Every day for the last week (and a bit), I’ve always set some time aside to play HuniePop.

For those of you who don’t know what HuniePop is, it’s a dating sim with voice acting, multiple location/interaction settings, clever writing and an innovative puzzle game (of the tile-matching type) replacing the standard “conversation selection” during dates, as in other games of the genre. I’ve even been having dreams about playing HuniePop, so it’s a big deal in my life right now.

And why is this?

For the past couple of weeks I have also been under a not inconsiderable amount of stress. Both my girlfriend and I are looking for jobs and, realistically, we have both been offered one; as of now, though, we are both still awaiting telephone calls confirming them. This period of inactivity has resulted in a lot of alone time to think, and we all know what happens when I think.

Just before lockdown started I had made a mental recovery from the large accident I had in 2019 and was starting to work on my body image. Lockdown hit at the worst possible time, just after my birthday and while I was having a difficult time at work. Eroticon was cancelled at the same point, and so was the annual music event I was going to play at.

I stayed strong, but there was a lot of internal turmoil. The physical exercise I was trying to do (and there wasn’t much of it, but I was making an effort) fell by the wayside and, as 2020 wore on, I started to feel worse and worse about my body.

The turning point

If you’ve been reading, you’ll know I lost the job I loved at the beginning of the year and, since then, I’ve been lying awake most nights thinking about my life (and, also, I’ve been lying to my girlfriend, telling her I’m fine – I’m not really fine, but I don’t want to add to her worries).

I’ve always had a problem with self-image and what little self-confidence I once had is being increasingly eroded. I don’t like the way I look and I’m no longer confident about the way I talk (the job trial I had yesterday was the first time in a while I’ve been able to talk with the assurance that anyone is listening to me). I can see people displaying their talent, or their physical attributes, or both online (and in real life, such as it is) and I do, sad to say, feel totally inadequate.

Girlfriend said, and rightly so, that – what with being in a relationship with her and therefore not trying to attract anyone – I don’t need to worry about my physical appearance. But it’s not that simple. I don’t find myself attractive, at least not physically, and that is a problem for me. Next time I go to Eroticon, I’m guaranteed to be surrounded by beautiful, body-confident people, and that always makes me feel excluded.

It’s me doing this to myself, I know. I’m my own worst critic. But then aren’t we all?

And what is to be done?

I suppose that’s the reason why I’ve been playing HuniePop. The girls in the game don’t look at you with judging eyes or make you doubt how you look. On HuniePop, I can flirt and I can date and I can talk and talk and talk, and if a date goes wrong, at the end of the day, it’s just a game, so I can try again until the tiles are in a better configuration.

And the girls will talk and ask me questions. If I get it right, they smile. Sometimes they giggle, sometimes they compliment me. I always do the same to them.

Life is difficult.

But if I can’t be happy with myself, at least in HuniePop I can be some semblance of the person I want to be – or, at least, a person with the confidence I’d like to have. With the girls in HuniePop, I can have the sort of confidence I’ve never had in real life.

That’s right. That’s okay. That’s what helps.

At least a little.