April 23, 2012

A Little Epiphany

This post obeys Cynwise's Five Rules.
"We're all desperate to be relevant." - Denny Crane, Boston Legal
I've come to a realisation lately. Most of the decisions I've made in the last few years, and most of those I am making for the next few years, stem from a desire to be relevant and necessary to others. Job choices, career choices, plans for the future. All to fly my flag a little higher and mean just a little more to people.

Don't get me wrong, this isn't a moping session. It's a strange moment when you grasp such an intrinsic truth so suddenly. It's taken me a few days to get my head around it, to articulate even in my own inner monologue what exactly this all means. Luckily, the weather here has been wet and grey at the moment which is perfect for some introspection.

The exact reason I thought of this is lost in my mental soup of memories from last week but I know it was raid healing that sparked it. I've healed for my guild as a holy paladin for the whole of Tier 13. I volunteered, in fact, to be a healer when it became clear that we would have to recruit new raiders otherwise. I remember spending a lot of time talking about it with everyone, asking if it would be ok, asking if it was the right choice. Obscuring my actual motive, which in hindsight was becoming more important to my raid team by fulfilling a role that not everyone could/wanted to.

I like to believe that I've done a good job these last few months. Many a time my Lay on Hands has saved a tank from imminent doom, or my Hand of Protection has covered a cooldown miscalculation. I don't like to heal for the sake of numbers and I probably look worse on the meters for it, but meters aren't any measure of a healing team and when we beat that boss, all of us happy with ourselves and each other, that's enough for me.

On the other hand, the stress of healing when I'd barely gotten good at DPSing has been huge. The pressure of missing that Lay on Hands because I fumbled the mouseclick and letting a wipe happen has made me crankier than repeated wipe nights ever did as DPS. Not ever hitting the same numbers as two great, experienced healers put a dent in my confidence however much I rationalised it, and it put a dent in my mana pool on the nights that I let 'keeping up' dictate my choices.

The worst part has probably been two-healing everything. Experienced raiders amongst you may be shaking your heads right now, wondering why I didn't see that coming when I'm terrible at melee and Retribution was not a viable offspec. We'd never been good enough to run a whole raid with two healers before though, out of choice. It's been successful, but brutal. On those nights when raiding was the last thing I wanted to do - and we all have those nights, where work has been awful, you're tired, you're a bit low and all you're really up for is some low-level alting - two-healing Spine or Madness was a soul-crushing job whether we wiped or aced it.

My healing partner is a lovely and talented disc priest. We do a pretty good job, actually, when I'm on the ball and not exhausted from a mentally numbing day of emails. I feel like my lack of skill makes two-healing it even harder on her though, like she's picking up my slack. It's not a nice feeling. I ought to believe her when she tells me that's rubbish but there's a little corner of brain that is convinced it's true.

What I've realised is that this stems from my anti-privilege complex as the guild & raid leader's girlfriend. I might have been here since the start (and I'm still rocking #2 on all-time guild activity) but we're long past getting our guild to level 25. I don't like the idea that I might retain my spot in our raid team purely because of my romantic partner and more to the point I am scared that someone else might think that's the case. I've let it become a chain that stops me speaking my mind or demanding what would be right, fearful of being seen as a favourite if what I want happens.

So I went healer, so that I could contribute more. It's been a rollercoaster few months but now the ride is almost over, I think I enjoyed it less than I should have done. What's worse is that I still don't feel like I've earnt my place, even though I am being bludgeoned with the knowledge that I have by some very lovely guildmates. All I've achieved is burning myself out on raiding by trying to be something that I wasn't, something more relevant than another DPS pewpewing from 30 yards back.

All I want right now is to be that DPSer again. To be that boomkin pewpewing from 30 yards back. To be hitting respectable numbers and contributing to boss kills because goddamnit, DPS have a role to play in raids too. Without our current DPS squad, we wouldn't be clearing Dragon Soul weekly, or have done a current content heroic boss. It took giving it up for something I enjoyed less for me to see that.

We're all desperate to be relevant, but we have to make sure the cost isn't too high. For me, it's made me an insufferable partner on raid nights and a grumpy guildmate to have around. That's far too high for something that's meant to be fun, for the love of Zeus. I've learnt something though, and I'm determined to make the most of it. In Mists, I'll be raiding Tier 14 as a boomkin once again. I might have to relearn my class. I might sit bottom of the meters for weeks. I will raid in the way that makes me happy though, and I will be trying my best to ignore the little voice that says I don't deserve that spot. Ara is coming back, and ain't no-one gonna keep her down.


  1. This is why I've always maintained that I don't play a shaman, I play an Enhance shaman. Since BC, through my class's thick and thin, I've always played a melee dps because its what I know I'm good at and makes the game fun. Its hard to remember sometimes when you're depended upon and part of a social structure, but games are supposed to be fun! I'm glad you've come to that realization. Also, don't worry about having to relearn your class. Its expansion time, most likely we all will have to again.

    1. Thanks Dewey! They are indeed. Keep sticking to your guns, enhancement-wise :)

  2. OH Ara :(
    Your epiphany has made me realise one of my own too. I'll have to write about that some time. But your post is really moving.
    I am sad you had to give up something you love for something you tolerate. I hope that you have fun again :) but reading your post I can understand the pressure you felt from being the GF of the guild leader - nobody likes to feel like they've got a raid spot because of their outside relationship with people in the guild, especially the guild leader.
    I'm glad you are going to be here in Mists. So many blogs leaving/folding makes me a sad panda.

    1. Thanks Navi. I've spoken to him about it too, so he knows I have the silly thoughts! He tries hard not to do anything for me that could be misunderstood, which is lovely. I'm definitely not going anywhere - pet battles?! Who would leave?

  3. First: quoting James Spader = WIN.

    Second: This is the one go you get at everything. You owe it to yourself to make yourself happy. Being righteous (no pun intended) of course has its moments, but in the end... do what makes you happy.

    Happy Ara = happy friends. All is well :D

    1. Haha! Indeed, a little more selfishness isn't always the worst thing :)

  4. I'm glad that you are going to go back to what you love to play.

    I'll be honest. I swapped to healing on Rezznul out of desperation. I really didn't know how to play what I longed to play all that time, Moonkin, so I decided the only thing to save things was to start over and fill a role the raid really needed.

    For me, it was a wonderful change. Rezznul will always be a healer first and flirting with offspecs way second.

    I can hear the shouting, "Rezz! You are contradicting the whole point of this post!"

    (Yes, Fatherly yelling is allowed whilst children are sleeping. Deal with it.)

    I only *thought* I wanted to raid as a Moonkin. My failure at it allowed me to find my true calling.

    That is the key: I WASN'T GOOD IN MY ROLE WHEN I MADE THE CHANGE. So, my situation really wasn't the same when I made the swap. I *loved* being a boomkin, but I wasn't *in* love.

    I've known many people that have slipped into non-preferential roles for The Good of the Raid. Their true main, they loved playing them. They kicked ass. Then, for various reasons, they helped out by switching spec or even character, and their original love drifted into the shadows of alt-ness.

    My brother-in-law has had this happen to him many times in his raiding career. He is an incredible player, and is adept at mastering whatever role he needs to do. He's always said, "I want to raid." However, I know he wants to really raid on his DK.

    In our previous guild, he was forced into raiding on his Shaman, by request of the GM. I was an officer at the time, and I expressed to my GM that his real main was his DK. That didn't matter, as he changed the designation of 'raider' to his resto Shaman. That stung.

    So, even now, I am working at helping him get Shadowmourne, as he deserves it for his sacrifice. I have told people that he truly is the one person (I know IRL) I will say, "If he doesn't go, I won't go."

    I am at the point where I really would have to think about swapping Rezznul from resto as her main raiding spec. It's a snuggly blanket on a cold morning. It's a cup of hot chocolate with extra marshmallows. It's just that damn comforting to me.

    So, I think about that, and I see friends being able to go back to the characters (and roles) they love the most. It makes me happy, because I hope they have that comforting feeling.

    So Ara, kick some ass in MoP. Show your Boomkin pride! Have fun! Enjoy being warm again. <3

    1. I love your wall of text <3 longest comment I ever got! You win all the prizes!
      Ara is like an electric blanket, really. Super warm! :D I will do so!

  5. All that Rezz said, times ten! I'm sorry that swapping roles to be helpful turned out to be a pisser. But the silver lining, as you found out, is the situation showed you what you truly love to do. That's a great thing!

    And Rezz... Poor Lech ;~; He's a great DK! Although I imagine him as <:| <:| <:| all the time xD

    1. If I could give prizes for suggested length of comments you'd beat him! <3 It's a great silver lining, and hey, in the meantime I did something helpful anyway, so there's not too much to regret when it can be so easily fixed :)