Vidyala has an all-too-common tale about Fail PuGs. This got me to thinking about why I’m not doing a few things in the game at this point. Why I’m not doing Cataclysm dungeons on my one level 85 character. Why I don’t seem to be very concerned about getting any of my alts to 85. (I got one of them to Northrend and now she’s just sitting in Borean Tundra. The others haven’t even made it that far.) And it’s got me wondering if how much I’m enjoying Holy paladins really matters, after all.
I started playing WoW the day Ulduar came out. We didn’t actually have WotLK at the time and were installing Burning Crusade. The night drug on, waiting and waiting for patches to download and install. At some point, before we left everything going and went to bed, I said, “By the time it’s all done another patch will be out,” and my husband said, “It won’t take THAT long!” We were ready to play the next day… me rolling a character for the first time and him rolling up a new one because it’d been quite some time since he’d been subscribed and playing with guys from work… and there was a patch to download! A brand new patch, complete with the Ulduar raid and warlocks getting more soul shards than they’d ever be able to use.
I told him there’d be another patch by the time all those patches downloaded!
WoW had been described to me in a way that made me think it had pretty much everything I wanted in a game, and nothing I didn’t want would be mandatory. For the most part, that’s been true. The biggest things I didn’t want were being forced to do PvP and being forced to work in groups to get through the game. PvP is easy to avoid when I don’t feel like participating because I just don’t roll a character on a PvP server. But it’s gotten harder and harder to feel like I can avoid having to work in groups.
Why do I want to avoid groups? Because I have social anxiety. I didn’t always have it, and it’s surprising to people who knew me when I was younger when they find out I can’t even order my own food in a restaurant anymore because that means talking to a complete stranger. Until about seven or eight years ago I was one of those people who thinks “strangers” are just friends you haven’t met yet. “Social butterfly” would really be putting it mildly. My doctors can’t say for sure, but it seems the social anxiety is likely related to the rare neurological illness I have that mimics a brain tumor. The simplest explanation is that some things have been reprogrammed in my brain.
Even among people I know, I do best in small groups. Three or four people? I can be the life of the party… if only I had any desire to go to a party. Six or seven people? I want to go home, and I want to go NOW!
This is a big part of why I don’t do raids. Even if the entire group was too over-geared to fail and we were just doing it for the acheivement, the problem is that I will freak out and want to leave with that many people in the group. It’s also why I don’t queue for dungeons alone. The first time I did heroic Azjol-Nerub, I got confused about what was going on in one part and just stood there through a whole fight. Then I told the tank (a friend I had queued with) that I was very sorry, but I really needed to leave the group. He told me it was okay, and told everyone else I had to go so I wouldn’t have to tell them.
This is why I don’t join guilds. I learned the hard way that joining a guild may sound awesome, but I’m going to freak out and want to leave the first time attention is called to me in any way. I didn’t log into a character for several weeks, waiting until I knew no one else in the guild was logged in, before I left one guild. Why? Because I was excessively uncomfortable with multiple people saying “Grats!” every time I got an acheivement, and I was such a low level that the achievements were happening very frequently. It got worse when someone started saying “Grats!” every time I leveled because they had an addon that told them. And yes, everyone else got the same treatment. And no, I didn’t care when it was other people being congratulated. I just didn’t want to feel so… noticed.
I honestly don’t know what made me go for it when I was told the most recent guild I joined was an option. I knew nothing about the guild, other than the person extending the offer was a member. The first night was so pleasant that I thought later, “It’s going to break my heart in a couple of days when I want to leave.” It’s been a couple of weeks now, though, and I’m getting more and more comfortable there. I’ve rolled a few more alts so I can do all my Horde playing in that guild. I look forward to logging in and talking to those folks at night. There is, apparently, one guild in the game that works for me.
What does the social anxiety have to do with healing? (This is a blog about being a new healer, after all.) I get disappointed when there are things my social anxiety prevents me from doing. Ulduar is the one raid in the game I’ve ever really, really, REALLY wanted to do. And I want to do it on heroic, because I REALLY want to turn in the reply code! (The whole Algalon/reply code thing has sort of personal significance for me.) I don’t see it happening. I pushed myself to get to end-game Wrath, but then my social anxiety made it clear to me that I would not be seeing the inside of Icecrown Citadel, and I do not have the Kingslayer title on the one character who could have gotten it if I didn’t have such horrible social anxiety. I decided some time back that the whole point of the game is really to find Brann Bronzebeard* and the social anxiety keeps me out of content that would allow me to do that, thereby “winning” the game.
I can deal with all of that. I can do other things I enjoy. I don’t have to raid. I don’t have to do dungeons. It will not affect my real life that a bunch of elitist pricks think I’m a waste of skin because I’m not doing Cataclyms heroics every night. I have new questlines to do. I have vanity pets and mounts to collect. Herbs need to be picked, and I don’t see the rest of you picking them when you’re doing heroic after heroic and raid after raid. PEACEBLOOM IS GROWING OUT OF CONTROL, PEOPLE!
But I need to be in groups to heal. I’m doing a fine job of questing as a Holy paladin, but the only healing I ever do that way is Word of Glory on myself. I really enjoy healing as a Holy paladin. I enjoy how easily I’ve taken to knowing what heal to use when. I’m not panicking and asking myself if this is an okay time for Holy Light, or do I need to use Flash of Light, and why is the tank dead already? There are things I need to improve, but I’m actually pretty good at knowing after the first couple of trash pulls how much damage the tank tanks and how fast, and I’m not stumbling over my buttons looking for the right heal. I have to pay attention. I have to remain aware of what’s going on. But there’s a sort of “I don’t know how I do it, I just do it” I experience with healing that I’ve never experienced as dps.
I want to heal. I want to heal you and all your friends. I want to heal you through trash and bosses. I want to heal you upstairs, downstairs, in the basement, and underwater. I want to heal you in a box. I want to heal the hunter’s fox. I want to heal you on a train. I want to heal you in the rain. I want to heal you here, I want to heal you there… I want to heal you everywhere! I’ll heal if you’re named Greeneggsandham. I’ll heal you if you’re named Samiam.
But that means being in groups. And that scares me. It scares me more the higher I get in level. The dungeons become more complex, the attitudes get nastier, and people become less forgiving over even the smallest mistakes while also insisting on making some of the bigger mistakes. (Yeah, I’m looking at you, Mr. “CC is for Sissies”.) So I’m putting this question out here… What do you do when the role you enjoy requires doing something you’d rather not be doing?
*Explanation about Brann Bronzebeard: Obviously, I wasn’t playing when Vanilla WoW came out, but it looks to me like this was the teaser site. (Somebody who knows, please correct me if I’m wrong.) The call for heroes comes when the journal ends because Brann has gone missing! Of course, no one found Brann in Vanilla… but his letter was found and everyone had the chance to meet his gorilla when they delivered. Near the end of the game content. Brann wasn’t in Outland as far as anyone saw in Burning Crusade, but he turned back up in Northrend. Near the end of the game content. And now he’s in Uldum! Near the end of the game content.
We’re chasing after Brann Bronzebeard, folks. Find him, you’ve finished the game. Everything that comes after that is just to keep you interested until the next chunk of content that sends you chasing after him (again) gets added.