It’s So Hard to Say Goodbye to Yesterday

And I’ll take with me the memories to be my sunshine after the rain…

I’ve never been good at goodbyes. I’ve never been good at letting go. One of the things I’ve always tried to do in my time playing WoW was to dehumanize everyone as much as possible. I didn’t do it to be cruel, I did it because I knew my own history and the dangers of the idealized and glossy world of interpersonal relationships on the internet. Despite the best of intentions and efforts however, some people have gotten under my skin and now I’d miss them if I didn’t see them. I won’t get into too many gruesome specifics, but suffice to say, when I said I had found a home I wasn’t lying, but most people believe that well-adjusted adults leave home at some point. This might be my time to do just that. When my parents dropped me off at my university dormatories my mother got all teary-eyed and I tried to tell her that it wasn’t a big deal for me to be doing this, that it was normal and natural and that it was just something to take in-stride and treat like any other day, not some sort of abandonment scenario. But now, I’m on the other end, tearing up as I leave home. For the second time. The last time I left, I knew with relative certainty that I’d be back, that it was more like taking a vacation or crashing at a friend’s house for a few days but that I’d be sure to call them every night before I went to sleep to tell them I missed them and to let them know I was ok. There won’t be any of that this time. This time, I’m walking out the door to seek my fortune in the world, knowing I won’t be coming back, and trying my best not to even look back or think about it.
The thing is, I don’t really have a compelling “why” to offer as an explanation. That is probably what bothers me more than anything. Someone told me that it’s one thing to have a kick ass 10man capable of things like Tribute to Insanity, but there comes a point where you want to see everything on 25man. Immediately I thought to myself, “is there really?” Is that the logical conclusion that everyone comes to once they conquer 10man challanges? Despite specific hardmodes like Sarth+3, 25man has always been considered harder than 10man raiding because of raid size, coordination, and the number of people who need to be equally as good as each other in order to have success. Are things like an Iron-bound Proto-Drake or an Armored Frostwyrm or fancy titles worth what I have to give up to get them? Is 25man and 25man hardmode success the only way to shake me out of the malaise I find myself stuck in as a player? Is my quiet discontent chiefly because I know that no matter how well I do in 10mans, 25mans will always be mediocre at best. When I wipe on 25man content I rarely think, “we can do this, we just need to tighten up” I feel; “so this is our limit, huh?” I don’t like seeing these limits. Maybe it’s a personality thing. Maybe it’s my fault for looking at defeats as limits and not challanges. But I believe I can overcome a challenge, but I cannot control whether 24 other people can or cannot. At what point does “admitting reality” become the correct choice and saying, “we are not capable” or, at the very least, “we may be capable, but will not be capable for the forseeable future” not just become a defeatist attitude that contibutes nothing, but actually the truth where you either have to accept a forseeable lack of success, or choose to relocate yourself to a place where success is possible? I’ve said that as I matured as a player I learned to “come for the gear, stay for the people.” But now it feels like all I’m really doing is leaving the people for the gear. I don’t know if that’s true, but in the absence of all other explanations, that is what it feels like.
I still don’t think 25man raiding success is the reason I’m feeling compelled to leave. Even if there is a permeating sense of despair over the future of my 25man success, at least there is 10man success to be had, isn’t there? Am I really so mired in discontent about not being world-first, realm-first, faction-first, that I feel compelled to relocate? And it’s not like I’m leaving for a top50 or 100 new home, so I’m still not going to have these firsts. But, repeated, and much sooner, success seems likely. There is also a feeling of like-mindedness that I’m looking for, and, “at home” hardly anyone seems to share that mindset because they are not like me. They are older, they have families, jobs, spouses, responibilities; for lack of a better word, “lives.” This is a multiplayer game, and if I do not have people willing to play it with me, to go after more obscure vanity achievements like Herald of the Titans or Tribute to Dedicated Insanity, or even just vanity gearing sprees like chain-running tier2 instances for a Judgement Armor set, and then doing it all over again on my alts, then I am not going to be able to do these things at all. Is being denied these things a reason to move on?
I’ve been a leader in my guild for months. I’ve been a backbone. Contemplating leaving makes me feel like a quitter. I don’t want to be a quitter. Am I a quitter for believing that I’ll never have the things I want here because I don’t have the time, strength, courage, or connections to build them here myself? Is there a point where I get to feel like “the facts of life” are not my fault… that my server is just too small, that the talent is just too spread out? When viewed from the context of personal growth, I find myself in a familiar pattern. When I was in highschool I had to settle for a lesser private school education because my family could not afford where I had been accepted and I hadn’t earned enough scholarships, so I went to an $8000 a year school instead of a $32,000 one. After a year there, the ease of academica wore on me and I felt ill-served by remaining there and attempted to transfer to a better, larger, and more prestigious institution. I was accepted and transfered and proceeded to fail out because I was miserable to the point of physically, mentally, and emotionally shutting down. There was culture shock, a lack of security and self-assurance, no support structure of friends, and I was a medium sized fish in a much larger pond than I was used to. It didn’t take me long before I was begging to go back to my small pond where I was safe and familiar, where I had people who welcomed me back. I was suitably greatful for my good fortune upon my return.
That happened the first time I left my guild as well. I transfered to a new server, but this time I had people who could attempt to ease me into their social circle. I had people to pvp and run instances with, people to talk to and joke with. I was set to join a guild making progress into 25m Ulduar hardmodes when, at the time, my guild couldn’t even kill the keepers on regular. I was welcomed and expected, but I still did not feel comfortable. In the end I returned to my guild where downing Kologarn on 25 was a major highpoint for us. But I was safe. They weren’t going to challenge me. They weren’t going to force me to be better. They weren’t going to make me play any way in which I might be uncomfortable. I left originally because I wanted to see how big the ponds got. The pool I saw wasn’t that much bigger. How much bigger than that will this new pool be? One of the main reasons I came back was because I didn’t just want to do the things I wanted, I wanted to do them with these people. I still want that. But what if they don’t want to do some of those things? What if they are unable to do some of those things? Enjoying a person’s company and personality will not magically make them a better player just because I want to succeed with them. Is recognizing these things (or believing I recognize them) and chosing to relocate a sign of “maturity” and “growth” or am I just a quitter? Am I leaving now, as before, feeling somehow superior to people and entitled to better than I’m getting, and just repeating mistakes of my past. Is this a case of not learning my lesson, or could this really be the right choice this time? Will I again find myself in a situation where I “didn’t know what I had until I lost it?” Am I going to reget it? Or is it finally time for me to stop being a baby about hurt feelings, regrets, and acknowledge that to grow is to change, to change is to move forward, to move forward is to leave things behind? Would it be, then, a mark of maturity to stuff my feelings and thoughts of trepedation in favor of being quickly decisive, making a decision and sticking with it no matter the outcome, or to embrace the full depth of this confusion and despair over my lack of insight and clarity with this life-changing decision and spend weeks waffling back and forth with no end in sight?
Really, it feels like breaking up. Not a divorce, there are no assets to divide, but a genuine severing of contact. I don’t think we “can still be friends” or “keep in touch” or “play nice”. It’s just not the way I work it seems. I don’t want leave and then pop back in periodically and have them feel like I’m slumming it with them on my day off or I’m going out to mingle with “the little people” gracing them with my presence. My mom said that it wouldn’t be like that; that they would be pleased that I took the time and interest to keep in touch with them. I believe that she believes that, but I’m not sure if it’s true. For even thinking about leaving I feel like a traitor. I dread the, perhaps inevitable, moment that I’m going to have to tell them my thoughts. I know all about gquitting ettiquette but it’s somehow more difficult when you’re not looking at it from the outside. I don’t want to tell them, I don’t want them to know. I don’t even want to know that I’m thinking about it. I feel ashamed. I’m much more interested in the Goodwill Hunting-type farewells where you just show up one day and I’m not there anymore; no questions, no explanations, no hurt feelings, people just get right along with their lives; like nothing happened, just without me in it. I don’t know if it is pretentious of me to think that I’ll have anything other than a professional impact on my guild by leaving, that any of them actually care about me as a person. I dread the thought of having to tell them. How can I explain it to them? I can’t even explain my reasons for leaving to myself with any kind of clarity. Like a flagging relationship, I can only mumble something about “it’s not you, it’s me.”
So, faced with these kinds of situations, I continually wonder, why don’t I just stop playing altogether. If i’m going to be a quitter, I might as well quit. I wish I could say that “a game isn’t worth this level of unpleasantness” but the game isn’t the issue, it is the over-arching humanity of the issue. “Should I stay or should I go” is a far older dilema than the song. I have given up almost everything else in my life to devote time to this game. I started playing this game in September of 2008, it is currently January 10th, so that is almost exactly 16 months, so approximately 480 days worth of time, 11520 hours. Across all my characters I have accumulated approximately 233 days /played. That is 5592 hours I’ve spent playing this game. There are people in my guild who have been playing since vanilla-WoW who haven’t racked that up. That means, almost EXACTLY HALF of my time over the past 16 months has been spent on this game. Why shouldn’t I just hang it up now? Might even be good for me…
After talking with some people about my thought process, the reason for my discontent became a little more clear; it is not that I dislike my guild or its lack of success, I hate my realm. It is a terrible place to be with agressively juvenile, mean-spirited, and selfish trolls. Sure every realm has those kinds of people, but my server seems to be made up almost exclusively of these kinds of people. Why I want to leave is not because my guild can’t succeed, it’s because my time away from my guild does not succeed. We raid 4 nights a week for approximately 3 hours per night, so I spend 12 raid-hours with my guild. Which means, On Tuesday, I spend 3 hours out of guild waiting for raid, either doing randoms or just running in circles wishing I was anywhere else but trade chat but having nothing better to do, then 3 hours in raid. Wednesday is the same story. Thursday, Friday, and Saturday we do not raid so I spend a minimum of 6 hours on Thursday and 6 more on Friday out of guild, and then 8-12h on Saturday and at least 6 on Sunday before raid and then 3 more out of guild on Monday before raid. That means I spend 12 hours in guild, and almost 40 hours of game time not raiding with my guild. So what do I do with all that free time? Well, I try to raid ICC10 on my 2 alts. My server is small and the talent pool is really spread out. Most of the good people are guilded and run with their guilds, so, my challenging-content-ready talent pool is expectedly small, and wiping on Saurfang 10man because people don’t know they can’t tank bloodbeasts to the face even after we explain it, or can only pull 4k dps as a mage with a 2800 WoW-Heroes gearscore makes me a motherfucker of a sad panda. I don’t want to leave my guild, but I want to get the hell off my realm. The problem is, the people who I’d want to come with me, won’t want to leave the realm, either because of the fee and all the alts they’d have to bring (I’d have to bring at least 3 with me, so that’s a hefty $100 fee right there… but it’s probably closer to $150). It just doesn’t seem realistic that I’m going to be able to have my cake and eat it too. So I’m left with a nice level of 10man success and mediocre 25man success with people I am used to, while suffering mediocre 10man success and 0 25man success pugging on off days while on my server, or transfering to a new realm for basically ensured 10 and 25man success and a strong likelyhood of 10 and 25man pug success on off days (going from a realm of 3000 people on your faction to 12,000 apparently makes a difference).
And so I’m back to my moral dilemma. I’m still conflicted and still miserable. Wrathy, you’re killing me with the whole “responsibility” line, and I hate looking at myself side by side with you sometimes because I’m always coming up short, but I have no complaints considering you a worthy standard to aspire to. Once again you manage to take my wall of text and pin it up in 2 paragraphs, lol. I’m not just some nobody in the guild. Even if I wasn’t an officer, I’m the goddamn main tank /flex. We use a DKP system so I can at least weasle out of the whole “the guild has specifically geared me, thus my character is no longer my own,” while you’re stuck with Loot Council. Unlike you, I don’t feel much loyalty to our core of 15 or so that we have; though perhaps I should, and shame on me that I don’t. I really only feel loyalty to 3 people in my 10man group, with possibly 3 more to a lesser extent. But, in spirit, we are not much different. Thanks for reminding me who I wanted to be. After reading your post there was only one thing I could think: “There are days when our main healer is not there, there are days when my tanking partner is not there, there are days when any one of our core members is not there, but there is never a day when I am not there.” And even if they don’t know that or appreciate that fact; knowing that it is true, and knowing that it is something they can rely on and never have to doubt or worry over even if not doing it consciously, means the world to me. That is who I am, and that is who I am happy being. The problem is, I can be exactly that to anyone else, anywhere else. I am the rock upon which a guild can build a progression raiding team, even if I’m not the best rock out there. Is it braver to stick it out despite the cost to my enjoyment, or is it braver to admit that there is going to come a time when I’m going to be forced to move on and miss people; to chose to leave before the party is over, to go and seek my adventures and rise to new challanges? That’s just life. Whether they all eventually leave the game for real life, or Blizzard stops sustaining the game, or something changes in my life, there is going to come a time that I will likely never see or speak to any of these people again. I will miss some of them like mad.
Maybe it’s ok to admit that I want to leave to seek these adventures and test myself and to acknowledge that I’m going to miss some people; and to enjoy that I can recognize that I will miss them. If I chose to stay, am I going to have to finally admit to myself that I can’t keep pretending that there is nobody at the keyboard and that it is all an elaborate A.I. trick of the Matrix? Will I actually have to tell them my real name? Even if everyone I would miss told me honestly that it was ok for me to leave and that they would understand, and are glad that I care enough to miss them, would I still be able to leave with a clear conscience? All it takes is a couple of clicks after all, to move my character(s) anywhere I want, at any time I want. It doesn’t take any thinking or any concern to be nothing better than a Nike slogan and just do it. I’ve been making emotional-disregard decisions for the sake of making them all my life, and this time would be no different. But just how long could I keep ignoring it? Just how long could I keep from looking back and regreting that life has to change, whether by choice or by design, and that I had a role in changing it before being forced? I’ve been doing it all my life afterall. If the circumstances of my exit were different I wouldn’t feel at fault for the consequences. I can click the button, but can I live with myself afterwards?
And then, there is my partner in crime. He’s not any happier on our server than I am, but he has far less attachments to the people than I do. He left once to seek his fortune and found that he was able to stand shoulder to shoulder with some of the best. He came back because he missed me (well, mostly because they started leaving him out of hardmodes in favor of their friends after he was a large part of getting them there). We enjoy raiding together, we play well together. If I left, he would leave without question or hesitation. The problem arises when he wants to leave, and I can’t quite make myself do it. Now I don’t just have a responsibility to the people I’m leaving behind, but a responsibility to the person I’m holding back. I have no doubt that eventually, if I waffle long enough, he will leave without me and do just fine. He may even miss me and come back again. But that’s not healthy. Someone told me that I shouldn’t leave the server because of him, that I should leave it for myself, and I agree. But last time, he left and I couldn’t go with him. I chose to honor the people I was with and the commitments and responsibility I thought I had rather than leave with him. If I have to do it to him again, how am I going to be able to explain that I’m picking others over him again when we both know full well that we are of the same mind on virtually everything when it comes to this game. The first time we parted, I was just as conflicted as I am now, and left with no real deciding factor, I decided to base it all on a numbers game. He had himself and two others I liked to play with, but the people staying outnumbered him 7 to 3. This time, the ratio is really down to 2 to 1. Both of those two I won’t see very often because of real life comittments. He and I see each other every day for hours at a time. He doesn’t know my real name, but I call him by his all the time. I don’t pug 10mans unless his alt is there with my alt and we set the pace and control the party. I pass on opportunities for myself if I believe that he and I can get them together later. I’ve probably loaned him close to 50,000g and he’s paid back every copper, and I’d loan him 50 more without concern. How can I tell him “sorry, you’re the closest thing I will admit to having as a friend in this virtual world, but I’m still picking others over you?” Again. What kind of a friend is that? Why do the feelings of two people I see far less frequently than him seem to matter more to me?
I can’t see a right answer. The only right answer seems like “betray them both by chosing neither” and quitting the game, going back to the gym, forgetting I ever met them, and getting on with my life without the ultimate in kill-time that is the diversity of playing WoW. I always seem to end up in situations in life that feel no-win; and I’m constantly only given the option to chose the least of all evils. Very sad panda just does’t quite cover it. And the worst part of it all is that the clock is always ticking. I hate deadlines. I really, really hate deadlines. I don’t know if I focus or fold when the pressure is on, but I hate the pressure a deadline brings. I have gone miles and miles out of my way in real life to avoid as many as I possibly can. But the deadline for this decision is coming up. It’s going to be here tomorrow night. And I’m no closer to an answer, and I’m probably not going to be any closer when the time to decide comes. But maybe I can get by just fine with a “what the hell, it’s only a game, none of it is real and there are no people behind the keyboards (which are also imaginary btw), especially not ones with feelings. It’s all been a lie perpetrated by the matrix, and Neo is gonna be here any second and we’re gonna get the hell out,” and just turn off my game forever and pretend none of the last year and three months ever happened. I’ve done it before afterall.

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