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.
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.
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