As many of you will know, I used to be the GM of a little guild called Eff the Ineffable (and before that War Within a Breath). When I burned out on WoW in general and Cataclysm in particular, I ended up co-GMing a SWTOR guild in the interim. Then I left SWTOR to return to WoW and obviously gave up any claim to leading the SWTOR guild. Now, it’s been several months since I’ve been involved in the leadership of any guild and I’m still trying to come to grips with what that means.
I don’t know if it’s just me being unable to fully let go, or if this is something that many people experience, but I’m finding the process of transitioning from “leader” to “peon” to be oddly difficult. There’s a lot of aspects that keep coming up and they honestly never occurred to me before.
Finding the other side of the coin
If you’ve read this blog for any length of time, you may recall some of my more colorful rants about several of the difficulties inherent in being a GM. There’s a lot of shit that I’m relieved to not have to deal with any longer. What I didn’t anticipate is how there’s a flip side to the things I hated and it’s that flip side that I feel a bit bereft without.
I once complained that I couldn’t log on without having a half dozen tells from people who urgently needed to tell me something. I don’t miss that. But I do miss feeling connected. I do miss the flowchart I had in my head that could map all the relationships between not only myself and each individual in the guild, but also between the individuals themselves. When I was a GM, I knew who respected me, who hated me, who was best friends with whom and which members were most likely to get into the occasional heated squabble with each other. I knew who was central and who was an outlier; which people would remain loyal to the guild despite setbacks and difficulties and who might cut and run at the earliest signs of trouble.
Part of that was being a GM and part of that was spending several years with a somewhat stable group of the same people. Now I am neither in leadership nor do I have a long history with anyone in the new guild, except the few people who followed me there to hang out. So I’ve been struggling with feeling completely disconnected with my guild as a whole and that’s a strange feeling when I’ve spent the past four or five years being central by virtue of being in charge.
The reasons I feel disconnected
biggest part of the problem when it comes to this only reason for this disconnected feeling I have in regards to my place in the New Guild. I convinced myself before I even started that the best thing I could do would be to keep my head down and my mouth shut and just try like hell to do my best in any guild group situations.
It’s kind of a lot of stress and while I know that I have only myself to blame for it, I find I have a difficult time relaxing. I wouldn’t say that I’m not being myself with the New Guild. I’m just being the painfully reserved version of myself, unable to contribute to any discussions without over-thinking my words for so long that by the time I feel I have them in the right order and with the proper tone, everyone else has already moved on.
And… you guys know how I’m neurotic, right (cue sounds of feigned surprise: WHAT? Really? YOU?!)? Yeah, that hasn’t changed at all over the past several months. It’s one thing to say I’m going to try to learn to not give a fuck about what people think and it’s another thing to make a good pretense at not giving a fuck. But actually not giving a fuck? I think that will always be out of my grasp.
It was different when I was a GM. Because there wasn’t any pressure to be just me and hope that people liked me well enough. I wasn’t just Alas. I was Alas the GM and wearing that hat was like slipping into yet another different version of myself – one that could be as brash and rude and derpy and sarcastic as I was capable of being and totally get away with it.
Alas the Peon is another story altogether. Alas the Peon is much closer to who I actually am behind the avatar and even the writer of these words on the blog. Alas the blogger or Alas on Twitter can and do say pretty much anything that comes to mind without worrying too much about what people think. That Alas can trust that if people are reading the blog or following on Twitter that it was choice they made to do so. Alas the Peon in a new guild is besieged with doubts that anyone other than the GM wants her there at all.
Isn’t it funny how all those versions of me are true to me but all it takes is a situation change to throw me completely off my stride? I envy people like At who are just always themselves and are never tripped up by fears of who might be watching.
On timing and structure
But there’s been another contributing factor to the disconnect and while it’s also entirely my own doing, I didn’t realize until a few days ago that it was getting in the way. As previously mentioned, I do my dailies in the morning while I am at work. You know who else is on during the day? Not very many people. And from all I can tell, those few who are on are also engaged in trying to get their dailies done.
By the time I get home at night, I’m done with WoW for the day. So I make dinner and eat and then park my ass on the couch and work on my frightfully enormous cross stitch project with the television on in the background. All of which is to say that during the potential peak times of guild activity, I am nowhere to be found.
Between that and raids getting cancelled the past two weekends, I’ve had virtually no interaction with anyone in my guild for nearly three weeks. At least until yesterday when my GM was also on during the day and organized some Scenario runs. I was so awash in a flood of positive emotions from having that interaction that I even queued in LFR later that afternoon after also taking Vidyala up on a general invitation to come kill Galleon.
While LFR totally killed my desire to be around other people for a while, it was a far more interesting day in WoW than any I can remember having in recent history.
The plan to connect
So I guess that I like that my guild is mostly pretty quiet, but even though I’m the most seriously introverted person I know, it seems that I do still need to get some interaction out of my time spent in game.
Exposure is going to be key, because I’ll never stop being painfully reserved if I never get comfortable enough around these people to carry on a normal conversation. With that in mind, I’m letting go of my decided preference to do dailies in the morning with less competition (it helps that I’m down to only needing Shado Pan and August Celestials) and will be getting online in the evenings instead.
This should also please poor At, who tries to do a handful of dailies with me in the mornings before we go to work, but who is horribly behind because he chooses to spend time with me in the evenings and doesn’t have the luxury of being able to play at work. No wonder I’ve felt a lingering guilt regarding his lack of progress in reputation grinding.
I don’t know whether or when I might get over over-thinking everything I say in the context of the guild. I’m sure I’ll always carry with me some great or small concern about how others are perceiving me. But that’s always going to be the case because I can’t fathom a version of me that could ever be so carefree. But if could relax a bit and figure out how to just be less uptight in this situation and this guild and this context? Well, that would be excellent indeed.
Wish me luck?