I was at the most recent Dystopia Rising New Jersey game. It was my last game as a player. What that means is the very next weekend I would be standing in front of a hundred plus people giving opening announcements, running plots, assisting my outstanding team, addressing issues on the fly that I had rehearsed in my head a few hundred times.
I was sitting, smoking hookah after all the NPC's had gone to sleep when a sudden and inexplicable fear took hold of me. This wasn't some normal in game fear, this was a genuine fear that I could not place.
It sat with me for the rest of the night and I was able to shake it before falling asleep. Not until the next morning did I know what it was. It was a sudden realization that I wouldn't be able to plan everything. In that moment, a wash of understanding came over me. My social media presence was now no longer one hundred percent mine. My actions have to be curated because I was now a public figure at least on some small niche level. People would look to me not as "Tom" or "Squatch" but as a face and employee of a business that caters to the entertainment of hundreds of people and thousands across the nation. It took until that moment to realize that my life was no longer just my own.
This isn't a complaint about this understanding, consider it a record. Having had time to process I have come to terms with everything as much as I can.
I was told that this fear would never subside as long as I was a Director, and I see that now. Fear is a hell of a thing.
I'm not afraid that I will lose my ability to express or remain autonomous though I know my social life is no longer fully my own. I'm afraid to let people down. I'm afraid I will inadvertantly insult someone. I'm afraid that my decisions on very real and very important real world matters will negatively effect people. There is an old saying that you can't please everyone all the time but I had no idea how true it was until having to juggle the wants and needs of this amazing community.
I'm afraid I won't be able to be open with my friends, that to them I shouldn't have to worry and I can just be myself all of the time. I'm afraid they won't "get it" and worse, I'm afraid I will start to resent them.
I've had my share of leading teams before in a real world setting but never on this scale.
I wanted to express this while it was still fresh and I am sure I am missing somethings but it needed to be brought to light. This isn't for me, this is for all the would be Directors and community leaders to understand what is to come and that you can cope with it. Live with the fear, take ownership of your choices. This is for players of all kinds to understand that no action is taken lightly by either myself or other community leaders. When a call is made both in game and in a real life setting, know that we have grappled with the decision on every imaginable level and at the end of the day, just like clicking post here, there is a fear sitting in the back of our minds.
This fear and feeling won't subside but I am already seeing I can handle it.
Despite everything, I wouldn't change this for the world. My dream has always been to work in a creative field, to do something that is more than just pushing papers or saying "thank you for calling...". I would have never guessed five years ago this would be where I am today and out of all these fears and changes to my life I've just discussed I think the biggest one that shakes me to my core is wondering if I will still be doing this in some capacity in another five.
I can't imagine life without this sort of drive and passion I now feel and I don't want my hang ups to get in the way.
Now to get really real.
My Dad died hating his job. He loved me, he loved his wife, he loved his siblings but he hated his job and, I think, his own life. He used to tell me not to just do what I needed, but do what I wanted. "Defending Your LIfe" (great movie, go watch it) was his favorite movie of all time and it has taken until this moment to understand why. He lived in fear for a multitude of reasons that are beyond painful for me to discuss but he taught me to tackle them head on. He always wanted to write and be a creator but he always had a fear of being seen. Right behiund me in my closet is volumes of his work from short stories and memoires to jokes and a letter of him even applying to write for David Letterman. I will be the terminus of all those stories, hopes and dreams.
Now here I sit, on display for anyone to see, writing for the best and most caring community of people I can imagine. If he couldn't overcome or cope with these fears, then I owe it to him to do it in his honor.
Ok, let's do this.
"Fear is like a giant fog. It sits on your brain and blocks everything - real feelings, true happiness, real joy. They can't get through that fog. But you lift it, and buddy, you're in for the ride of your life."
-Bob Diamond, "Defending Your Life"