Things have been going well for me lately in World of Warcraft. My normal raiding team is about to take on Blackhand, my Heroic team is progressing well, and I’ve been getting more and more loot and raising my ilvl. As my ilvl has increased, as the bosses have gone down, my confidence in my skills has gone up. I’ve gone from being a relatively clueless “newb” to being a competent Normal/Heroic raider. As anything in my life goes, I go full bore at any passion or hobby. I knew that I had my eyes on Mythic content, and I began to think that I may be ready. As Heroic bosses went down, and Normal farm became easier, it would be logical to simply progress to the next level right? Wrong.
Now I could make excuses, I was unprepared for the invitation I got tonight from a prominent member of my guild and leader of a mythic team I had applied with. I’m currently in hotel with a sub-par internet connection, I was only getting between 15-20 FPS, I didn’t have my keyboard (or keybinds), I was missing several add-ons I’m used to, and mentally I just wasn’t prepared to raid. It was a long drive to Alabama, and I was nearly ready to shut off the computer and go to bed when I found myself raiding mythic alongside people that I not only respect, but that were wildly outclassing me.
There’s two reasons I write this blog post tonight, first of all I want to talk about dealing with disappointment, which I’m definitely feeling tonight. Now any person that has ever attempted something, has probably also failed at something and felt some degree of how I feel tonight, be it better or worse. It’s natural for us to react negatively to something that we see as a failure. As someone that constantly strives to do my best at anything, do fall short doesn’t sit well with me. The important thing to remember however is that it is not how we handle success in life that will define us, but how we recover from setbacks. How we learn from “failures” is how we grow as players and as people. I had never seen a Mythic boss before tonight, and now I have. There were several more mechanics in addition to the increase in damage to deal with, as well as having to play as my “off-spec”. I learned that I need more gear, my 670 ilvl while adequate for Normal and Heroic, just didn’t give me near the stats to handle Mythic healing. The important thing is I walked away from the experience having learned that I can improve, my healing before the end of the night went up significantly from the beginning of the night. All this when placed in front of the overwhelming disappointment of not living up to my own expectations, shows me that I did win tonight, I learned things, and that’s what is truly important.
Secondly I’d like to talk about framing expectations. This is something that I’ve struggled with, and had a lot of experience with in my personal, professional, and gaming lives. I will admit to, as I mentioned above, diving into things full bore. Something this results in getting in over my head. While I don’t think that challenging myself tonight was truly “above my head”, I think with a little bit more time with the boss, and some more gear, I could make a respectable showing of myself. I mentioned expectations though to talk about setting them in general. All to often we set the bar at unrealistic levels. If I was honest with myself, I thought I was going to go in tonight, do a decent job, see some bosses die, and get invited back next week. What happened though was that I got some valuable experience, got to see what Mythic is truly like and got to spend some time with some fun people. While it wasn’t my intended result all in all it was a good time. What this experience illustrates is the strength of our perception. We often don’t realize just how strongly how we think about the end of something is affected by our expectations going in. Expecting a five star meal and getting greasy spoon style home cooked plates? You’re probably going to be disappointed with the experience. However go into that same meal with the expectation of something home cooked and simple, you’re probably going to have a great time.
I know that many Warcraft players get frustrated, be it by their skill level, the skill of others, or unrealistic expectations. I would encourage you all, as you start to get frustrated to examine the why behind that frustration. The same thing with anger, or disappointment. Trying a new boss, and starting to get frustrated because of wipes? Maybe you shouldn’t expect to faceroll them. Getting angry at LFR? Have you thought about the fact that while you may be a 4 night a week Heroic raider, most of the other folks in an LFR may be having their first or only experience with raiding in that instance? Disappointed at your performance on a particular night? Ask yourself “did I learn anything tonight”? If the answer to that question is yes, than you shouldn’t be disappointed as the hard times are when you’ll truly learn something and grow as a gamer.
All in all I don’t wish that tonight wouldn’t have happened after all, in fact I’m glad that it did. I struggled, I died, I wiped the raid more than once, but I also learned tonight. Should this team give me another shot, I will do better and if they don’t, I’ll simply be that much more prepared when I next get to raid Mythic. Tonight I didn’t lose, tonight I’m not disappointed, tonight I won because tomorrow I will be a better gamer, and isn’t that the real goal after all?