Keeping Up With The Paragons

One of my major character flaws is that I am a relentless overachiever. I don’t know how to be bad at something. When I find myself in situations that involve concepts that I’m not grasping or that I don’t understand, I get very frustrated and I start to lash out. At the same time, I also don’t know how to stop and enjoy any achievements that I have earned for myself, because I’m always chasing the next big thing.

It’s really tempting to buy into this behavior, in a game like WoW. All around you are examples of people who are possibly doing better than you. Realm forums have progression threads, Twitter is abuzz with bloggers and other players boasting about their achievements and discussing strategies, the Dungeon Finder has a minimum iLevel to participate in certain activities. All of those things can conspire to bring out a nasty voice in your head that screams “You’re not good enough!”

I remember during the heyday of Icecrown Citadel , I took a three month break from the game. I was severely burnt out. I wasn’t sure I wanted to heal anymore. Hell, I wasn’t even sure that I wanted to play the game, period. I went into hiding with a friend’s guild and decided to try the more casual side of things for once. It didn’t take long for people from previous guilds to find me and for them to try and engage me in conversation to find out what I had been up to all this time.

Ex-guildie: “Well, well. Oestrus. What marvelous things have you been up to lately?”
Me: “Oh you know… I’ve been leveling a shaman alt that I really enjoy and my guild is raiding. They raid three days a week and it’s fun.”
EG: “Fascinating! How far into Icecrown Citadel are you?”
Me: “We’re on Sindragosa, actually. It’s going really well!”
EG: “Well, well. Heroic Sindragosa! It’s good to see you’re keeping up with the rest of us!”
Me: “Erm, no. Regular Sindragosa. Just… regular.”
EG: “Oh dear. You haven’t even gotten a Lich King kill yet?”
Me: “I did on 10 man! See?!”
EG: “Heh, nobody counts 10 mans as progression and I’ll bet you haven’t even completed your Val’anyr yet.
Me: “But we’re doing hard modes on 10 man and I have 23 fragments and I’m pugging Ulduar for the rest and…”
EG: “Pugging Ulduar? Tsk tsk. How the mighty have fallen!”

I didn’t know what to say to that. I went from being a top tier raider in some serious minded guilds to wiping week after week on Sindragosa, followed by the Lich King, when other guilds were six months ahead of that (at least) in terms of becoming Kingslayers and pugging Ulduar in my spare time. Nothing I could say in my defense seemed to hold a candle to not only the criticism I was facing from others, but the criticism I was directing at myself. Needless to say, that nasty little voice in my head was having a field day.

“They’re really great people!” “That’s nice, they can’t even kill the Lich King.”
“I have a lot of fun here!” “Failing is never fun.”
“I have responsibilities and I manage stuff.” “It’s not your job to do that.”
“They’ll get it eventually.” “They will never get it.”

I didn’t know how to deal with the fact that there were people in guilds I used to be in, that I may or may not have ended on good terms with, that I knew I was as good as or better than that were seeing more content than I was. That infuriated me. I should be there. That should be me. I deserve those things! Why don’t I have that?!

So, I left that guild and joined a guild on another server that I ended up seeing a lot of progression with, very quickly and then I found myself in the opposite situation. My inner monologue now went a little something like this:

“Look at this great gear I have!” “You were fine without that gear.”
“I finally have my Val’anyr!” “Yeah, but now the other healers hate you for it.”
“We’re #5 on the server!” “For how long?”
“They really like me!” “These people are not your friends.”

In my never ending quest to be the best and show up my rivals and frenemies that I had made through the years, I blinded myself to what I really wanted in this game. I wasn’t even sure I knew what I wanted. I gave up the opportunity to run with really great people, who liked me for me (and I can be a handful), where I had some small amount of power, responsibility and clout and I threw it all away for a few more epics, a handful of extra boss kills, some credibility and a bump to my image. Was it really worth it?

I have learned a lot in my travels and before joining my current guild, I had a revelation of sorts. I want it all. I want to be in a guild where I can be myself and be around like-minded people, who want to raid and see content, but not at the cost of being something we’re not or being less than human beings. I don’t want to be at the pinnacle of progression, but I don’t want to be scraping the barrel in terms of that, either. I want to be relied upon and trusted and given some amount of responsibility, to share my opinions and thoughts on how I think things should be run or could be improved upon. I want to be part of a guild with strong leadership that I can rely on and that I can put my faith into and that I know has the best interests of myself and the guild in mind. I don’t feel that’s asking for too much.

I really feel like after all this time that I may have found the right guild for me. Of course, I’m probably jinxing it by saying that and I will have a seriously hearty laugh if things fall apart four months from now and I’m guildless and using this blog as a way to find a new home. But it feels right for now. It’s mighty tempting to go on to the websites of other guilds and see what they’re doing. I still seethe a little bit when I see what others have that I don’t. I still have to resist the urge to feel bad about myself and to secretly see if they’re looking for holy priests anytime soon. The temptations and frustrations are still there, but I’m working on quelling those and appreciating what I have. We start officially raiding in 25 mans next week and to say I’m hungry for it is an understatement.

I want it. I want it so bad that it hurts. I want to kick ass and have a slew of stories to tell. I want to share advice about my experiences and what I have learned. It will happen in time. I know it will. For the first time in a long time I am happy with what I have.

You should be, too.  And if you’re not maybe it’s time for you to also re-examine what it is you want out of your guild and try to find out if it’s there.  If that doesn’t work, it may be time to move on.

21 thoughts on “Keeping Up With The Paragons”

  1. I share many of those back-and-forth feelings at times. But I will never leave my guild because so many of us are friends who know each other “irl”. My guild is huge and is filled with mostly great people and their wives, husbands, brothers, sisters, roomates. We do not recruit nor do we ever need to because no matter what we do we continue to grow, in fact right now we are on an invite freeze because we have too many initiates that need to either be given to green light or the boot. We progress more slowly than others but we do have a core 10m group that will begin this season of raiding in a few days. We did down LK regular with the 5% buff, but got as far as Sindy on heroic before all of us burned out on ICC. It can be frustrating when you’re so involved with your class, have a blog or twitter, think about numbers and do pretty much as much research and work into your character as anyone from the uber guilds but you do not yield the same rewards. But then I remember the times I’ve heard vent raiding conversations of more progressed guilds and the love for my own guild grows. I like being around people who treat each other well and with respect, who are mature and level-headed and don’t scream insults at each other or put each other down for their mistakes.

    Another way to look at this as a healer is that healing less-progressed people is more of a challenge. 🙂

    • I think that was one thing that turned me off from being terribly hardcore was the social dynamics. I agree with you on how you feel when you hear certain progressed folks talk. Try listening to the chatter behind a Cuties Only video or someone from that league. They’re not like you and me! Many of the social norms or dynamics go right out the window and it seems like an erosion that happens with too much success or not keeping yourself in check.

      I have a lot more respect for guilds that can still behave like human beings and still achieve a lot of success. I don’t feel it has to be an either/or proposition.

      At the end of the day, it’s about finding out what you want and what really means more to you and going for it. It’s way too easy to think about what you don’t have or think you want, at the expense of what you already have or could have.

    • Great! Now I sound like one of the insane Dwarves in Howling Fjord whose brains you need to saw open for that one Horde quest.

      *covers her head and runs*

  2. ““They really like me!” “These people are not your friends.””

    Ouch. But then again, maybe that’s how overachievers need to treat each other. I’ve noticed the hardcore achiever types in my guild tend to come across as users however nice they are.

    I think there are actually many different ways to run a successful guild, and it’s a good idea to find the one that suits you.

  3. I didn’t so much mean that I didn’t like them. I meant that I was in a situation where I was used to being a social butterfly and chatting it up with folks, when in this new guild that wasn’t how things were done. It was very business. People didn’t hang out on Vent or notice when you logged. It was purely about the numbers and what you could do for them and for what they could do for you.

    That tends to be a common dynamic in progressed guilds. You’re not a person, you’re a toon. You don’t talk, you heal. Certain exchanges take place.

  4. Great post, O. I really think this will resonate with a lot of people. I believe there are a LOT of people who have those very same conversations with themselves. Nice job. 🙂

  5. I compare raiding guilds to my work life and social life. Remember there’s a saying that goes, ” If you’re career is going great, then your social life must suck. If your relationship is fantastic, you’re gonna get fired!”

    It’s hard to keep a balance, I think every raider can relate tothat. We always want everything we feel we deserve. I’m happy that you found a new home, I’m still on the lookout for mine. 🙁

  6. I go through a reasonable amount of this. I’m actually the leader of my guild and in many ways that makes it tremendously harder. I want to see more, to do more, to experience more, but not at the expense of the people that I play with. My desires for what I want out of the game and what I want for the guild are at odds currently, which creates a great deal of internal strife. I’m working on that. I think I’m nearly there. I’ve finally cut through some of the BS surrounding the whole business and have begun to see things more clearly in terms of how to find a comfortable balance between all of my wants in WoW.

    But that doesn’t mean that I don’t occasionally want to gnash my teeth a little about things not going one way or the other. 😉

  7. Thank you for sharing these thoughts, Oestrus. Absolutely spot on! I know many people who have gone through the same journey, mostly because they are now guilded with me. It took me 6 years to find and build a guild home that encompasses the values you highlight with “I don’t feel that’s asking for too much.” You are right, it isn’t asking too much. From my perspective, that’s how it should be. It mirrors the values of many work places that place employee engagement at the top of the priorities.

  8. I know these feelings very well and I’ve probably had my high time between vanilla WoW and TBC. I can look back and say “I’ve had everything” from first benedictions, to all the BiS most raiders at the time could dream of, to seeing our guild rank skyrocket on the server charts. But the problem is: the race never ends. and: you’re really a big fish in a small pond, there are other servers, other guilds, too many to count.

    So halfway through TBC the whole gear- and status hunt lost its glamour for me. we’re like donkeys running after the proverbial carrot on a stick. you will never get there because the game always goes on. you have your little ‘high moments’ until more content comes in, another guild pops up, your own guild loses players etc. etc…

    I refused to be a donkey at some point and started to relax about decorations that mean so little, especially when the whole welfare-mania began. and the oldschool player-part in me would also like to believe that I am above cyber-epeen by now. I know what I know and I know what I can do and so do those that matter.

    I’ve found my personal replacement and satisfaction in running my own guild as co-GM and keep it a constant success both socially and in raiding terms for several years now. I have found it not only a hundred times the bigger challenge, demanding on so many levels, but also a lot more rewarding, fun and long-lasting. 🙂

  9. Ugh, totally feeling this. When the guild with all my friends was falling apart, I managed to get poached by the server rank 1 guild.
    In cata, I’m back to a 10-man rebuild from the core of the first guild, and get pangs of jealousy now that one of my friends from the server first guild was trying out heroic halfus.

  10. Dealing with the dissonance between what you have and what you want can be difficult. Satisfying yourself with your “haves” is also difficult.

    I want to see and be apart of progression and getting the 25 man heroic kills. I’m somewhat jealous of the guilds that achieve server firsts and I’ll admit visiting guild websites and hover over their apply button. I want the shiny gear, the achievements, and possibly even the recognition that comes with being part of an “elite” guild.

    Yet, every time my finger hovers over that button I remind myself that I am part of a great guild. Sure, we haven’t touched most of the new raids yet and have only managed to down Halfus twice on 10 man. I am not geared, but I am part of a guild that talks to each other. I have made friends in this guild and it would really hurt to leave them. Yes, I miss my shiny gear, but gear is nothing compared to the relationships I have formed.

    While part of me wants to be a member of the “elite”, the majority wants to be happy, and frankly, I am happy to go slow, take my time, and enjoy things.

  11. …bloody hell. I know the feeling all too well. I’ve struggled with it non-stop ever since I started playing games in which there is a way to measure “progression.” Between expansions and games, I always end up fluctuating, vowing to “step down” (or “step up”) and avoid my past “mistakes” to achieve a better gaming experience for myself.

    For me, it never works. I always end up feeling that my very first guild was actually the one I had the happiest memories with. Most likely because when I joined the first guild (and by “first” I mean the first guild I raid with, not my first leveling guild, etc.) I join as a newbie, with no expectations and nowhere to go except up. After I have a foundation and an idea of where I stand (and what I “deserve”) this knowledge begins to breed discontentment.

    I don’t have the ambition to be at the very front of the pack. I don’t have the personality to be able to deal with the pressure. However, I want to play with people with at least average IQ, capable of learning from their mistakes. People on my level who won’t be dragging me (and the rest of the raid) down. Is that so much to ask?

  12. I lead a guild through the progression in Burning Crusade and it was one of the most rewarding online experiences I have ever had. We built the guild through a very intensive review system at the beginning of BC that looked not for great players but great people that had the ability to listen and learn. We struggled for a while but became really close and soon were knocking out one server first after another. It was amazing time but I was proudest of the way our guild handled it as we went out of our way to not brag about our achievements and we threatened anyone with a gkick if they trolled trade about the “noobs”. This worked well for about a year but real life happens and people leave and you need to find replacements. Slowly the guild changed and officers burnt out trying to keep the new players in line. I quit as an officer during WotLK and slowly saw the guild I helped build turn into just another group of merc’s with no soul. I’m now at the point that I need to find a new home but it’s hard when you’ve put so much of yourself into something. The best solution would be to change servers to make a fresh start somewhere else but that’s impossible since I have 8 toons and that is too costly.

  13. I remember doing this ages ago, back when in college it was a race to finish The Bard’s Tale and Ultima IV and V. (Okay, so I dated myself. So what?) When I started playing WoW, I made a point of not trying to get caught up in the “oh noes! everyone is getting done but me!” feeling. Even so, it’s hard to avoid, and I have backslid on occasion.

    Best of luck trying to get that balance in the game.

  14. I realize this is gauche of me – I linked to your excellent post but hadn’t yet commented. This really resonated with me, as I’ve been in a variety of guilds with various levels of commitment and progression. I think it’s human nature to worry about what we aren’t accomplishing, but some things are harder to put a value on. You can say, “We were server first to kill this boss,” and other people can recognize that, whereas it’s harder to say, “I like and respect every single person in my guild and I have fun playing with them.”

    Of course the ideal is to have both of those things, but it’s easier to recognize and envy one than the other!

  15. My guild went through a similar change in the past year. We were top 10 on the server throughout tier 9 and most of ICC, but by the time we got to the Lich King on 25s, most of our solid 25s team had burned out and weren’t logging in anymore. We replaced them with what we could get for recruits, which was really subpar players, and that just caused more top players to burn out.

    We all like to hang out, but no one likes to wipe over and over again because we have to teach *another* person how to not stand in defiles and kill val’kyr. Eventually, we just ground down to a 10 man guild, and we have yet to get back up to 25 solid raiders. There’s nights right now where our performance swings wildly because some of us are pretty good players and a few folks just don’t cut it.

    Every time this happens, I think, “I should app to a new guild”. But I’ve got a lot invested in this group. I think, for better or worse, this will probably be my last guild. If it falls apart, maybe it will be time to quit WOW for good. Going to one of those progression guilds just isn’t worth it anymore.

  16. Matticus summed up the best posts of 2010 not many days ago. 1st day of 2011 and Oestrus already pwn them all with the best post of next year. I wish you were in my guild.


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