That's what it was like for me, a numbness. No laughing or joy. No desire to go out and do anything. I had a lack of ambition, a lack of self esteem and confidence; confidence that used to be there when I was younger; confidence that had somehow escaped me when my body was ravaged by pregnancies. That confidence had helped me accomplish goals and now it was somehow missing. While I lost some looks I also realized how unimportant my looks truly were to me and how I wanted people to appreciate me much more for what was inside my head and heart than for what size my ass was.
In 2008 I found RenaissanceKingdoms. I met a guy who was born in the game a few days after me. He seemed very funny and very honest. We talked online for a while and I soon made other friends. We had long conversations about the ranching of cows and sheep in the game. Silly mundane activities seemed interesting but that didn't really hold my interest. What did were writing story lines in a forum and hanging out in the taverns at night drinking virtual beer. This is called role playing in RK. Anyway, I remembered how much I loved to write. I remember the rush I got when I read certain books and it all came back to me; my love of reading and writing.
So, once I had started writing, people in the game saw my active and thoughtful mind and I was quickly recruited into politics and into clubs. In Scotland we have clans, where you support each other in the game as well as real life. You can form real friendships here. The cool thing is that my very best friends in the world are in Canada, New Zealand and England. I remember when I first met someone in Germany. It seemed fantastical to me, that I could have friends on the other side of the world. Now it's just "normal" to me. So, there I was enjoying sitting on my computer, socializing with people who had never seen my face before. I escaped the real world by reading or writing fiction; taking trips I've never taken, accomplishing huge goals in political systems or rallying the people in Scotland.
For the first time since college I wrote grandiose speeches and truly moved people with my words. The interesting thing about that was that people agreed with me, enjoying my speeches and my phrasing. Suddenly people I'd never met believed in me and my cause. If I ran in an election they voted for me, had faith in me. People appreciated my insight and had confidence in my abilities. They saw my intentions as good, loving, compassionate. They read my personality as unique and genuine. I heard, "Wow. You're a very real person." over and over. I received compliments and commendations that I felt I would never receive in the real world, all while raising my kids at home. I don't know if there is a place in the real world where you can get true praise; praise for who you are and what you do, having nothing to do with your looks or social stature.
I could rally a town, a county and a country. Mind you, I now realize that this would all be easier to do if I had used a male character because even in this fantasy land there is chauvinism. You can't escape that. However, it's more obvious than the real world, where the chauvinism is ingrained subconsciously.
As a woman in the real world I was taught to work hard, obey your man and go with the crowd. If you have a problem suck it up rather than make a fuss because as a woman you will just look bossy or naggy and the worst sin that a woman can ever commit is being selfish. Looking back at young me . . . the one who actually thought this I can not believe how naive I was. I missed so many chances to grow and learn and succeed. I mean I was recruited by the FBI out of college, but at the time I had a boyfriend who was having a hard time and didn't want to leave him. I look back on this and can not believe I stayed the safer course. Was I just afraid to grow up or was I obeying what I had been taught? I can't say for sure.
What I do know is that putting my social skills in print seems to be my talent. Maybe that's because I can back-space on my keyboard, but in real life once you make a comment it's out there . . . and you can't take it back. How many times have you said something and then thought, "Oh, I wish I had phrased that better." Well, online you can. You can edit most forum posts . . . delete your post completely if you felt it was too hasty. You'll still make mistakes, but very different ones.
So, what did I find escaping in Renaissance Kingdoms? Well, surprisingly I found myself, an autonomous, strong woman who is capable of great things. I am a person that will never stick to the stereotypes I was taught. I can now take criticisms that I could never take before, face foes that would have shrunk me before. Maybe I grew up in RK or maybe RK just came along for the ride. I'm not sure. What I can say is that I stand before you today a more successful and outspoken person, a happier person because I had a chance to learn more about myself.
Will I make more mistakes? You bet. Will they shrink me? Probably not as much as before. I'm ready to face the world now, alone or not. Bring it on world.
P.S. Photoshop is pushed to the max when creating banners for these forums. They are amazing works of art. Here are some of my favorites: