Balancing Act: Prospective Priorities
By Margaret Hill
So many of us have multiple monkeys we must feed. We deal with work, home, relationships, family, friends and of course LARP. Each monkey wants our time and focus, some may just be a little mischievous spider monkey, some may be the oppressively loud howler monkey and still others demand so much they might as well be King Kong. How do you cater to so many that demand time and attention? It can be daunting to set limits and just say "no. But without limits, you will lose who you are to the monkeys who made demands. Let's take a deeper look at these monkeys to help create healthy limits.
Let us start with work and home. I put these monkeys in the same cage as they form the foundation for allowing the other monkeys to exist. Our work allows us to have money to eat and clothe ourselves and our home give us a place to rest our heads and sleep. There are only a few things that can help here, but sometimes little changes can have a huge impact. First set time aside to focus on these items. it is OK to tell other obligations that you have to meet that work deadline or that you need to stay home and get laundry or some kitchen cleaning done. You have to take care of your life first.
Relationships, family, and friends are the next grouping of monkeys. They can be lumped together even if you don't place them in the same cage. As humans, we are social animals. We need interaction and genuine human contact in order to develop and maintain a healthy emotional state. Now some situations might remove people from this category, and that is OK, you do not need to fill that spot with a "like item" but it is during those times when you should reach out to the others in this grouping. A dear sibling moved across the country? Try connecting with your significant other, or reaching out to your bestie. Ensuring these monkeys are cared for will only help further down the line. Having this allows you the time and space to be yourself and have your own identity.
I have saved LARP for last for a multitude of reasons. I have seen this game tear apart friendships, cost people jobs, loved ones and drive them to the brink of hopelessness. In that same vein, I have seen a character give inspiration, teach confidence and help through troubling times. No game should cause a crippling negative response. Yes, we empathize with our characters and use them to grow and learn and experience in ways that the constraints of reality and society do not allow us. Through character portrail, we can learn real-life social skills. Dealing with the officers of the Camarilla Court, or your new Bishop or Baron can teach you how to deal with that difficult person at work or even allow you that break from the pressures of reality. But ultimately this monkey is a tool to be used, and not to be used by. Taking time away to focus on other aspects is 100% totally acceptable if a scene is too much or becomes too difficult for you, speak up. We are all here to have fun and enjoy ourselves, we are not here to be pressured and battered in placing a game over the things we need to survive in the world we live in.
If you find yourself in need of help to find this balance there are many resources out there to be had. Remember you own the monkeys and not the other way around, you can choose how much time and investment to give them. You can control King Kong and turn him back into the cute grinder monkey clapping his cymbals, that power is in your hands. Please do not let fear or intimidation keep you silent. Many companies offer a free life advise hotline, most are confidential, that can offer a good place to start. Local Churches and community centers often have seminars or meetings for support groups. A quick google search will show many options for help. Lastly, do not hesitate to reach out to the local staffs or even other players, you don't know if one of them has some insight or advice to offer unless you ask.