“How I overcame my computer gaming addiction” – Kshitij Surjuse

I’m Kshitij Surjuse, Senior undergraduate here to share my story of dealing with computer gaming addiction. I hope those folks who struggle with some or the other form of addiction find it relatable. I write this message in solidarity with them and want to reassure that once you guys overcome your addiction things are certainly much better. Just hold tight there, we got you!

HOW IT ALL STARTED.

I came to insti back July 2017. Before joining insti I had a little interest in Chemistry and a more of a shallow dream to go to the most prestigious institute in India. This dream drove me through my JEE preparation years, but now that I was in IITB, I had no goal nor any purpose. So I slacked off and this led me to do not so well in academics in my first year. My cpi at the end of first year was below 6.

At the start of my second year, I was determined to get my grades up. I started to read and understand what had been taught each day, I spent some time, like an hour or so, studying each day which helped me do pretty well, and consequently I managed good scores till the mid-semester examination. Unfortunately, that time PUBG and CSGO got the better of me. After that, even the one hour that I used to study was jeopardized. I was so addicted to playing games on my laptop that I stopped attending lectures. I played games all day, and I continued playing them till the very end semester examination of my 3rd semester. Having good scores until midterms saved me a bit, I somehow managed to get 7+ spi. But my addiction didn’t stop there. I grew more callous towards my academics and the 4th semester passed like a flash and my performance was way below par even though the 4th semester being the most lenient semester in our curriculum. I still couldn’t realize that gaming would not lead me to any good. I used to watch streamers play the game too. I was also addicted to binge watching TV series, anime, and movies. I was the biggest zealot you could possibly find who’d read even the fan theories about upcoming seasons of TV series and anime. 

In case you’re not aware CSGO is an online competitive multiplayer game, I used to play it for fun at the beginning. But after some time I started to compete more seriously. As hard as I tried I couldn’t achieve top ranks in the game. I was only getting more and more frustrated. I was also emotionally disturbed due to some personal issues. Before I could sense that everything was falling apart, I was mentally devastated, grades were going down, everything was a mess. I was a particle stuck in n=1 in a well with infinite potential walls on all sides, quoting a short quantum chemistry reference since that is what eventually came to my rescue. 

the only good thing was that I took a department elective CH504 which is a course on basic Computational Chemistry. I took it solely because my friends were taking it and it was said to be “chill” by some seniors. I actually enjoyed all the lectures and the labs. I did well in this course even though I didn’t study much for it whereas I did horrible in the rest.

THE CALM BEFORE THE STORM

Then came the summer vacations, I went home. Living with my parents helped me calm my nerves down, I gathered my thoughts and I decided to quit gaming and give more time to important things in life. But as you know, Rome was not built in a day. I started to decrease the time spent on games day by day. So along with 5th semester, came the highly competitive students of MSc. MSc students had already studied Chemistry for three years, therefore, it became easier for them to get good grades, considering the relative grading which took place. It increased competition in academics by manifold. Also, the courses were much harder. But I always loved the good old competition. I truly enjoyed CH425, a course on Quantum Chemistry. It fueled my interest in Quantum and Computational Chemistry. I started to study harder in a hope to get rid of the addiction. I made some very good friends during my group study sessions this semester. But that moment of happiness was short-lived when soon after, I realized that I was given a DX grade in CH405 by prof Bala. It struck me hard, it was like a wake-up call. I was still without a goal or a path to follow. That’s when I decided to give research a try. A leap of faith.

REDEMPTION

I got fascinated by Quantum Mechanics; it always kept my mind involved. In Computational Chemistry, we solve complex quantum mechanical problems with computers.

So I requested Prof. Achintya Dutta to induct me in his lab during winter vacations which thankfully he did. I started developing codes to solve some advanced quantum mechanical problems. I truly enjoyed doing that, it was fun coding for quantum mechanics. I had the same feeling as before when I started playing games, amusement, fun, can’t get enough of it. It became my whole new addiction. That project gave me a new path, a new passion. I gave my everything in this project, not just because I enjoyed it, but also because now I was determined to pursue research in Computational Chemistry. 

I continued working in the lab on a new project during my 6th semester. I am still digging deep into quantum mechanics as I write. My work also paid off as I got selected for a Summer Undergraduate Research Fellowship at Chemical theory Center at the University of Minnesota. It was a lucrative research internship but unfortunately, due to the spread of COVID-19, my internship was canceled. 

Kshitij at Prof Achintya’s lab

IN A NUTSHELL

Coping with any kind of bad addiction could be tough. From my experience, I would say “to end a bad addiction, get a new addiction, a productive one,  that would help to work toward the greater good.”

I believe each one of us has infinite potential, we’re just stuck at n=1 because we don’t know our true potential. Unlock that potential, believe me, you can tunnel through any well of infinite potential walls or any energy barrier. Take a leap of faith folks! 

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