The smallest straw
I should be in a field right now, in fact I was only a few hours ago getting ready for the first CP event of the year.
Now I'm at home.
The smallest straw can break someone with social anxiety and as a gamer it can have some seriously negative effects. The straw this time was that the tent I had bought with me didn't have any poles. It meant to stay I would need to share with someone or sleep in my car. I had offers of somewhere to stay, but I just couldn't. I needed my space, somewhere to relax and spread out, somewhere if I needed a break no one would come and interrupt me. In the end, regardless of the obvious solutions I'm now at home, missing the first CP event of the year.
I don't know if everyone knows of the Spoon theory on anxiety and depression, but I'm linking it here.
Read it? Go, please, it'll make sense I promise.
You see today I didn't have many spoons. I'd not slept well, I'd stayed up late for no good reason, I knew this weekend was going to involve me being involved in a lot of plot, and that I had a lot of rituals to perform. Basically a lot of spotlight moments I didn't necessarily feel ready for. It was also the first big event I was going to alone in 5 years (guess why, if you don't already know). It was also the first time I was going to be in the same place as the person I used to go to events with (got it now?). Each of those things is another spoon gone. So that tent took the last spoon I had and I realised I couldn't stay.
Thing is, I met my ex-wife (there we go), albeit briefly. It was fine, perhaps if I'd done that to start with I would have got some spoons back, but that happened after I already decided to go. Once you have lost that motivation, once anxiety has taken over, very little gets around it.
The thing is, its now doing the other side of things. I'm at home and all I'm telling myself is that I've failed, I've let people down. I now want to be back down there, working things out, sorting somewhere to stay, but I don't think I can face it. I don't think people will understand.
Why is this important to gaming? Because I think it can be a solution to an extent. Gaming breaks people out of the normal, the standard of day to day life. In the right doses, if it is something you want to do, than you can break out of needing those spoons. It'll give you the social confidence, and it can make you realise that there are people out there you can get along with.
Its amazing how good I can feel at events, at tournaments, or just seeing people.
Its also true that it can be soul destroying, because sometimes anxiety will win. Especially when you are in a field with hundreds of people, and all you want is a sanctum to get away from it all. That is me, today, wishing I was in a field, full of nerds, and realising just a little bit of fore sight and I would be there now. So to break my social anxiety I'm writing it down instead, not to justify my running away, but to remove it all from my head.
Of course what I now need to do is work out something to get me out of the house this weekend so I don't just Hermit.. Hermitting is a terrible idea right now, even if its the easiest thing to do.
So, all those people that are gamers, I'm afraid to say that a lot of the people you know (because I think social anxiety is very high in our niche group) are probably suffers of social anxiety. Remember that the guy across from you probably has burnt a lot of spoons just to get out to the event or tournament you are at. Hopefully, if nothing else, it will help you realise what you are doing for them is being around and helping them realise they can cope in a social situation, and the nicer you can be the less spoons they will have to burn to get through the day.