Pick an entry in the series to read your favorite character’s essay:
Gaming Inspirations I: Personal Party Composition
Gaming Inspirations II: Character Profile: Adelbert Steiner
Gaming Inspirations III: Character Profile: Vivi Orunitia
Gaming Inspirations IV: Character Profile: Amarant Coral
Gaming Inspirations V: Interview with Joe Zieja
Gaming Inspirations VI: Character Profile: Garnet til Alexandros XVII
Gaming Inspirations VII: Character Profile: Eiko Carol
Gaming Inspirations VIII: Character Profile: Quina Quen
Gaming Inspirations IX: Character Profile: Freya Crescent
Gaming Inspirations IX: Character Profile: Zidane Tribal
Hello, friends, and welcome to the fifth Character Profile of the Gaming Inspirations series! “Gaming Inspirations” is a series of blog posts that puts into words how gaming has inspired me to shed my anxiety and its negative effects on my life. Final Fantasy IX has provided incredible amounts of inspiration (probably because it’s the greatest game of all time), so I’m creating a profile for each of the main characters. Each profile will examine their unique qualities and I will detail how, through physical action, I’m going to help myself lead the life I want to lead by incorporating those qualities.
Today we’re going to talk about the sweetest little kid-summoner in the whole wide world (of Gaia), Eiko Carol!
Eiko Carol is the lone survivor of a Summoner tribe in the village of Madain Sari (OR IS SHE?!?!?! Spoiler: she’s not). She lives with a bunch of moogles (the cutest darn things on the planet) and apparently cooks horrendous food.
Her life gets turned on its head when she meets up with Zidane and the rest of the gang, joining them in their adventures and learning what it’s like to interact with others like her for the first time since she was very young. At the end of the game, after suffering the crippling loneliness of being the last of her kind, she finally feels at home once again. Yay!
At first, writing up a Character Profile for Eiko seemed near-impossible: her demographic (6 years old, a lady, plays the flute, horn on her head, magical) seemed so distant from mine (25, dude, utter lack of horns, magic, and musical talent) that I thought there wouldn’t be much to talk about.
Boy, was I wrong.
Throughout Final Fantasy IX, Eiko brings up a major human conflict, one that all of us struggle with: loneliness.
I’m not talking about your average, garden-variety, “All-my-friends-are-gone-for-the-summer-what-am-I-to-do” loneliness, either: I’m talking about isolation. Sure, she’s got a lot of moogles to talk to, and this is no slight on them, but… she’s different from the moogles. No matter how nice or comforting they try to be, their core difference from Eiko prevent them from fully filling the void caused by lack of real empathy from someone who knows your struggle.
I’d be willing to bet pretty much everyone has felt this “but they don’t understand what I’m going through! They haven’t experienced what I’ve experienced! How could they possibly understand how I’m feeling?” loneliness before. Hell, I know I have. A lot. My experience is different, unique from anyone else’s; it seems natural to assume that, since they haven’t experienced what I’ve experienced, it’d be impossible to understand the depth or intricacies of how I’m feeling.
The “They Don’t Understand” feeling is amplified when the situations or events are completely out of your control, and when is your life more out of your control than when you’re a kid? Eiko didn’t choose to be born in Madain Sari. She didn’t choose for her family to be slaughtered. Hell, she couldn’t even choose who she wanted to hang out with! When these sorts of things are chosen for you and you’re powerless to change them, it’s easier to slip into a lonely, fatalistic sort of despair.
Let me tell you why this idea is irrelevant and should be discarded.
HOW TO INCORPORATE (or, in this case, dis-incorporate (is that a word? I don’t think that’s a word. Whatever)) THESE QUALITIES
This “They Don’t Understand” delusion doesn’t do anyone any good: it’s isolating for the person feeling it, and it makes the people trying to help feel powerless. But, in the moment when you’re feeling it, it’s very difficult to avoid: how could they possibly understand? How are you supposed to trick yourself into thinking that they do?
There’s only one thing you can do. There’s one phrase you have to integrate into your vocabulary, the only thing that will help when you’re feeling lonely and misunderstood:
Control what you can control.
There are going to be events in your life that make you feel like poop and are totally beyond your control. It happens to everyone, and it sucks no small amount of ass.
Wait. Did you read that?
“It happens to everyone”.
This is hard to remember when you’re in the throes of despair, but you need to realize that, when your friends are doing what they can to help you, it’s because they have felt pain, too. No, it’s not the exact same pain. No, it’s not the exact same situation. But in the immortal words of Westley from The Princess Bride: “Life is pain, princess. Anyone who says otherwise is selling something”. Everyone knows pain, and friends are those who help (or try, at least) to take the pain away.
In these situations, when you’re at your worst, looking at what you can control and taking control of them is a must. One major thing that you control (when you’re an adult, at least) is who you choose to spend your time with. Spend time with people who make you happy, and trust that those people will empathize with you and help you in any way they can. Whether they’ve felt exactly how you feel is irrelevant; what’s important is that they are willing to try and shoulder some of that burden with you.
When Eiko meets Zidane and the gang, she sees that she doesn’t need to be alone anymore.
You don’t, either.
All it takes is a little trust, concentrating on what you can control, and getting by with a little help from your friends.