The internet was something I taught myself. In a lot of ways, I treated it how I treated real life. Never really interacting or making meaningful conversation, being on the outskirts of lively debate and useful information was enough. There was nothing lively about me when I was young, and I skated just so, under the radar.
However, very much unlike my real life, I grew comfortable. It came to the point where I could express myself to the fullest extent. While I struggled with severe anxiety, I effortlessly led raids and was an extremely active member in guilds across many different games online.
It was through these online adventures with actual people that I did a lot of growing up. I wanted to add “unfortunately” to the end of that sentence, but it was probably the best place to grow up. Those games provided me with an avatar, who I painted as being someone other than the self I was extremely uncomfortable with. We acted the same, however. Our hearts were kind and noble, and our talents were more like powers. But as I began to see value in myself, I began to become disvalued in the eyes of some particular people around me.
I was really taken aback with how some of my own guild members would harass me during quests or other activities. Even people I didn’t really know well would make inappropriate comments, either in passing or as a regular thing. However, instead of standing up for myself at that time, I just played along with whatever they wanted. One of my ex-guild leaders said that he had a fondness for girls who were “people pleasers” or “couldn’t say no”. He felt like he needed to protect them. However, he didn’t protect me. If anything, I was his favorite punching bag, but he made it seem like an honor to be abused by him. This became a recurring theme. He warped my thinking so that it became difficult to leave. I felt like I didn’t stand a chance of escaping.