One of my favorite musicals of all time is Les Miserable. I go to see it every time that it is within a two hour drive from me. In case you aren’t familiar with it, it is based on the book of the same name by Victor Hugo (the musical starts about 700 pages in). There are many fantastic characters in the story, but one of my favorites has always been Fantine. A women who was a single mother in revolutionary France trying to make ends meet to keep her child well cared for. She tries to earn an honest living, but eventually is turned out into the street where she must resort to prostitution to continue to pay for the people caring for her child.
She’s in less than 1/3 of the show, but I feel that her story is one of the strongest – even if it fades out very early. There is a gut wrenching scene where she bares herself, and tells the audience about her dreams. How she came to be a single mother, how she holds out the hope that the father will return to her, how every last dream she had is devastated. If done well, the scene is breathtaking. In the end Fantine ends up giving away almost all of herself to make sure she can send money for Cossette. But you see the glimpses of her remain. She is devoted, determined and will do anything it takes to shelter Cossette. In the end, it kills her, but she didn’t let people’s perceptions of her drag her down and she held on to what dignity she could, considering she was a whore at the cusp of the French Revolution. She fought for what she wanted, at any cost.
Oddly, there is another character in the story who is a jailer named Javert. He is also one of my favorite characters in the story. He also clings so strongly to his beliefs, and his actions reflect that. Every thing he does is done because he believes that it is right, and from time to time he is blinded by what he perceives to be justice, but makes the folly of never giving it any of his own thought. He is devout in his perception of right and wrong, and draws a very black and white line that distinguishes the two with no grey in between.
As you watch his story unfold, you see that he and Fantine really aren’t that different. They both have something that is precious to them, and they will both do anything – no matter the cost – to get there. The difference between the two is that when Fantine is faced with challenges she accepts them and meets them. She is flexible, and puts her pride away. Javert on the other hand cannot bend. There is right, and there is wrong. There cannot be anything in between. And, in fact, when he is confronted with an in between, unlike Fantine, he cannot bend. And trying to do so ends up breaking him. Another scene that, if done well, is incredibly moving.
At this point, you are all probably wondering where I am going with this.
The past few weeks I’ve been feeling very disconnected. A little bit from the game, but a lot from my guild. I’ve been feeling a bit off these past few weeks, but haven’t really been able to put my finger on why. Until this past week when I’ve been travelling. It really hit home to me why I’ve been feeling so, well, just not me. I feel a little bit like an outcast in my own home. Let me back up a little, I suppose. I think the feeling probably started creeping in when my hands started bothering me a number of months back. It really cut my play time down dramatically, largely because my hands hurt so bad that is was difficult to play outside of raids. As such, I started spending a fraction of the time that I used to online. Which meant that as we brought new people into the guild, I really didn’t/don’t get a chance to know them outside of raids.
I’ve always view Monolith as my family. When I moved to Seattle, I didn’t know a soul other than Brade, and I’m not exactly a social butterfly. In all honesty, if I didn’t have Brade I’d probably end up being that lady with 8 cats who keeps to herself and creeps the kids out so that they all dare each other to ding-dong-ditch her front door constantly. As such, I have always tended to build strong relationships with those that I know in WoW. And I have always viewed the members of my guild as part of my family. I’ve offered help to those that may need it, I’ve offered an ear to those who could use one and I’ve offered advice to those looking for it (and sometimes even to those who aren’t). That’s what you do for family, right? It’s what I do for mine at least.
Lately, though, I’ve been feeling a little bit lost in my home and with my family. Almost as if I’m an outsider.
I don’t know if it’s because I’ve had to cut my playtime back some, or perhaps the dredges of my struggles a month or so ago, or maybe it’s something completely different. I’m not entirely sure. There are a few things that I am sure about, though. A few times in the past few weeks, I’ve been hurt and incensed by some people in my family, both old and new. Every family has warts, or those people who push buttons, but I’ve always tried to be objective about them and neutral. But lately, a few people have been making snide comments about my performance, most of the time in jest, but sometimes I’m not entirely sure. And it’s much harder to let those jokes go – mostly because I work very hard to be my best every raid. I have my off nights like anyone else does, but of all things to complain about with regards to me, it shouldn’t be my performance. I bust my ass every night, and at the risk of being accused of a big ego, and not that it matters overly much for healers – but I’ve ranked on about 95% of the encounters that we’ve done, so I’m obviously doing something right and have a firm grasp of my class.
Yes, I make mistakes. I’m human. Yes, I have areas to improve. Everyone does. But I’m extremely hard on myself when it comes to my performance, and I already know where my flaws are. Not only that, but I’m open with everyone about the areas I feel I need to improve. And a joke is only funny to the butt of the joke so many times before it grows old.
I suppose that part of it’s my fault for not speaking up and telling them “hey that really does bother me, could you back off”, or perhaps “if you’d look more closely at the logs, you’d see xyz”. I guess I just don’t want to blow something someone else sees as a joke out of proportion. But as the weeks have passed, I’ve noticed a little bit that sometimes the jabs and jokes put me into such an angry frame of mind that it actually affects my performance and makes me want to tell people to go fuck themselves. I am so pissed off about it that I let it control me and end up doing a poor job. Not only that, but then I’m pissed at myself for not performing.
Truth be told, a little bit of the reason that I’ve not said anything is pride. Pride is such a strange beast. I’d rather be insulted, or act like something doesn’t bother be than speak up and say “hey, I’m doing my best here, could you back the fuck off please”. I’d rather not have people think I can’t take a joke than to tell them when they’ve taken a joke too far and that they crossed “the line” about two miles back. I’d rather sit like the cold bitch that can handle anything than admit that they’ve found the chinks in my armor and are repeatedly hammering away at them and that the ego behind all of that shell is extremely fragile.
I find that I’m at a bit of a crossroads here. Do I adapt like Fantine and toss away my pride or do I remain unbending like Javert? And while I admire them both, when all was said and done didn’t they meet the same end?