My Purpose

The growth of myself as a person and player is remarkably significant in all the years, and all the people, who have changed me to be who I am today.

Specifically in DDO, I think the reasons that I keep playing evolve. I was a lot more clammed up first starting out, but because I had no one, I played for myself. I ran alone, but I was always curious about other people. Social settings have always made me feel anxious, and this was something I never realized before; but I used to worry over every little thing. Out of game, I’d make sure I wouldn’t breathe too loudly or “take up their air space”, and in game, I’d make sure I’d have the proper grammar, spelling, and punctuation. I settled for nothing short of perfect, so I was also very afraid to admit mistakes or uncertainties. In order to avoid these, part of this was the reason why I dove right into the game and took it upon myself to learn the game and aim for the upper ranks of it. To play in endgame, at the time, back in 2011-12, and to immerse myself with as many puggers as I could, as they were my links to getting to know the inner circles.

It is kind of strange how now, the people who joined the game then, are the people who I consider my fellow “peers”, as if this game is a profession. I built as big of a network as I could, and kept most of my thoughts and opinions to myself. I can’t say exactly what drew people to me, and me to them, other than running pugs often. And now that the network is more established, I’ve found less and less incentive to pug. Especially for the higher end content where we can’t really afford to carry people.

I think this is where I miss the older days of the game, where Reaper has pushed for people into these tight knit circles again. Elitist attitudes, even among some of my best friends, is rampant. And I have fallen towards that in pursuit of the Reaper experience myself. But I think now, I have a changed perspective of it. Having been reminded of the player that I used to be – full of positivity and acceptance – kind of made me stop in my tracks to think about some of the thoughts I’ve had about others, and to move forward in a new light more reminiscent of my former own.

I used to play because I truly loved this game then. I had mixed feelings in the early days starting out, but I think it’s fair, now, to say that all along, I had been playing this game for both social and mechanical reasons. I played at first because I wanted to earn the respect of others, but I also played because I had never played a game like DDO ever before. As someone who never knew the concept of role play officially and yet growing up with it all along, DDO was the game that fit in perfectly. I grew excited at the idea of an angelic character, and somewhere along the way, I projected myself onto that. Somewhere along the path further down, I wanted to believe I could paint something on this blank slate. Almost 8 years later, I found a place where I felt like I could belong, away from the real world and all of its sickening burdens.

But even the “sweet DDO life of Sera” has its own demons. I’m sure I could go on and on about them, but for the first time I think in all these years, I was really beginning to turn away from DDO. I wonder now if it was still even by choice, since it was more out of fear and anxiety. And that hiccup was all it took for me to snap out of it. I questioned myself, why do you still play if it’s for others? Because of others? I suppose I can never rid of this emotionally apt heart of mine that is always drawn towards the troublesome crux of social harmony. And that if that is not achieved in my circles, it takes a rather huge toll on me.

So slowly, I began to immerse myself with new reasons – not for friends, not even for close friends, but for myself again. To go back to square one. With a bit of balance, I want to maintain what little social life (the real one) I have, and play DDO for the excitement of builds. To nerd out again hardcore like I used to, researching, creating spreadsheets and documents, working on myself as a player and on my characters. I spent this entire year helping others, that I could barely fit in my only goal of attaining Reaper wings.

And thus, I’ve thought about embarking on another TR trip, with Racials at least. I’m not sure if I’m 100% settled on this yet, but it has been a thought. The previous TR project was so grindy and I hated that I couldn’t raid with my friends. But over the course of the past month, taking a moment to stop and actually put forth the effort of running with the other guildies has made me realize that they’re actually fun to be around. The ones I didn’t put in nearly half as much effort and barely got to know. I’ve always wanted to lead by example, so this has been an eye opening experience for me. What touched me was that they said, at least for a particular group of guildies I ran with last night, was that it was because of the fact that I had been reaching out to them and being involved in chatting with them, grouping with them, showing and displaying an effort that they in turn responded back. This really restored my reason and purpose to lead. The thing is, it wasn’t even that much effort on my part – I’ve always ingrained it in me to always greet guildies and be as active as I possibly could for others. And I’m forever thankful for people who do respond back. Sometimes I wonder, is it really as simple as that? What is it about me that I just click better with people? There is a plethora of reasons I’m sure, but hearing about this gave me the warm fuzzies.

In any case, back to the Racials, I think it might be an easier TR project given all the content these days, and the fact that I could just monopolize one set of gear as an easy button Sorcerer or something. I still have to think about it, if I did it might be with a group of guildies, or on my own terms and picking up friends along the way. I’ve always been bad about going in groups because I personally don’t think matching up time zones and schedules is feasible without a lot of effort, and the last thing I want to do is put in more effort for such a hefty project. But I’m reminded of Vie, who is much more casual in nature about running a TR, and I certainly miss her as well as her refreshing attitude. I think my wish, of wanting to run with pugs again, is finally coming true in a way that I would have never expected it before!

It’s nice to be able to put up an LFM again, on that note. I miss the anonymity of it sometimes, being in a group where no one actually knows me. It is also nice when someone somehow does know me and speaks kind words. I’m always so grateful for them, even though I might not know them. It is amazing how some people have elephant memories, but the same could be said of me when it comes to people. First impressions are truly lasting.

That said, I’ve been hitting it off with a lot of new (by new, I mean hidden gems) people around the server. It is astonishing to me at how secluded I was, and am, even now, with these channels and Discord server. And it kind of hurts me to know that people I never got to meet because they quit without ever finding a community. I love meeting new people, mostly online but even in real life as long as I have a chance to observe them and ask many questions about them. Can you imagine how far your network could grow if we were all just in one big server?

I now play for this and many other reasons. I want to continue to meet new people, create new memories, learn more about the game, its players, and myself. I always know that I can improve myself to be better because there will always be someone better than me. In both attitude and skill, I think that is what defines a good player. So I want to strive for that, and revive the old spirit I had for DDO – one that a lot of my older friends whom I’ve pretty much grown up with, would remember.

Time Capsule: Memories of Stained Glass

4AM has me writing from a Time Capsule, from me to you. Enjoy.

Growing up, my circle of friends were mostly Indians. I had a best friend from the 3rd grade to the 6th, and when I had my fall out with her, I joined my circle of Indians. They were warm, smart, and everything I aspired to be, and there were many of them. It was an easy decision. Give up one toy, and get 10. When my own mother pushed me to make that decision, I felt a little less bad about it.

But it wasn’t necessarily a wrong decision either. I grew up with wonderful people. Sure, maybe Taniya played a cruel prank on me, when she got our P.E. gang to all give me the silent treatment for half a year. I was so distraught, and Munirah would be the “spy”, talking with me when they weren’t around and I had felt so torn when she’d run back alongside them. Then at the end of the year, they would say that it was all just a prank. It was such torment that I instantly forgave them all, and moved on.

But that was close to around the time I told them what was going on in my life. Asians can be cruel and heartless, you know. They must have judged me silently, and wanted to have nothing to do with me until it was the end of the year, and heartrendingly, understandably so. Shortly after, Taniya never associated with me again as she went into sports, but I still hung out with Sabrina. Munirah left to a prestigious special school that would allow her to graduate faster than the average student. I started becoming closer with my other group of friends; Rachana, Nishi, and soon I’d meet Alekhya and Harshini, both whom lived at the same apartment complex as I did.

They kinda saved me. I think I had thrown away my warmth in friendships when I threw away Ilse. I knew I would never match them intellectually, no matter how hard I’d try, or want to try. Beyond that, I was slipping from family home life. No more dad, and soon to be a half absent mom, I slept and slept. But it was Harshini and Alekhya who would call me every morning to make sure I wouldn’t be any more late than I already was, receiving a truancy notice, and it was Alekhya’s mom who noticed I wasn’t eating anything for breakfast, and so she’d make me a crispy toast with Nutella every morning. It was my friends who accompanied me, validated me, and laughed with me, so naturally and seamlessly that I was not nearly as thankful as I am today for them.

Perhaps they too knew what had happened. Perhaps God was giving me something in exchange for my nothing. I wondered if word had spread, but instead of them maliciously gossiping, they became the better people in my life to better me too. I love them from the bottom of my heart, as they were the ones who taught me by example to love and cherish others. They taught me friendship, even though during those days the world the was gray to me. I wouldn’t have cared if they even left me behind, as it was already something I was used to for half a year.

Why did they want to be my friends so badly? I remember thinking that. I was selfish and cold. I just didn’t understand why they treated me so well. And sadly, as the division of AP and IB separated us, I no longer got to hang out with them anymore. But they still reside in my heart with warmth. Even to this day, I still get a yearly birthday e-card from Rachana, and Nishi always greets me with a radiant smile. They still text me, check up on me, every once in a while, even if it’s not all the time. And that works, I’m the kind of person who hates constant interaction for some reason. I need alone time, as that’s what I’ve been used to and need for recharging, but I can also be afraid of the lonely space. High school was 10 times less lonelier with my Indian friends.

So when Ilse sent me that text, I knew it was the most beautiful ending to our friendship. We made up in our senior year of high school, when my government and art classes coincided with hers. Our fall out lasted about 5 years, from a very close best friends sorta relationship, to a complete and utter block. Yet, I had already forgiven her deep down in my heart since about the time I entered high school. I can never hold grudges for long, but I was too stubborn to be the first one to break. I didn’t want to lose face, not after being treated as if I had none in the first place. In a sense, that silent treatment was traumatizing. And so, in order to not get hurt in the first place, I stopped allowing myself to.

Ilse was the first one to talk to me, back when iPads were becoming a regular commodity at your typical rich white high school. I was eager to make up, and soon we were talking again. But we didn’t go back to best friends, there was no time for that. Instead, we sat side by side at a bench, talking and laughing like normal friends, enjoying the “now” of each other, before we went our separate ways. I would have wanted to go back, but part of me held myself back knowing that maybe this was for the better. I didn’t deserve redemption, but forgiveness, and so she forgave me; her first words, were “I forgive you.” And I forgave her back. We didn’t argue over who was wrong first, we mutually met each other halfway, and that was a beautiful ending to our friendship.

So when I look back, did I have a dramatic school life? Hardly. I’ve heard worse around me, especially within my Indian circle past the 9th grade in their IB program, but I’ve had my ups and downs. It was mostly around home life and family, and that’s partly how I got so addicted to DDO in the first place. But I sometimes have moments, such as tonight, or as I’m on the way back home from school, when I think about how much my friends have done for me, and supported me, past all of this, and treated me kindly. Why is it in my paranoid nature to always assume people are worse than they actually are? It’s not like I’ve met someone worse, other than seeing the ugly sides of my family. And yet, I am touched by the warmth they extend to me.

I love them. Thank you Ilse for teaching me humility and forgiveness, I would have never thought that I could ever cross that bridge with you. Thank you Alekhya, for the day you confronted me about how cold I seemed with you, that I wasn’t treating you with the same warmth as Harshini. And Harshini, thank you for the many laughs, you were like an older sister to me that didn’t have to grow up too fast. Munirah, thank you for being there for me, walking alongside me when no one else would. Nishi for confiding in me about your troubles, for allowing me to find a clear head to trust in your words and to become impartial. For opening up your insecurities that matched mine. No matter how cold, distant, and gray I felt and radiated, you all have made my life just a little brighter.

My beautiful world of gray is at least adorned with shards of stained glass.

2018: Another Year, A Letter

Dear You,

Welp, it’s that annual sappy post about New Year’s! Except I’m a week late. 😛

While this post coincides with my 21st birthday, I often double up stuff like this all the time. So I guess it’s not completely out of occasion.

To begin, I guess nothing feels out of the ordinary. Just like how I feel about birthdays, it was just another day. Although we did promote four officers for the new year: Valynda, Dolgon, Allibi (finally!), and Viestra. So that’s a new beginning! I feel that we haven’t promoted many officers over the year – partly because I sort of feel alone in leading the guild.

In terms of real life though, I think the biggest resolution is to expand my interest in motion graphics. I want to learn more, create more. It’s not something that I’m like strikingly good at, but it obviously takes a lot of practice. Just like the amount of effort I put into DDO, sigh, lol.

But for the game, I want to continue the work I’ve been doing. Reaching out to people, expanding the channel, expanding the guild, and focusing on hosting more events, raids, meetings, and more. As much as I want to keep it up though, I feel that it’s going to be strenuous. I don’t know if that’s good for me as it clashes with my real life resolution.

Keep in mind these aren’t real resolutions – in fact, I have a vague idea as to what I want to better myself in, but I never solidified these wishes. I think that’s what I’m doing now.

Well, in any case, I’m always sensitive to the feeling of starting anew, or ending something. Today (or rather yesterday, my schedule is so messed up) was my birthday, and I was so astonished by how many people showered me with warm wishes. I didn’t even tell anyone, but by word of mouth by those who remembered, the entire day I had friends wishing me a happy birthday. It was great, and kind of a first in a long time! Because I’m so apathetic to birthdays, these pleasant surprises remind me of the ultimate blessing I have: loved ones around me. While my day was just a normal day, somehow it felt more special by these simple things. Perhaps not having such expectations is part of that though. 🙂

2018 and 2019 I foresee a lot less DDO. That’s when I’ll be the most busy with coursework. But I’ll probably somehow find a loophole around that, I almost always do! I’ve probably said Happy New Year over a thousand times at my job and to friends, and I hope mine will be at least unchanging. But that’s kind of a bad thing to wish for when New Year’s is all about change, lol.

In any case, I hope the guild feels that they are under good hands. I hope my friends strive for better things in life. And I dearly hope I can grow in every aspect, from real life to DDO. I’m 21, but I’m still a baby really!

I think above all, I want to make more artworks and stick with it. Even if it doesn’t further my particular career, it’s something I’ve finally been able to grasp onto, so I don’t want to let go.

When my guildie linked a horoscope to my birthday, I thought it was interesting and fun to read. Was quite funny in how accurate it was, despite horoscopes generally not matching up. But I guess this year there was some common ground.

Today, I was in a particularly good mood because it felt like I was free. I didn’t feel obligated to help, even though I still couldn’t help myself. Sometimes I wish my birthday was every day in that sense! But, that would be selfish wouldn’t it?

I felt like I mattered, that I was important because I’ve tried to not think about myself in a greater light than anyone else. I don’t really have a focus on the need to feel important because it’s something that just simply didn’t have it’s place in it for me, but I can see why some emphasize it sometimes. While part of me prefers solitude, the other part is the outgoing side of me that cherishes people and just wants to be liked, loved. I saw so many people who normally don’t play anymore log in, and while some were coincidence, I think that was one of the greatest gifts.

Everyone will have a special place in my heart, and while that will be hard trying to fit each and everyone… you have made it all the more worthwhile to always keep trying no matter what.

Love,

A tired Sera writing, once again, at 7AM after a long gaming session.