My very first WoW Wednesday post was about tanking and I’m going to go back to that again. I’ve been tanking more and more and getting much better at it. It’s been very nice, especially, to have some experienced players with me, giving advice during an actual dungeon. And I’ve had some excellent tank moments. During one fight in Ulduar, which is an endgame raid, not only was I able to tank a mob, but was also able to freeze and destroy spark, all without missing a beat. I felt on top of my game. But then a couple of days ago, I was tanking a dungeon, one I’d successfully tanked before, and we wiped many times before I had to call it quits for dinner. I just couldn’t get my act together for that one. I’ve had several moments as a tank where I literally can feel my heart racing as we go into a situation because I’m so worried that I’m going to mess it up. I know how unfun it is to die over and over again. I’m pretty patient about these things but some people aren’t.
One thing that’s occurred to me as I’ve been playing and mostly in my role as tank, is the role that confidence plays in doing some of these things well. I’ve seen bad tanks who’re all overconfident and talk a big game and then can’t keep aggro. I’m just the opposite. I have almost no confidence at all going into a fight and will sometimes even warn people. But then, most of the time, things work out fine. And I’ve come to realize that my confidence (or lack thereof) in game is similar to my confidence in real life. We academic types talk a lot about the impostor syndrome. I feel that more often than I should. I don’t think my writing is as good as anyone else’s. I think I shouldn’t do this or that because I’m not good at it. I’m constantly comparing myself to others and find myself lacking. Sometimes even in things I *know* I’m good at.
What WoW has taught me is that it takes practice to be good at something and it takes work and it takes constant tweaking to get something right. I’ve logged many hours playing WoW. To be good at anything, you have to log many hours, something Malcolm Gladwell talks about in Outliers. I’ve also learned that even if you’re not so sure of yourself, it’s okay to try something and that it’s okay to mess up. You learn from your mistakes. When I feel my heart racing, I can think, what’s the worst thing that could happen? Everyone could die and we’d have to do it again. Big deal. Even if we have to give up or if I have to bow out and let a more skilled person take over for me, it’s okay. And applying that to real life, I have to remember it’s okay to stick your neck out. Fear of failure only leads to actual failure. It sure would be nice to have armor, maybe emotional armor, like I have in WoW or multiple do-overs. But really, most things we do do have do-overs. You just have to take advantage of them.