time, though I quickly found that the concerts didn't attract me nearly as much as just hanging out with the groups of friends I randomly encountered there. It did lead me to meeting an exciting woman though:

Aside for an encounter that had turned into a one-night-stand, when I tried to play the followup by the pick-up book rather than being my congruent self, it had been 18 months of development before I actually started experiencing success in my dating life. Sure, part of this was because I'd continually been raising my standards one step ahead of my skillset and identity, but it was a huge relief to let go of part of the desperation and poverty mentality in this area of my life, and also experience a relationship from the point of being able to awaken a woman's sexuality and feeling truly desired. This was the first time I entered into a relationship with the clear understanding that it wasn't to be exclusive at first - this part turned out surprisingly easy to have women agree to when it was a clear condition from the start. She'd struck me as a high self-esteem woman who had simply been knocked off course by disease at an unfortunate point in her life, and could use a hand in getting back on track. I enjoyed some good experiences with her but came to realize that my initial reading was off and that she had work to do on herself to find her own course and truly feel she deserved the good things life had to offer.

Even as I was coming to those realizations, and had been dating her for a few weeks, I met another exciting woman at a major LARP scenario. I didn't notice her much initially, as she'd been rather closed, but she grew attracted to me over the 5 days, and I had become a person who was able to correctly interpret the subtle signals of her interest and act on them. While she understood that this was not to be an exclusive relationship at first, it only took one additional date with each woman to realize that it was unfair to go on seeing the previous one as I simply didn't feel for her as powerfully, and couldn't be fully mentally present with her. I ended that, though not as gracefully as I would have liked, as I basically stopped following up on the dates we'd been having for a month or so.

I connected with this new woman on a level that I hadn't previously, in any relationship, and loved the fact that she was a casual tomboy and genuine geek: I thought I had been content in previous relationships, but when a typical date might now consist of pen and paper role-playing (I'd joined her group), followed by massaging each other in front of Futurama, playing a couple of video games and having hot sex way into the night, I realized how much I loved being able to share my hobbies and passions in a relationship, and how happy I was to have set on a journey that let this become my reality. I was able to grow as a person and start leading to an even greater extent (particularly since it was her first relationship, though she was a couple of years older than me), while making sure to keep on seducing her and keeping her intensely attracted every step of the way. I loved this sense of power and freedom and enjoyed sharing some of the happiest experiences of my life with her, even as I was still working to develop myself and grow as a man.

Next up: Fourth year: New standards

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