This is going to be a kind of long personal post where I want to talk about a little bit of self discovery.
After reading a combination of Ambermist’s personal post on big life changes (in and out of game) and Tzufit’s post on how players have changed through Wrath and Cata, a few thoughts that have been on my mind for a while surfaced. I’ve wanted to make a response to Ambermist’s earlier post which challenged bloggers to talk about themselves a little, but I hadn’t realized what I wanted to say until I read those her own personal piece and Tzufit’s.
I mentioned in my introduction post that I am a college student going into my second year. This is my first summer break coming home from school, and looking back a year I don’t even feel like I’m the same person. Between talking to my family and friends, I know that I’ve changed more than I could have ever imagined.
A big part of it is physical: I’ve lost a lot of weight and because of it have begun to dress in a much different way. I’m comfortable walking around in more than just baggy t-shirts and jeans. I’ve started to enjoy going clothes shopping. It’s not because I absolutely love clothes, but because to me being able to wear tighter clothing without thinking that I look fat is a huge confidence boost. It makes me feel a lot better about myself, but my appearance isn’t the only thing that’s changed.
My first Semester of college: Learning to let go
Last summer, as I prepared to leave home for school, I felt that I was confident in everything I wanted to do. At the time I a few months into my first relationship and enjoying my two favorite hobbies. My hobbies were so great to me because I had two groups of people that were like family to me: my swim team and my raid team. Every morning and afternoon I’d go swim, every night I’d play WoW, and every other ounce of free time I got went to my girlfriend. I was extremely happy with everything and excited for school. I figured school would be four years to continue the same activities, but none of it lasted more than a semester.
One by one the three staples of my life began to crumble away. When I realized just how much work school, raiding, keeping a long distance relationship, and swimming for a college team would be, I realized I had to let go of something. I quit raiding within my first three weeks. It was hard for me, but I told myself it was for the best. I had to prioritize my life and make sure that I did what I had to. Video games weren’t as important as everything else, so I stopped playing thinking that everything would get better.
Despite my initial loss to time, I realized that I would have to give up more of what I thought made me who I was. My new team quickly became another family for me. I loved spending time with them, in and out of the pool. They were all amazing people that made the transition to school so much easier, but they were competing for time with my relationship. I didn’t know how to handle the situation. This was the first relationship I’d ever had, and I thought that it was right to give her as much time as I could. Eventually I felt the need to pick between her and swimming. I picked her, and I was left with nothing in my life but school and my relationship.
The next few months became sharing my time between my relationship and school. If I wasn’t in class or studying, I was talking to her. I didn’t spend much time with my friends because I felt the need to spend all my time keeping up my relationship. If I strayed from that, I ended up in a situation where I had to ask for forgiveness for putting other people above the relationship. It was extremely unhealthy, I realize that now, but at the time I was too afraid to move away from it. It was the only remnant of my life before school that I had, and I wanted so dearly to hold onto it. Without it I wouldn’t know who I was, I’d have nothing to be passionate about. My first semester of college ended on that note: I felt trapped in a vortex where I couldn’t feel anything but the single tie to my past life through this relationship.
I was scared. I was extremely scared to lose that tie to what I thought was me. I tried so hard to hold on to it. Yet as I fought to keep it, I slowly realized that what I held onto as a lifeline was actually dragging me down, so I cut it.
It wasn’t quick. It was drawn out and painful. I don’t think I’ve ever cried that much over a single person ever before, but once it was over I felt that I could breathe again.
My second semester: Getting out there
My second semester of college was full of so much freedom. I spent time with people who’d previously been strangers living upstairs. I made more friends in the matter of a month that I had all through high school. I spent most afternoons trying out new things that I’d never imagined myself doing. Although I also picked up raiding again somewhere in my second semester, I made time to go out and talk to all of the amazing people living around me. I was thrown completely out of my comfort zone, but I was truly happy for the first time in months.
One of the most personally surprising things that I did was pick up dancing. I joined the ballroom club on a, “Why not?” whim, but it became one of the things I did because I loved it more and more every time. I wont lie: it helped my interest that I got to meet some beautiful women, but that wasn’t what kept me coming back. It felt amazing to get past my awkwardness and dance with some amazing people. The leaders of the club who taught the lessons were all extremely nice and funny. They were quirky and lovable in a way that made me feel at home while completely questioning my presence on a dance floor at the same time. Getting new moves down gave me confidence that I really needed at the time, and having a small group of friends to dance with every few nights gave me something to look forward to.
In the same manner, Quidditch gave me something to be passionate about. I went out three days a week to practice and work out, but it wasn’t as serious as swimming had been. Everyone on the team was insane in their own personal way (I mean, they all run around on brooms). Practices weren’t all about becoming better, they were also extremely fun and surprising. Some practices were entirely meant to be fun, which had never happened with swimming. I found myself going out to have fun, but still found someone to push my competitive nature to work out. Between the senior who I had personal running competitions with and the crazy antics that the team thought up, I couldn’t help but feel that the team was a perfect place for me.
Between Quidditch and dance, I gained enough confidence and joy to be able to grow. I moved past feeling like I had to establish my happiness. I was certainly happy, and I finally started to take in the broad environment of experiences that my school had to offer.
I think that the biggest thing that came from that freedom and happiness was finally being able to spend time with new people and get to know them all. I met people who came from entirely different backgrounds than I did. It was astounding how many different experiences people had, and I loved hearing about what it was like for others growing up. There were international students and people from all corners of the US, and all of their different opinions helped me grow to accept a plethora of different views and opinions.
Reminiscing on my first year
This is me, after that first year of school
I was unsure as to whether I wanted to put a picture of myself up or not, but I think after all that talking about myself it’s warranted to do so.
Now that I’m home and I’ve been able to think about it all, I’m glad that things happened the way they did. It sucks to have lost so much and gone through so much pain at the beginning, but I think that everything was worth it. I’m happy again, but now there’s more than just happiness. I have a broader understanding of life, and I understand that things will change. I know I’m still young and that everything I’m slowly learning may seem like teen angst, but I guess dealing with this is a part of getting to be that adult that I will be some day.
As of now, I’m just excited to experience it all.