Impostor Syndrome, Advice, and the RPG Community
10 January 2014
*Before I get to the main point, let’s cover what Impostor Syndrome is for those who don’t know. Among creatives (artists, game designers, writers, you name it), there is a tendency to worry that you’re not a real artist or game designer or writer or whatever. Most of us struggle with it in some form, regardless of skill level, experience, or others’ opinions.*
Having said that, Ryan Macklin posted an excellent post today. In it, he offers encouragement and reveals the lie of this kind of thinking. This plus some discussion in various places prompted some thoughts on advice—and how we respond to it—and the RPG community.
Giving advice is always a tricky business. We’re all different, a unique blend of experiences and beliefs that make us what we are. No piece of advice is going to be helpful to everyone at every point in their lives. It’s just not. I have a tendency to take advice I hear and put my own spin on it (see my post here) before I give it to someone else. I’ll usually put a caveat on it, like “This has worked for me.”
When presented with advice, you’ve got two basic options: I agree with this, or I disagree with this. If you prefer, you can change that to mostly agree and mostly disagree. If you disagree, it’s far better to say why you disagree and what you’d change. This keeps ideas flowing. It keeps things positive. It shows others that you’re actually thinking about what they said—almost always a good idea when talking with people.
The RPG Community
I keep hearing things about people not feeling like a part of the “community” at large. Let me tell you a personal story. I consider myself to have been in the community for about 2-3 years now. I’m not an unknown, but I don’t have a lot of credits to my name (yet). I have to say that It’s a great community. It has some problems (some very serious) because it’s made up of people. People can suck sometimes. There’s a low bar of entry. It doesn’t take a lot from where I sit to be included, and I say that recognizing I fit the status quo. But I haven’t seen anyone that makes an effort to be a functioning part of the community be denied. I have seen people turned away (which sounds strange to say) for being unwilling to listen or too cocky for their own good, although my memory would fail me if you prompted me for a list.
Twitter and G+ (the lifeblood of the tabletop gaming community in my opinion) are the on-ramp. Find a name on an RPG book you love, and you’ll probably see they have either a G+ account or a Twitter account (sometimes both). Get to know the people whose stuff you’re reading. It doesn’t take much more than listening and firing off a message that says, “Hey, I like this thing you did.” I know that’s hard for some due to various factors. If you’re one of those shy people, I don’t mind doing introductions (I’ve been known to do it before). Just make sure I know you a little bit by interacting. I promise I won’t bite (and neither will anyone else I’ve met so far).