In 1994, a board game called Crossfire made its debut. The only thing more amazing than the game was the television commercial for the game. First, there’s a board that’s on fire. Then a man’s voice growls, “It’s some time in the future…” One kid flies in on a lightning bolt, another kid floats down from the sky. They are both standing on hoverboards.
“The ultimate challenge!”
They fly onto the game board and face off. One kid is wearing a black leather jacket.
The board appears from a lightning bolt, and the kids start going freaking nuts, firing these guns that rocket metal ammunition onto the board. There’s bullet sound, more lightning bolts, and then the hit theme song starts:
Crossfire, you get caught in the…crossfire,
Crossfire, you get caught in the…crossfire,
Crossfire, crossfire, CROSS FIREEEEEE!
The kid who loses gets disappeared, and the leather jacket boy raises his fist in victory, and says, “Yah! Yah!” And then the narrator says, “Crossfire, you’ll get caught up in it.”
I did get caught up in it. I had dreams about flying into an arena on a hoverboard, armed with a leather jacket and an orange gun. All I wanted was to play this game. Fast forward a small amount of time, and I’m still a small child at my cousin’s house, and he started listing off things we could do. I don’t remember any of the suggestions, because all I heard when he said “and we have Crossfire” was “your life starts now.” Who was I, that I was presented with this gift? What had I done to deserve this?
“It’s not that great.”
“Not that great?! Ha! Have you seen the commercial?!”
“I’ve played the game.”
We put a handful of metal marbles into a glorified plastic ramp, and pulled a trigger, trying to hit two pieces of plastic in the middle. There was no lightning. No music. No narrator. No hoverboards. Beyond the disappointment and disillusionment, there was a loss of innocence. I learned that people lie to you in order to get you to buy things, and I learned not to trust commercials. Ok, I know that’s a long intro. Stick with me.
I had my pilot reading last Saturday. Essentially, it’s the first episode of a TV show that I wrote, and that we (me and six friends) read in front of an audience. While we were reading it, people weren’t doing a lot of LOL-ing or ROFL-ling or LMFAO-ing at things that I wrote, which started to get disappointing. My thoughts went downhill fast: hm, thought they’d like that. Yeah, that line doesn’t work. Yeah, actually this was stupid. It was stupid to try this. I am stupid in general. This is a dumb event, I’m a huge failure, I’m bad at everything, I should never do this again, and you know what, everybody freaking sucks…and I actually hate everyone and I don’t even care.
To be clear, my readers did a fantastic job. It was my expectations that got in the way. I remember playing songs at an open mic and missing a chord, thinking, I’m never going to do this ever again. After doing stand up once, I was disappointed I didn’t kill at it. Sometimes when I write a blog post and put it on the internet and it doesn’t resonate with everyone in the world, I think, alright, time to cross off writing from the list.
I think that’s the devil talking. In the book I’m reading called The Artist’s Way, you call that voice “the Censor.” The book also says that we’re amazing at forgetting every bit of good feedback we’ve ever received, and we’re experts at turning that good feedback into accusations and reasons why not.
“Ahem. You’re not good at this. Do what you know you should be doing, which is to stop fooling around and get a real job. This will never amount to anything. Also, Youuuu suck! ya Jackass! Ahhahaha” …But I already have a real job!
The book also talks about being okay with not being amazing right away. Where do I get these expectations that I should deliver a flawless product on my first go? I don’t know. Oh! Yes I do: comparison. I hear about seven-year-olds who are writing novels, high school buddies who got their screenplay turned into a movie, Harrison Ford who got picked for Han Solo while working as a carpenter, and so on. I’m not them. Neither are you. Unless you’re Harrison Ford, in which case, I loved you in Six Days Seven Nights.
I’m at my word limit, and I’m late sending this in, and I’m starting to ramble, so the thing I’m focusing on right now is managing my expectations. I knew, deep down that Crossfire wouldn’t come with hoverboards, but I was still devastated when it didn’t.
Bart Tocci (’11) lives in Boston where he writes essays, performs at open mics, and threatens to start taco restaurants. He’s been told that he looks like the kind of guy who stands up for what’s right. And who goes to the store before the party. Read more here: barttocci.wordpress.com