I use my rating in the real world. In fact, if it wasn’t for my IA rating, I would not have been able to eat Thanksgiving dinner with my sister in Alabama thursday. See the members video thread under General to get a flavor of how I use my instrument rating.
Just like flying on the gauges in the plane, be patient with your learning curve. There will be days your body felt like it went through the meat grinder and then there will be days that light bulb burns brightly as things come together.
I tell people when they ask me what is the difference between VFR and IFR certification, the VFR license is the college degree. The IA rating is the master degree of flying. Your head will spin literally and figuratively as you learn the ins and outs of the instrument world.
I am all for using a desktop simulator to get familiar with an approach, learning how instruments relate to needle movement and such.
I don’t think the sim will ever simulate flying an airplane just as hood time in VMC won’t simulate IMC so hopefully you won’t try to learn stick and rudder from MSFS.
My first memorable moment in flying was not my first solo. It was the first time I launched into 1000 foot ceilings and looked to the right and saw nobody was there to bail me out should I really muck it up.
Proficiency is “relative” I find that if I don’t do instrument work at a MINIMUM of 2 times a month, my scanning and flying skills degrade. Your mileage may vary.