As a few of you might already know, I have engaged in the hobby of role-playing – the journal type, where: you choose a blogging platform (LiveJournal, Dreamwidth, and InsaneJournal are popular choices), make an account for a character of your creation or your favorite fictional character, join a game or a community, and play out random scenarios or follow a loosely-guided plot in a game as if you were that character. I started off in 2009 with characters mainly from Gundam 00 characters and I eventually branched out with each canon (anime, manga, TV series) I indulged in. I would like to think that I was prolific enough and that it had become my major hobby for a few years.
In April 2015, I quit role-playing – mostly because of dwindling interest and that I had developed other principles and priorities. It was not an easy choice to make, mainly because of the people I have grown fond of, and the superfictional worlds that were being collaboratively built were, admittedly, very addictive. I just ripped the band aid off after going through several stages of denial. A part of me wanted to just keep on gritting my teeth and tough it out, while the other part, the one that I chose, just had to admit that if I’m not making time for role-playing anymore, I might truly not be interested in it anymore!
Almost a year later, I decide to look back a little and think about what I have learned in my time away from the hobby that became a significant part of my adult life.
I confess that I wanted to stay just to please other players, and those who I have become friends with. I confess that I went through a period of bitterness – or grieving – in that I wish I did not have to go through such a choice. I just wish I had more hours to the day, or more days in a week so as I could be crazy and hang out with my friends as we indulge in fiction and fantasy.
But it was in the period following that detachment that I learned how to truly look at myself, and how to stand up for who I am and to love me for me. I have become obsessed writing the make-believe lives of fictional characters that I have forgotten how I would write for myself. I have become so used to putting on these fictional characters and being aware that my playing was up for praise and critique, that I have also become more self-aware of the ideal persona that I projected online. I have become addicted to crafting endings that appealed most to me, that I became depressed when my life was not perfectly wrapped and tied with a pretty little bow.
I quit role-playing because I realize that I let it affect me too much. I used to preach that detachment is key, but I have yet to practice what I preach. I do get attached, I am impressionable. And it’s because of that I had to distance myself. I had to learn what my own voice is. I had to establish personal principles so that I won’t be so easily upset over the pettiest thing that happens. During the time that followed my quitting role playing – not that role-playing was the primary influence in my personal growth, but – I had to learn my value as a person, properly know my strengths and my weaknesses, and properly anchor my identity.
If I had any regrets during my time role-playing is that I wish I had been kinder. I wish I had been more understanding instead of getting entitlement and the praise of others get to my head. I wish I already knew then what I know now so as I could have valued others and their feelings better. I wish I had known how to be more patient and gracious.
The thing about role-playing is that you are not just committed to a craft – you are committed to your fellow players. You respect their time and their effort in the same manner that they respect yours. You respect them as people who share the same love and passion you have for role-playing. You give them the same courtesy you expect to get. The device screen is deceptive, in that the hobby happening in a virtual space does not mean the person at the other end of the internet is less human than you are.
I wish I had known those better, and put them to practice. To some, it’s a given no-brainer. To me, during that time, I just didn’t know how to deal.
If anything, my adventures in role-playing has taught me many things: I confirmed that indeed, the world is a far bigger place than I have known; that there are things that require grace and sensitivity; that my writing has room to grow; that as a person, I have room to grow; and, now that I have recently returned to Plurk and my blogs, there truly are those who stick around, even if your interests have lead you down a different road.
Now the question is: Will I return to role-playing? For now, I’ll say, “No.” I have no way to predict the future so let’s leave it at that.