Friday, May 22, 2015

Chapter Two: In Which Edyth Obliterates Her Comfort Zone

If you haven't already, please read Chapter One first.

The moment in which I became a student didn't happen at the event that day. As I said, reality can be ill-timed. For a variety of reasons, we were unable to reconnect later in the day to have an actual talk. But in retrospect, that was undoubtedly for the best. My request was out there, hanging in the air for him to consider, and that was exactly where it needed to be. If I'd gotten an immediate yes, I would have been outwardly happy, but inwardly concerned that he was throwing due diligence to the wind, completely negating how much work I'd put into the whole thing up to that point.

In reality, the moment I became a student happened that Monday morning, through a Facebook chat. I hope you can appreciate the irony there.

Some Laurel/student relationships start off as friendships, or at least comfortable familiarity with each other. This new relationship was not one of those. While he and I certainly knew each other, we could barely have been considered personal acquaintances. I'd only ever known him as a Peer. First as a Knight, then Royalty, and finally as a Laurel. And as Chapter One likely told you, having a Peer like that in my circle had been unfathomable to me up to that point.

The honest truth was that, while I was looking for a relationship that was friendly, I really did not expect that an actual friendship would be a part of it. It was enough for me that I liked him as a person (as much as I knew him) as well as a Peer, and that I held him in the greatest respect. In all my thinking through the act of finding a Laurel, I'd only ever seen it as a business transaction. Two partners working toward their goals in tandem.

One by one almost immediately, however, I saw the barriers that separate strangers from friends breaking down between him and I. As in introvert with a capital I, having lived so long under that rock of isolation, I would never have thought myself capable of leaving the comforts of my home and family to spend a weekend in a strange house with a person, a Peer, I still barely knew. But in January, I did exactly that. I talked, listened, laughed and shared. Topics ranged all over, not just about the business of being his dependent. And the more we talked, the weaker the hold my comfort zone had on me.

I'd heard it said before that the relationship between Masters and their dependents, when it was right, was like a "mystical connection." I think that sounds like hokey, new age drivel, but I found myself saying things like "it feels right", "it's weird that we didn't know each other sooner", or "it's going so well." So it may be hokey, but it's apparently true. Under circumstances like that, friendship has no choice but to blossom. At the same time, isolation and worry begin to be replaced by confidence. The barriers begin to become transparent all around. Between Master and student, person and Peer, stranger and stranger. As I gained a friend in him, I looked for friendships with others. I became more comfortable with looking past coronets and medallions, and not waiting to be introduced to people I wanted to know.

A turning point happened for me in March. I was camping with a group other than the Midrealm at Gulf Wars, so after settling in on the first day, I walked over to the Midrealm camp to see if I could be of any assistance. I wasn't, but while I was standing there, I saw three guys I could introduce myself to. One of these guys was a Duke. Without a single shred of anxiety or fear, I introduced myself to him.

The rock I'd been living under? Blown to smithereens. Over the course of the week, as I was introduced to other Peers (and people in general), I wandered so far away from my comfort zone, I wouldn't have been able to find it again with a GPS and a search dog.

Now, I'm not saying that my all my fears had been obliterated. Socially awkward, introverted people will always have moments when they worry about saying the wrong thing or looking like a fool. The difference for me at this point, however, was that I was among friends, and I was realizing that I always had been.

As all these barriers were disappearing, I opened up to my Laurel in deeper, more meaningful ways. And he to me in his own way. The word "comfortable" barely covers it. Through this process of moving from pride and fear to the humility of a new friendship, I had never felt so much at home and in love with this hobby. Being able to openly connect with a person whom you admire and respect, and to be free to laugh and cry with them, look them in the eye and admit your faults, and care for them in ways you can't put into words, without judgement or pressure from anyone, is an amazing experience that very few avenues in life offer us. And there is no possible way I would ever have been able to experience that if I was still clinging to the comfort zone of pride and fear.

With a friendship established, then, and hearts full of joy, it was time for both of us to take one more step.

Tomorrow, read the amazing conclusion in Chapter Three: In Which Edyth Gains a Family.

[Disclaimer: This is my story and my perspective. I'm sharing it because you, dear reader, are my friend. It's not meant to be taken as advice. It's simply my testimonial.]

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