It’s easy to be reactionary, but harder to pinpoint exactly why.
My Eureka Moment
Many reading this may already know I’ve spent nearly five months trying to explain what led to my departure from a few creative teams and YouTube shows. I pleaded for them to just understand my perspective, but was always taken as malicious. It’s a new year and about time I shift gear from trying to get to the bottom of things, to moving forward with what I’ve learned. It took months of stress, confusion, misplaced trust, accusations, depression, mistakes and introspection to finally figure out the real root of the problem. At least my part of the problem.
“Why does this keep happening with every group I become part of?” I’ve been asking myself for months. I’ve finally thought back to all the websites I’ve written for, shows I’ve cohosted, and creative projects I was part of. I’ve been so busy dwelling on every single perceived slight against me that until now I hadn’t thought about what my departure from every group had in common. In short it’s my stubborn refusal to be controlled. More importantly it could be my inability to adapt from “just for fun” to “serious business”.
I Am Who I Am
The first thing the groups have in common is how I ended up joining them. Each time I was brought in by a member for the very reason they later end up disliking me – my personality and antics. I’m extremely passionate about the things I’m into, and unapologetically opinionated. I’m also thick skinned enough that my interactions with “haters” become a spectacle for all. This is how people find me on social media. It’s how I’m introduced to other members of the groups, too.
When I first start I think my shyness kicks in and I’m a bit more reserved. Once I get comfortable with everyone I’m back to being 100% myself. When my behavior is treated favorably once, I really struggle with it suddenly being treated differently by the same people later. I’m not sure if it is because my peers preferred the shy me, or if it’s the change in situation that changes their opinion of me.
Just For Fun
The situation change is the more important factor overall, I think. Every group I joined started off as “just for fun.” We’re just a group of people passionate about the same things, doing this website/show/project for fun. Completely unpaid, just volunteering our free time for the love of comics, video games, movies, anime, cosplay, etc. Not that there weren’t any perks, mind. I used to joke that I got paid in comics because they all supplied me with some. The point is I joined each group under the pretext that it was just for fun and making friends, nothing to take too seriously.
Each time, though, as soon as I was fully comfortable with my position and everyone involved, the groups/projects gained popularity. I’m not trying to imply that I’m the reason for this, just that it plays a role. I’ve been right alongside them all, sharing in the excitement for all the potential and opportunities this afforded us. If we put in more effort we could really have something here! Websites saw more traffic which led to more companies asking for reviews. Shows grew audiences big enough to interview well known creators and even actors. Projects gained enough interest to open up money making opportunities.
It was at this point each time that I thought everyone around me started to change in a bad way. From my perspective it felt like they strayed from their original goal and “sold out.” Suddenly the whole reason I was brought into the fold made me nothing more than a liability. It took me way too long to realize maybe the problem was my inability to adapt to change. This is where I get hung up on the fact that up until a certain point, my behavior was encouraged. We got to where we are with my personality in tact, but now I needed to change it. It makes logical sense, of course. We went from buddies just having fun to business partners in some form or another.
When brought onto a project or anything as a paid hire, I’m easily able to shift into “professional mode” when interacting. They sought me out for my skillset, not my antics, after all. Being brought in to have fun and make friends seems to get me too emotionally invested in everyone. The most recent group(s), especially, because I’ve been with them the longest. I felt betrayed by having to hear their complaints about me third-hand. However, in a business sense, it was just colleagues discussing how to handle a liability. I tried my best to become the person they complained that I wasn’t. I put on that muzzle and tried to prove my value. All that did was cause excess stress but still nowhere to turn to. (these are simply facts not attacks)
So I’ve realized my core problem, now what? Well, I know my dream is still to make comics. I also know I love to entertain people. I find both these things fun and have made a lot of friends because of them. However, I’m also more aware of my social inadequacies and how they effect my peers. I realize now that sometimes my rebellion against feeling controlled is mere unneeded stubbornness.
For now, I’m simply going back to basics. I’ll finish my own website where I can write what I want and make content for my own YouTube channel where I can say what I want (well, what YT will let me anyway). I’ll keep helping people with their own passions as much as I can. I’ll use what I’ve learned to try and mind my social media behavior bit more, but still without sacrificing my principles. I’d love to make a career out of this, but not at the cost of my sanity.
Whatever life has for me, I hope you’ll follow my journey.