Life Will Change: How Persona 5 Helped Me

Persona is a game se­ries that means a lot to many dif­fer­ent peo­ple. Originally split­ting from the Shin Megami Tensei se­ries, Persona 1, known as Revelations: Persona was re­leased in 1996 and has con­tin­ued to be a sta­ple JRPG se­ries for many fans of the genre. The most re­cent ad­di­tion to the se­ries re­leased in 2017, Persona 5, has been a smash hit, re­ceiv­ing mas­sive crit­i­cal ac­claim and love from Persona fans and non‐fans alike. The game has be­come some­what of a cul­tur­al icon, es­pe­cial­ly due to Joker, the main char­ac­ter, be­ing the first DLC char­ac­ter re­leased in Super Smash Bros. Ultimate. Many peo­ple have found a love for Persona 5 for a va­ri­ety of rea­sons, my­self in­clud­ed. Playing Persona 5 be­came part of my dai­ly rou­tine af­ter I bought it dur­ing a Black Friday sale, and it had a re­al­ly pos­i­tive in­flu­ence on me in ways I wasn’t ex­pect­ing.

Routines can be great. There’s a cer­tain com­fort in a rou­tine that can help any­one con­quer their day to day life suc­cess­ful­ly. We es­tab­lish rou­tines as kids, like do­ing our home­work at cer­tain times, when to brush our teeth or even bed­times. Once we get old­er though, some­times these rou­tines can be­come de­struc­tive. Sometimes those rou­tines are so fa­mil­iar and so com­fort­able, that we don’t no­tice the neg­a­tive im­pact they have on our life.

Having that one ex­tra drink af­ter a hard day or that ex­tra cook­ie af­ter din­ner can be­come a bad habit, and that’s a hard habit to break once it be­comes part of your com­fort­able rou­tine. Sometimes, you need to be snapped out of those com­fort­able, de­struc­tive habits. During a time in my life where my rou­tine be­came com­fort­ably de­struc­tive, I had a wake­up call in the form of a song from a video game.

If you hold on, life won’t change.”

When I first start­ed play­ing Persona 5, I was at a weird stage in my life. I was con­cerned about my­self, but not con­cerned enough to do a lot about it. My over­all health wasn’t aw­ful, I wasn’t dy­ing, but I knew it couldn’t be good still. “One day at a time” was my dai­ly af­fir­ma­tion. I tried to use it to calm my­self about my day to day anx­i­eties, but it didn’t work a lot of the time. I was still a bun­dle of nerves who had a re­al­ly hard time try­ing to re­lax even af­ter work. My phys­i­cal health wasn’t the best; I didn’t work out and hadn’t seen a doc­tor for a real check‐up in a while. Not be­cause I didn’t have in­sur­ance, but be­cause I was afraid of what I would learn. While ig­no­rance isn’t bliss, it felt bet­ter than know­ing the truth. I would just aim to make it to the week­end, where I could re­lax for a few days be­fore hav­ing to con­tin­ue my “one day at a time” mantra.

During those week­ends and oth­er down­time I could find, I was neck deep into Persona 5. The only oth­er Persona game I had played be­fore this was Persona 4 Golden, which I re­al­ly en­joyed. That trend con­tin­ued with Persona 5 thanks to its aes­thet­ics and the gen­er­al fun I had with the game. I start­ed to in­cor­po­rate parts of the game into my dai­ly life, like chang­ing my ring­tone to some­thing from the game, or adding Morgana to the slideshow of back­grounds on my com­put­er. I also re­al­ly loved the mu­sic, so I start­ed lis­ten­ing to the sound­track more and more.

Listening to the sound­track, and re­al­ly lis­ten­ing to the lyrics, got me think­ing about the game in a dif­fer­ent way, and how it could be rel­e­vant to me. “If you hold on, life won’t change” was a line I found my­self fo­cus­ing on when­ev­er I heard it. Being me and be­ing gross­ly over an­a­lyt­i­cal about video games, es­pe­cial­ly the mu­sic, I be­gan think­ing about what that phrase meant. Holding onto some­thing be­cause it’s com­fort­able or easy is, well, easy. We can stay in a rhythm, in a rou­tine, be­cause it be­comes our norm. We get that sense of com­fort and ease from that rou­tine. That kind of com­fort can lead to some bad ruts and stag­nant times in your life, which it did in mine.

One time in par­tic­u­lar I re­mem­ber was a day when I bare­ly got enough sleep to func­tion but had to take my hap­py ass to work re­gard­less, like an adult. I de­cid­ed to lis­ten to the Persona 5 sound­track, specif­i­cal­ly “Wake Up, Get Up, Get Out There”. I found my­self in a much bet­ter mood when I got to work, de­spite the lit­tle sleep I had. When I rec­og­nized how much the mu­sic could im­pact my mood and help me stay pos­i­tive, I start­ed re­al­ly lis­ten­ing to the mu­sic more and look­ing at the lyrics to songs like “Life Will Change” and “Wake Up, Get Up, Get Out There”, which lead me to re­al­ly look­ing into the themes of the game it­self. Much of the main protagonist’s strug­gle is about how to take con­trol of their lives and rebel against an un­fair sys­tem. This made me re­al­ize some­thing im­por­tant.

I was treat­ing my­self un­fair­ly. I was the un­fair sys­tem. I need­ed to rebel against my­self and the com­fort I had found in a self‐destructive rou­tine. I know it prob­a­bly sounds in­sane, but it hit me when I went to the doc­tor and re­al­ized how much bet­ter I need­ed to take care of my­self. I was tak­ing care of every­one else as best I could but ne­glect­ed my­self in the process. This wasn’t un­fair just to me, but also every­one around me. If I re­al­ly want­ed to help the peo­ple I care about, then I need­ed to take care of my­self to make sure I could con­tin­ue to help. I need­ed to take care of me if I want­ed to achieve the life I want­ed. I held onto a pat­tern of self‐destructive be­hav­ior be­cause it had be­come my com­fort­able rou­tine, my norm. At that point, I re­al­ized it was up to me to make that change. I couldn’t hold on any­more.

I made a vow to my­self that I would change. I start­ed cook­ing bet­ter meals and ex­er­cis­ing more to help change my body. I start­ed hold­ing my­self to a more rea­son­able stan­dard, al­low­ing my­self to breathe and for­give my­self more of­ten for the lit­tle mis­takes we all make in life. I want­ed to change my­self from the in­side out. I didn’t want to hold onto these bad habits any­more and I want­ed to make a change. “If you hold on, life won’t change” al­most be­came a mantra for me be­cause it was the dri­ving force be­hind keep­ing me go­ing to bet­ter my­self. I kept go­ing, and even when I would get up­set and feel like I was fail­ing, I would re­mem­ber that I couldn’t go back to those old habits if I want­ed to change, so I kept go­ing.

That doctor’s ap­point­ment hap­pened in July of 2018, and I’m hap­py to re­port I’m tak­ing much bet­ter care of my­self in a mul­ti­tude of ways. I’m work­ing on los­ing weight (I have lost 33 pounds since that day, and have start­ed a new diet that has ac­cel­er­at­ed my weight loss). I’m work­ing on man­ag­ing my anx­i­ety so I can en­joy my life more pos­i­tive­ly. These changes I’ve made to my life have not only im­proved my­self, but they’ve helped im­prove the re­la­tion­ships I have with my friends and fam­i­ly. My fu­ture hus­band is even along for the ride with me, and we’ve been sup­port­ing each oth­er each step of the way. We de­cid­ed to­geth­er that we wouldn’t hold on any­more, and we would make our lives change for the bet­ter.

“Clean up your room and go to bed”

It’s fun­ny to think that this jour­ney to bet­ter my­self all stemmed from song lyrics, from a game where a talk­ing cat is con­stant­ly telling you to go to bed. Hilariously enough, go­ing to bed ear­li­er is also a thing that has start­ed to hap­pen more in my life. I found the con­fi­dence to make the changes in my life that have been need­ed, slow­ly but sure­ly, and my life is mov­ing in a pos­i­tive di­rec­tion be­cause of it. “If you hold on, life won’t change” is such a sim­ple lyric, but it can hold a lot of mean­ing if you let it. While it may sound sil­ly that a mag­i­cal Japanese high school sim­u­la­tor can have this kind of im­pact on some­one, it can hap­pen. You just have to be will­ing to let a video game be more than just a game some­times. Sometimes, they can change your life.

The fol­low­ing two tabs change con­tent be­low.
Martyr
Lover of video games, met­al, and hard cider. Amateur video game mu­sic com­pos­er and YouTuber at Video Culture Replay. Armed with a de­gree in psy­chol­o­gy, she thinks she knows it all (and some­times ac­tu­al­ly gets it right). Also skilled with the oboe and wran­gling chil­dren. Catch her on Twitch over at https://www.twitch.tv/martyrscorner
Martyr

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