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Faction Paradox and My Social Life (a Personal Narrative)

on Thu 24 Aug 2017, 21:48
“How many ____ have you seen today?” I was nearly done typing up my glorious custom response, a direct quote from one of my friend’s earlier rants.
          “Criminal syndicates??? Voodoo death cults???? Time-travelling guerillas??? Overdramatic [idiots] who just happen to have control over the forces of reality?” Unfortunately my time ran out before I could bestow this masterpiece upon my companions, and I was forced to sit in bitter silence while other-- still amusing-- cards were played.
          To anyone outside of that game, that specific session of Cards Against Humanity, this joke would not make sense. Even people within the session might not have understood it if they weren’t participating in the chat and following along with Light’s explanation of Faction Paradox from Doctor Who. But I did, and I was, and when I shared a screenshot of my white card over the Discord chat later that evening and people laughed, I felt like I was glowing.
          When I first joined this community, a relatively small group of people I followed on Tumblr, I felt extremely out of place. Everybody else knew everybody else, and they all seemed to have these deep relationships and in-jokes that I just wasn’t a part of. I didn’t know as much about the things they liked, I didn’t feel like I had very much in common with them… It was a very awkward and somewhat stressful experience.
I would lurk in the chat, choosing to read what other people posted instead of contributing my own thoughts, because I believed that my own thoughts were inadequate, unnecessary, and unwanted. Nobody had done anything to imply this was true, of course, because they are all lovely people; it’s just something I’ve trained myself to believe. I would quietly participate in the important formal meetings, occasionally stating my own thoughts and opinions, but phrasing them in such a way that people could easily ignore them should they be annoying. I would follow the examples of my seniors-- both literal and figurative--and through doing this I learned.
          I learned about the people that I was trying to join, both on a broad and narrow scale; I learned of their beliefs and their practices, their likes and dislikes, their jokes, and so on and so forth; I gained the courage to approach them individually, and then bond over things we had in common, over shared experiences and amusements that I hadn’t known we’d shared in my previous state of reclusiveness. Through those connections I made more, and learned more, and grew both within the group and as a person, with the support of these amazing people.
          It took me a good long while to see the change that these people had brought about in me. I hadn’t truly realized it until that game, one of our many weekly games where we revelled in our in-jokes and took a moment to just calm down and laugh. After sharing these jokes and these experiences, the “Plants in the Citadel!”, the “[angry synthesizer music]”, and the “LOOMS!”, I realized that I was a part of a community; I wasn’t an outsider, an individual lingering on the edges of a group, I had made friends and found a family, and it made me so happy!
          I’m still slightly nervous and jittery around them, if for no other reason than that it is in my nature to be paranoid; but I can speak. I have a voice, and a support system. I can come to these people for anything from life advice to the next dank meme, and they have accepted me with open arms. I feel at home with them, I appreciate them, and they appreciate me. It’s a balance that took a long time to achieve, but I’m glad I stuck through until the end, because it’s turned out to be one of the most rewarding decisions of my life, and I’m sure it will lead to many more.
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