Guild Wars 2 has a feature called “Living Story”, and it just finished with an arc named Flame and Frost. The finale for the event had a dungeon, the Molten Facility, where a team of players had to go and shut down the weapons facility of two aligned and evil factions–Flame Legion charr, and the dredge. Since this was a once-in-a-lifetime dungeon, I knew I had to play it. And since I’d already had some good experience with GW2 dungeons in the past, I was really looking forward to it.
The only problem was finding people to go with me. The time I decided to do it happened to be the least populated time on the server, and I was stuck searching for a group for quite a while. An hour or so later, I found another player looking for a group and we partnered up, and then gradually built up a five-player party. We were ready to go and, full of anticipation, I was more than happy to initiate the dungeon and take the lead in getting it started. But because it was only my first time doing the Molten Facilities, and there were others in the party who’d done it before, I quickly took a following role after that.
We did all right, considering that it wasn’t the easiest dungeon around, and we were working pretty well together. Things were going smoothly when, without warning, one of my group mates disconnected. When it became clear that he wasn’t coming back, we all agreed to kick him from the party and see if we could find someone else to fill in. My group mates asked guild members and friends, but no one came up with a suitable replacement, and so we debated moving on with just four of us.
“Do we need five people for the end?” I asked, hoping that we might be okay with just four people, if we worked our butts off. “It’s tough with just four,” someone answered, and then shocked me when he said, “But it’s your call.”
My call? Since when?! For a moment, I panicked. I wasn’t meant to be the leader–I just wanted to follow what everyone else was doing and stay quiet in the back. I didn’t want to have to make decisions. I’d just gotten over my fear of grouping, for crying out loud, and now I was being asked to actually lead the group? I was caught up with apprehension, but I pushed myself past it and answered that we would hold out for as long as we could before getting a fifth member. “It’s worth a shot,” I said, still recovering from the shock of being made leader. We agreed to stick it out and continued on with the mission.
When we were right before the end, facing some pretty tough enemies, our group kept getting wiped and it was clear that were were going to have to find a replacement. “Please find someone else,” a group mate said to me, “we won’t make it through the end.” Again, they were turning to me to make the decisions, and again I felt the thrill of nervousness. But I steeled myself. I could do this. No–I had to do this. They were depending on me to save our group and help us get through the end of the dungeon. I couldn’t let them down.
So I began a frantic search for a last member, right in the middle of the dungeon. My efforts ended up being unnecessary, however, when another group mate’s friend agreed to come out. We welcomed the newest member and pushed on to the end–beating both final bosses and escaping the dungeon before it collapsed. When we were done, there was much celebration and many thank yous all around. Our little group dismantled, returning to our corners of the world successful and happy, and I was finally given time to breathe.
I was still stunned that I had been put in a leadership role I hadn’t known I was assigned. At first, there had been nervousness at being elected into such an important position. I’d for so long thought of myself as a mediocre player, nobody worth listening to and certainly not someone you want to take orders from, but apparently my group thought otherwise. What had driven them to accept me as leader, I’ll never know, but there is one thing I know for sure: I’ve never felt so good in my whole game experience as I did when I realized they were counting on me.
I felt closer then to being a hero than I can remember ever having felt before. Being leader enforced in my mind that I was a valuable member of the team. I was good enough to lead them, and they did respect me as a player. They were depending on me and I had a duty to them, and the feeling of connection between us–a group of ragtag strangers–was remarkable.
Turns out, things can always get better.
If you read all three parts of this, right to the end, then I both applaud you and sincerely thank you. The purpose of writing this wasn’t just to inform you of my oh-so-tragic, happy-ending social gaming life, or to entertain you with a hopefully interesting story. Instead, I have a more serious message to convey.
There are always going to be people who strip you down and criticize you. They blame you for their mistakes and make you feel worthless, foolish, and humiliated. Suddenly, all of your choices are wrong in their eyes and everything you’ve done has been a failure. There will always be those jerks who tear you apart, but there will also be the heroes and the saviours. The ones who are too busy being happy to care that you fall off a ledge. The ones who understand that everyone makes mistakes and can laugh about it. The ones who will look up to you and respect your decisions. There will be those people who accept you as part of the team, who will make you feel important, and who will never criticize you. Those are the people who are worth spending your time with. Those are the people whom you want to share an adventure with.
So while you deal with the jerks and the doubts and the heartache, don’t ever stop doing what you love. Don’t stop grouping just because someone tells you “yer terrible :/”–keep on grouping so that you can become the leader of a team. Don’t stop writing or singing or dancing or loving or doing whatever you like to do just because someone says you’re no good at it. You’ll never be admired if you give up early on. You’ll never be a hero if you don’t have the spirit to fight for the title.
And it’s never, ever too late.
Have you ever had to fight past the jerks in order to meet the heroes?
May you always remember your own worth as a hero, and have the self-confidence to persevere through the heartache.