Asking For Help Is Not a Sign of Weakness

I was always taught that I should be able to take care of myself, that I need to be able to look out for number one because no one else would. In truth, that is not an unfair or unrealistic statement, but I realized that in my years of adulthood, I have a very difficult time asking for assistance when it comes to matters of life and the heart. This mentality somewhat ties into my Paladins write-up about not wanting to be a burden to another person or admitting that you cannot always be the strong one that others look up to.

There is a large portion of my life that is dedicated to connecting with people whether that be through professional or personal connections. I enjoy networking and I find it rewarding when I cross paths with someone who has similar interests as myself. One of the best things about meeting and e-meeting people is that you establish connections all over the world. Even better, you find that many of these people are genuinely good people.

Fun fact: I don’t like bothering people.

Time and time again, I have conversations that goes like this:

Me: Yeah, that part of my life was incredibly rough. I don’t know how I survived that.

Friend: Why didn’t you ask for help???

Me: I didn’t want to bug people with my issues.

Friend: DUDE. Ask for help! Friend help out friends. That’s what we do!

Similar conversations have happened in the past, and I can’t count how many times they’ve occurred. I would say that my reluctance to ask for help is comprised of many feelings and emotions including stubbornness, pride, and fear. The last one is a big one. I   have two fears when it comes to asking people for help. One, I’m scared of being rejected and two, I’m scared that some form of payment is expected at a later time even though this help is being offered to me under the guise of friendship/ the goodness of someone’s heart. There have been many times in my life when accepting help from someone has backfired on me later down the road. It’s essentially “well, I did this for during that time you needed me. Now you owe me.” That is a very scary statement if you think about it.

I’ve learned to shed the poisons out of my life, but a small level of paranoia stays in the back of my mind. In present day, I find myself in a pivotal moment in my life. I know what I want to do, and I know what I need to do, but I have to come to terms with the fact that I cannot do it alone. As much as I want to be the epitome of unwavering strength, I have to think about my life in realistic terms. I have to understand that yes, I am strong, but I don’t have to carry the weight of life and the world on my own every waking moment.

I asked for help. And I’m getting it. And while I’m still scared, I don’t feel nearly as alone as I did. I am reminded that I am loved, and that I have good people in my life. These people understand me, and understand the difficulties and the hardships I am experiencing. I had a good talk with a friend and she told me she believed in me. I was nearly brought to tears because I had felt so much weight lifted off of me. I could literally breathe easier. And she’s not the only one who is willing to stop moments of her life for me. That hit me so hard, and realizing that these people care that much about me made me feel like I can take anything on. How is that weak? It isn’t. It was empowering. Knowing when you need that little extra bit of help, and lowering your guard in order to initiate the request is not a sign of weakness. In fact, it’s a sign of strength. It’s, I suppose, a form of baring yourself and allowing vulnerability for a moment or two.

I am in a very odd cross section in my life, and I don’t know if what I wrote made any sense. I’ve been thrown a lot of obstacles in the past year, and I am finding out more and more about myself and how I want to live my life. Hurdles, epiphanies, heartache, disappointment, and doubt have filled my mind in recent days, but I buckled down and told myself I can push through all of it. I just need a little help.

And I’m getting it.

And I am grateful for it. Forever and always.

Paladins. I Don’t Necessarily Mean the D&D Ones.

I’ve had quite a few of these conversations lately, and that has lead to me writing about this topic. Everyone has a rock, someone they lean on for strength, support, and encouragement. We all have one or two, and in truth, it’s healthy to be able to vent to someone who is wiling to listen to you and not pass any judgement.

What isn’t healthy is if that is the only types of interactions we have with these specific people. There should be a healthy balance in any type of relationship, but once it becomes incredibly one-sided, it starts becoming toxic. People who are rocks are essentially paladins. They are altruistic, empathetic, and selfless to the point where they won’t openly admit when they themselves are crumbling because they don’t want to show the people who rely on them that they can no longer be supportive. I cannot tell you how many times I’ve heard “it’s nice being able to talk to someone because I’m usually the one people come to.”

Imagine being the journal, the ear, the foundation to multiple people who are struggling for various reasons. Now imagine instinctively carrying that weight in your mind and heart even though the conversation ended with “thanks for listening.” Paladins don’t shake those conversations, those worries or those burdens off.  Paladins accept these as their own because they feel it’s their way of contributing to life, to the world, and to their loved ones. It becomes part of them; that’s part of being empathetic.

And as much as paladins don’t want to admit it, even they struggle as well. They have their own share of misfortune at times just like everyone else, but they don’t like to tell others about it because they understand what that weight can do to someone. It’s a vicious one-way street for them more than it is a cycle.  They want to remain and appear strong for those who rely on them, and they will only break down behind closed doors.

Why am I writing this? I want people to have an understanding of the paladins in their lives. This isn’t to make them feel guilty about venting to their pillars of support, far from, but this is more to help them understand that those pillars are people too. Allow them to recharge. Understand that they also need time away from the crazy of the world. No matter how much they hold things together, sometimes, they need to step back and take a breather. One of their flaws is that they won’t ask for this break because they believe that they have to be helpful 24/7. I write this for those who  may find themselves all of a sudden wondering why their rock may disappear for a while. I write this for those who may even be angered when one of their friends goes dark for a bit. I write this for those who may only come to their paladins when they need them. I write this for those who may be paladins themselves. There is no one reason I’m writing down these thoughts, but the overall intention is understanding.

It is possible that some people will read this and spin negativity out of it. They may assume that I am writing this to make people who have troubles feel guilty about talking to their friends about their issues and problems. I am not. And that is an entirely different topic of discussion. I am writing this post to shed some light on a perspective that isn’t always thought about. I will throw in, however, that if you are only coming to shed troubles and leave, I won’t back down from saying that treating paladins like that isn’t healthy and it is unfair. People may assume that I speak for everyone on both sides, but I do not. As with all of my posts, I speak for myself and my own experiences. People can feel however they want with my posts, but it is no secret that my intention is to help, not damage.

Bottom line is whatever situation you may be involved in currently, if you have a paladin in your life to help you along, I’m glad for that. As I wrote earlier, it’s healthy to be able to share your troubles with trusted friends. I think you can agree that we need more people like them in the world. I am only asking that you remember that while paladins seem unbreakable, they are human.

Watching Your Community Grow is Like Witnessing a Seed Bloom Into a Garden of Awesome

I will be the first to admit that I am not always the most patient person. But I will also acknowledge that this is solely dependent on what I am waiting for. If I was waiting for someone in a store to check out and they had 50 coupons and was paying via personal check, I would just stand back and wait. However, if I were playing a video game like The Last of Us, I lose all forms of patience while waiting for a Clicker to walk by my hiding spot.

But here I am on July 26, 2016, looking over numbers and stats, comments and responses on various social media platforms that I manage on my own. I have moments where I think to myself “holy crap… I interact with people A LOT.” I remember back when I was a kid, I was very shy. I didn’t play with other kids; I just kept to myself in my own corner. My dad said he would feel bad whenever he would pick me up from school because I was always alone. I was considered a strange bird by many. I remember learning about shapes. The teacher asked us to makes squares, and I made circles. I got made fun of for it. A lot of that awkward carried over into my teenage and young adult years. I always felt out of place wherever I was. I could get along with people just fine, but I never felt like most people really understood me. There were a few, but they either moved away, physically or emotionally.

In the last couple years, I really started focusing on me. I didn’t have a solid plan, but I found the beginnings of a path that was interesting to me, and I blindly went down it. My love for video games never waned, so I learned more about the industry, the people, the products, and I found that I loved video games even more. A former co-worked connected me to Randy Greenback and he was my first look into the welcoming culture of game development. He may not know it, but the few conversations we had changed my life for the better. By the way, he’s currently working on the new Friday the 13th game. You should totally check it out.

With Randy’s helpful and wise words backing me, I delved into the world of networking. I was more active on Twitter, I eventually created the blog that is currently housing the very post you are reading, and I focused on the elements of community and bringing people together. I’ve met and e-met so many different people, good and bad, it’s quite mind blowing to me. I’ve had amazing experiences and not so great ones, but I couldn’t find a better fit for my personality.

Fast forward to now. I have a small following on the internet and it’s a fascinating mix of acquaintances, friends, family, and completely strangers. While the numbers aren’t huge compared to the bigger names on these platforms, I find solace in knowing that this is MY community. I don’t have one focus either. I update Twitter primarily, but I am active on YouTube, Twitch, Facebook, this blog, Vine, and a few others. I try to create an environment where there is something for everyone. That’s why I made the GeekyFriedRice Guild. Doesn’t matter if you love just anime or video games or cosplay or movies or if you love it all… you have a place here. Nerdy? Geeky? Great. You’ll fit right in! I enjoy conversing with people of different backgrounds because it helps shape and grow my own perspective of the world.

I didn’t think I would be here. I didn’t think I would be attending or volunteering for conventions and building relationships and friendships. I didn’t think that people would actually care about me or the things I love doing. I didn’t think people would come up to me and say “you don’t know me but I wanted to say hi and thank you for what you’re doing.” I didn’t think I would ever be that type of influence for people, but it’s happening, and I recognize that, and it makes me want to do better. And this isn’t all on me either. You guys help me a great deal as well. This is a two-way street here. I hope you all know how much I appreciate you.

I just recently identified my community as the GeekyFriedRice Guild. I’m not sure exactly what the future holds for it, but it warms my heart that you are here. For real. I’m being super cereal. Thank you for being my community. Less than three you!

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Livestreaming Bloodborne to help a friend beat cancer

I was going to do a write-up on Bloodborne as I completed the game a couple weeks ago, but since then, I received some distressing news from a very dear friend. Shelly and I have been friends since about 8th grade, and while we drifted apart after graduation, we reconnected about five years ago. I was ecstatic to find that we had similar interests in video games, cosplay and shared a common love of the geeky culture. I was also very saddened to learn that she had many medical ailments including Crohn’s disease, iron deficiency and a very weak immune system. When we would plan some outings, there would be times when she couldn’t make it simply because she was too weak to leave her home. Even through all that, she still managed to help me with a couple video collaborative projects and she made time for me when she could.

She has never complained about her condition. She never blamed anyone else for them and has never projected any negative feelings in general regarding them. With her, it was always about living life to the fullest and never taking anything for granted. She has always placed others before her, and I believe, is the very definition of altruism. Very recently, she found out that she had colon cancer. You know what she did? She shed a ton of tears, she informed family and friends, and then she went out and voted because what happens in her country matters to her. She and her husband are currently traveling to Ohio to seek treatment in the medical facilities there and as of today, they are waiting for results from numerous biopsies to determine if more surgeries are needed or if they will go straight to chemo.

I want to help her. Every year, I participate in video game related charity livestreams to raise donations for sick children and their families. This time, I will be livestreaming for someone close to my heart and I will be featuring her gofundme page on my channel. I don’t have a lot of money, but what I can do is entertain people and bring awareness to what is going on in her life.

Why Bloodborne? As I said, I completed the game not too long ago, and I told myself that I wouldn’t play it again because it was set at a level of difficulty that was pretty devastating to my psyche. I know how that sounds. But when you play something over and over and over again and you fail at it over and over and over again, it begins to affect you. I don’t know how I managed to beat it, but I did and that was quite an accomplishment for me. I was quite proud of that, but I said that I would shelve Bloodborne for the foreseeable future. And then I read about Shelly’s update. As weird as this sounds, Bloodborne seems like the perfect game to play for something like this. No matter how angry and upset I will be at the game, those feelings pale in comparison to what Shelly is experiencing. To me, that is fantastic motivation to livestream as long as I can. If she’s going to battle cancer, then I can take on a video game to help her in her fight.

Thank you to everyone who has shared Shelly’s page and/or donated. Seeing people come together to help her has warmed my heart. There aren’t enough words to express how grateful I am, how thankful she is. I text her a few times over the last couple days, and she cried several times because she is in disbelief that so many people who don’t know her are willing to help and support her. You guys are wonderful. I hope to see you this weekend.

Kicking cancer’s ass livestream starts March 5, 2016 at 9am PST

Twitch.tv/geekyfriedrice

You can donate here: gofundme.com/shellylarson

If you would like video representation of the stories above:

 

Blood related or not, a mother’s love is a mother’s love

When I was much younger, I always thought your mother was someone who strictly gave birth to you, and that’s it. I believed that no one else who could be your mother; the idea of a mother figure was nonexistent. I am blessed to have my birth mother in my life, and she’s still here to this day. We don’t always see eye to eye on certain things, and we do argue, but she’s always done what she felt was best for me and my little brother. She put us first before her own needs and she fought for us when she felt we were wronged. My mother has always done her best to provide for us and even when life threw us curveballs, she adapted and didn’t let anyone push her or us around. She’s quite a strong woman. Tiny, but strong. And she’s the best.

As I wrote, I am lucky to still have my mother in my life. As a kid, I never imagined my life without her. I never once considered what it would be like to look up to another woman as a mother. That concept just didn’t exist for me. It wasn’t until I played FFVI, that I realized a familial bond could exist between a child and a woman who is not his/her biological mother. I love FFVI for many reasons, mostly because all the characters were captivating, the villain actually succeeded in destroying the world, and the female characters were pretty badass. Terra Branford remains one of my favorite video game characters of all time. Terra is the first playable character in FFVI, and her story begins with her feeling lost, used and fearful of the world around her. Her memory was wiped, and she had to learn to trust people again. She began as a shell of a person but blossomed beautiful by the end of the game. Throughout the story, she begins to find herself, finds her purpose in life. It isn’t until she becomes a guardian for several orphaned children that she comes to terms with who she is and what she wants to fight for.

It was one of the most touching scenes I experienced in a video game. And it made me realize that there are many women out there who look after the people in their lives whether blood related or not. Who knew that I could learn such an important lesson from a video game? So to all the women out there who are actual mothers, mother figures, or play a similar mother hen role, I wish you a happy mother’s day. May you feel that you are always cherished, treasured, and loved by those you look after every day of your life. Thank you for your love, for your strength, for your wisdom and your patience.

Never forget that you make the world a better place.

Happy mother’s day!

Did I ever tell you about my first family dog?

While I am waiting for my flight to PAX South, I can take some time to tell you about my first dog, BJ. He was our first family dog and my parents got him while I was very young (I was maybe one or two years old). BJ, at the time, didn’t have a name. My parents told me one day we were out for a walk, and I was being pushed in a stroller. A stray dog came at me, and BJ chased him off. So my dad named him Baldijac. Baldi means protector and Jac was just my name shortened. Hence, BJ.

I don’t have many memories of him as he was an outside dog. But fast forward almost thirty years, and all of our dogs are rescues and adopted. Progress. One of these days, I will adopt another Beagle and I will make sure he/she will never live outside. I’m thinking of naming him/her, Bagel. Hee hee.

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Play Video Games, Save Lives, & Make a Birthday Wish Come True

It is no secret that I am participating in Extra Life for the third time this year. For those who have followed me since the beginning, thank you so much for your continued support. I certainly didn’t think I would ever be in a position where I could do this for three years straight, but I am, and I am incredibly humbled by my friends and family who have come along for the ride. This year, I decided to lead a small team in an effort to raise $2,000 and here is where we stand as of today.

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We have reached 88% of our goal and I am at a loss for words. A very recent donation from my father’s friend gave us a huge jump, so a very big thank you to Jim for his more than generous donation. One of the reasons why I love this program is that while it focuses on gamers doing what they do best, you don’t have to be a gamer yourself to show support. Every year I have done Extra Life, new names pop up on my donation list along familiar ones and I am taken by surprise each time. There are tons of causes to donate to and I am ecstatic that people have chosen to support mine.

Extra Life is very simple. Play games for 24 hours and all donations go to a Children’s Miracle Network Hospital. That’s it. I am just about $50 from breaking my record from last year. My personal goal to raise is $1,500, and I am very confident I can reach that. I will be starting my 24 hour marathon on November 8th, and I hope to have my set up complete in order to livestream at least some of the event.

Throughout the day, I will be tweeting pics, inviting friends to join in on the fun and asking you all what you would like me to play next. Extra Life is a very special program to me since the official date of launch happens in the last week of October. I’m an October baby, so I treat this is a unique birthday party. I encourage friends and family to donate to my page rather than giving me presents, and if I reach my goal of $1,500, it truly will be a birthday wish come true.

We also have some cool things in store for those who donate as well. If you donate $15 or more, you will be entered into a raffle to win prizes! Donating to ANY of my teammates’ pages will qualify you. Just to give you a little taste of what we are giving away…

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Some of my teammates will also be giving out other awesome stuff, so please check out their pages for details. Many of them will be gaming this weekend as well. Winners shall be drawn November 9th at the end of the day.

I cannot wait to spend the weekend with you all, and again, I am beyond grateful that you have decided to support a program that truly is dear to my heart. And I am beyond grateful that you are joining me for my birthday celebration.

FOR THE KIDS!

My Extra Life Page

My Team: Ninja Nerds