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Hollow Knight helped me overcome my fear of doing hard things

Hollow Knight was the game that I knew I had to play the first time I saw gloomy Dirtmouth on my brothers Switch. Almost a year later I have now beaten the Pantheon of Hallownest and gotten the platinum trophy for this game. I honestly never thought I could do it.

I beat the game and put it down, expecting to never play it again. However, I had the soundtrack on my Spotify playlist for work, and damn if those songs aren't some of the finest in gaming. The end result was that I felt Hallownest beckoning me once again.

My philosophy on trophy hunting is such that I try and get the platinum trophies for games that I Iove or that truly change me as a person. Hollow Knight was a clear candidate for this list, and so I began preparing by researching what was involved. Nothing appeared that difficult outside of a single trophy which requires you to beat 40+ bosses (which is almost every boss in the game) in a row without dying once. I typically hate these types of challenges where you potentially have long run up to retrying where you failed, so I was very reticent to commit to this challenge.

I went as far as utilizing a glitch that makes you invincible and "beat" the Pantheon of Hallownest to unlock the platinum trophy. But it felt bad. It kept me up at night, I thought about it constantly during the day. I hadn't earned this trophy, and it nagged at me a great deal. I finally decided that I would commit to beating the challenge legitimately, whatever it took.

There is a way to make the challenge less tedious, and it is by not unlocking a certain boss named Prince Zote. It removes one incredibly annoying boss in the hardest split of bosses, and I was all for this small simplification. The problem was that I had unlocked him in my main game, and my old PS4 save file hadn't been updated since I originally beat the game.

At this point it is relevant to explain that I have severe anxiety, and the idea of doing things that I might fail at or that seem extremely hard are quite scary to me. I tried to so hard to rationalize to myself why I had actually earned this trophy and didn't need to to actually beat it, but to no avail. I finally decided that the only path forward was through this challenge.

I dealt with my anxiety by planning out systematically how I was going to beat this Pantheon. Steps included unlocking all the upgrades and charms, beating the earlier 4 pantheons with bindings to unlock lifeblood, and lots and lots of practice in the Hall of Gods. I would watch hour long walkthroughs from YouTubers explaining their strata (demodcracy was my go-to), and I would dream about the current fight I was stuck on at night. Pale Knight in particular took me 10+ hours to master, but master him I did. By the time I was ready to start the Pantheon of Hallownest, I was so well practiced that it only took me 5 tries to finally beat Absolute Radiance and ascend the Pantheon of Hallownest.

It was one of the most incredible feelings I have experienced, and sticking through this challenge had fundamentally changed me. My performance at work had shot up, where I realized that a lot of what was holding me back was fear of failure and that breaking the problem down systematically could make intractable problems possible. I have had more confidence in my private life as I realized that I can do hard things.

Games are meant to entertain, but I have personally experienced a significant life improvement from lessons that I have learned via gaming. I love this hobby, and I appreciate being able to share this with you all.


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