It’s probably going to be a bit of a ramble, bit of a mix and a match and general thoughts. There’s going to be some smushy guild love going down as well (maybe even some for you, Krunge).
It’s probably going to take me a fair long while to write as well because I’ll spend a long time umming and aahing about what to write, about who I might upset, about who I might anger, about the consequences.
As I do. So yea, social anxiety. It sucks. It really, really sucks at times. It sucks when people use it against you. But that’s something I might touch on later.
I feel like I’m in some sort of circle on plastic chairs in a room, “Hi, my names Sophie and I’m defined as socially anxious”.
What does this mean for me? How much of *me* is anxiety and how much is my personality?
This means that I’m frightened of upsetting people. I can be paranoid. It means that I strive to make people happy. It means I fear people being angry at me, yet I always presume I’ve done something wrong. I’m an eternal pessimist, I see no redeeming features in my personality, I don’t see why anyone would want to spend time with me or want to be my friend. I worry. A lot. I’m stressed out – a lot.
But what I don’t do is blame all these characteristics on my “anxiety” and what I won’t do is ever medicate it. I deal with my issues by myself, and one of the things I stand proud by is that YES – sometimes my anxiety has a hand in me doing silly things, but NO it doesn’t make me do them. If I make a mistake then I put my hand up to it and say sorry, and admit fault and admit culpability. I will never use anxiety as an excuse for being a dick.
What does this mean for my guildies?
I love my guild. I love the raiding, I love the guild chat, I love the friends I’ve made, I love the teasing, the joking, the mutual verbal abuse that gets flung between players, I love the fact I feel comfortable. I love the fact I’m an officer and that I’m approachable. I love it that people come and ask me for help. I love it that people enjoy the social events I organise (more on those below), I love it that I can have a hand in making peoples’ gaming experiences more enjoyable. I love my other officers, our guild leader, I love our socials and I love our raiding team.
Most don’t know I’m *anxious*. I expect a few more will now, if they still read this. I handle myself well most of the time, I’m outgoing, I’m willing to speak on TS, I’m willing to organise things and put my opinion across. Why do I do this? Because I *force* myself (probably wrongly a lot of the time, it may be better for my mental state to stay quiet) to speak. Why? Because I crave responsibility and I believe those seen as anxious aren’t given the chance to shine. Guilds need officers, officers need to be hardy, to be strong, to be able to put up with shtick from people.
Every Thursday night, we go and do old content. It’s something I’ve tried to do in all my guilds. Here in Adept we have, so far, run 5 weeks of activities. Week 1 we hit Ulduar 25 and picked up 25 man drakes for everyone. Week 2, we went to Naxxramas, Halion (although failed at heroic…gonna have to actually work for that one), Sartharion and Malygos. I got the Twilight Drake – awesome. Week 3 we had a short raid to the TBC instances and AQ40. Week 4 we went to ICC and worked our way through the drake achievements, although we still need to go back for Part 2 and finish off some heroic modes/odd achievements we missed.
Last night we went back to Ulduar again, but for the Non-drake achievements. We “broke” Auriaya twice (although thanks to my lovely friend Si we adjusted our tactic and actually tanked her in Hodir’s tunnel – we were having issues with the Cat Pouncing for 9 Lives), and we wiped on Hodir 4 times (/raidachievement is the Best. Addon. Ever – awesome for discovering when you need to wipe because something’s gone wrong) until everyone moved/didn’t move/jumped/didn’t jump correctly. We cleared up to Yogg, saving him and Algalon to knock out maybe next week.
As for next week, I’m thinking of hitting up ToGC for some Anub P3 pain and Sarth for a free mount. A nice short one. When I “lead” these raids – and I used lead in the LOOSEST possible sense of the word, I make mistakes, I bumble around, I ask for help, I ask for advice, I ask questions, I welcome feedback. I only ever got angry once, and that was in ICC, when someone stole my Dreamwalker portal. I have a rule that if someone makes a mistake twice then they go and wait outside the instance for us to complete the boss. It’s not punishment it’s just base fact – we’re here to clear, not to wipe for hours. But it’s clear to all those around that I’m not a raid leader – and I say as such. I organise, and we all work together to complete our goals.
I organise these raids with long spreadsheets which allow me to track peoples achievements, work out what they need, fill it in as we go along. I want to get people achievements because…well, achievements make people happy. They wouldn’t be coming along to achievement runs if they didn’t like achievements, right? I want to help make people smile. These runs aren’t compulsory. People don’t have to attend. It’s supposed to be fun and I won’t let a bad atmosphere pervade these nights. My anxiety or no – people are there to have fun so if I have an issue I keep it to myself.
So – does my anxiety affect the majority of our raiding team and guild? No. It’s my problem and I keep it to myself.
But, it does affect my friends.
I have this group of people that I like spending my time with. I absolutely adore these people. Truly, I adore them. All of them. My gaming experience would not be good without them. It would be hollow.
There is, of course, Zalduun, who has been masquerading as a shadow priest for some time but who has finally relogged his old character and is back being the squid faced paladin I remember. What would I do without Zal? There’s Thimian, the world’s most awesome laser chicken (she comes with in built sound effects and everything), Kamdantil her partner, and of course my fella, Thyphs. There’s the wonderful, sweet, kind, utterly marvellous Donkerz, there’s our cheesewheel carrying policeman Thysian, my dippy IRL chef and hunter extraordinaire Ferocitis and our quiet mage Marleth. There’s also Yanader, here in spirit if not in name, as he’s off playing poker professionally at the moment, leaving the computer games to us geeks
These people are my friends and I love them. We have our in game chat channel where we hide out and where I can say whatever I need to say and where people understand it because they understand me. They understand how scared I get, they understand why I’m scared. Last night there was an incident where I got very upset. Straight away, my lovely Zal knew from my voice on TS that something was wrong. He knows me well enough to know the inflection in my voice when I’m on the edge of tears. I told them what had happened, and I didn’t need to do anymore. They understood why I was distraught, they got pseudo-angry on my behalf, they gave me /hugs, and I felt better.
This is how I deal with social anxiety in game.
I’m not saying it’s for everyone, I’m not saying it’s the best coping mechanism in the game. But it is what it is – I handle my anxiety by surrounding myself with people who understand me and who I can let go with, so that I can keep a fairly passable facade to the rest of the guild that I’m totally well balanced…
So, those of you that worry about upsetting people, that worry about people being mad at you, that worry about just, well, EVerything, try doing what I do. Find people you can trust. Find people you can love and surround yourself with people in game that know you and care about you and will watch over you, same as you will watch over them.
There are people in this game who will exploit your “weakness”. They will know what buttons to push, they will know exactly what to say to upset you and they will have no qualms about doing it.
These people are around, there may well be some in your guild. They aren’t good – they are weak for picking on something they know is sensitive and exploiting it to make themselves feel bigger.
My friends empower me to see this and to deal with it with their support.
Warcraft is a MMORPG. One could say we’re supposed to socialise. Some people don’t want to, some don’t need to. But for those of us that want to but find it harder – just know there are others like you around and that the nasty people, the bullies, the belittle-rs (not a word, don’t care) can’t have any effect because what makes you you makes you special.