The Psychology of Being New

I’m reaching my one year anniversary as a restoration druid, and yet I still can’t get behind the idea that I’m not new. I’ve tackled all the new Firelands bosses, and have even managed to get a good chunk of ‘em down on heroic, but I still feel raw. We’ve had a new healer and DPS arrive since I’ve started with Production Company, and I’ve been there almost a year as well, yet I can’t help but feeling like the new kid. Why can’t I get over being NEW?!

The Druid

I had no problems leaving behind all my “good” (i.e. leveled) characters and starting a new class for a completely new guild. Who cares that I never played a druid past 30, I’m a gamer, I got this. And despite the experience being terrifying and exhilarating, I really think it’s turned out pretty darn well. It’s particularly easy to feel awesome as a resto druid instead of say, a resto shaman, because you got the healer e-peen to salve any doubts about your awesomeness.

Or does it really? You see, I know I’m supposed to be a numbers power house. Seeing that big ol’ orange bar hovering over the rest of the healing team at the end of the night does not fill me with delight and awe at my own mastery, but rather makes me wonder “Is it me, or the class?” Sometimes being well read can cause its own crisis of ability since you just know you’re supposed to be doing all that good stuff.

And let’s not forget my constant twitter whining over the recent spate of paladin tank applications who didn’t seem to know where things like Hand of Protection and Lay on Hands were located. I played a paladin for a long time, so I inherently “get” how easy it is and critically important it is to use *all* your cool-downs, and even when they might be a good idea just based on some logs. But druids? W.T.F.? Here’s some recent “revelations” that made me realize I’m just not 100% in my druid zen:

  • I created a macro to pop a Thorns on my focus-target. Thorns has become my newest rock star.
  • When I shift into cat form, my bar has two abilities: Stampeding Roar and Dash
  • When I shift in bear form, my bar has two abilities: Stampeding Roar and Frenzied Regeneration.
  • I’ve never shifted into bear form during a raid.
  • I still haven’t found a good place to key-bind herbing haste on my balance spec, although it’s got a prime spot on my resto bars.
  • I have a notecard of my desk that says “Barkskin stupid!” I think I’ve become immune to its distracting text as my variable usage of the spell will show.
  • After we killed Ragnaros, I decided maybe I really should keybind both my dps trinkets.

I think I’m just over-reacting in some ways, but I really have to think about using all my situational abilities and cool-downs when we’re dancing our way into new encounters. Sometimes, it feels like it just takes me to darn long to get the magic lightbulb moment that some nifty ability would be downright awesome in a certain place. Some of it, I know, is just being in a new environment. Who am I kidding, how can I still be new after 8 months of killing?

The Guild

There’s something to be said for being an introvert raiding with a bunch of other introverts. Sometimes it’s really easy to draw conclusions on just not enough freakin’ data because people just don’t talk enough. Hell, we might not even all be introverts, we might just be of that old-school raiding mentality where no one speaks on Vent. Raid and guild chat can get somewhat lively, but nothing like the massive outpouring of general chat that has flooded many of  my previous guild’s airways.

And I know that I raid with a ton of opinionated people. Strat discussions can get downright sticky on some encounters as people hash out their particular brand of insanity for dealing with some mechanic. There’s some fantasy football league thingy that gets discussed from time to time, and football season is an interesting time as team and player superiority is bragged about and bashed in various quantities.

But it really struck me the other day, that I know surprisingly little about my raid-mates outside their strengths and weaknesses in a raid environment. This is not a group that casually banters about their lives outside of game: their careers, family, or non-WoW pursuits. In turn, I haven’t really shared that with my guildmates either, and I think that’s why I’m still feeling new. I’m sure that a number of my guildies stop by and read my blog from time to time. I’ve gotten /tells of encouragement and support from guildmates based on what I’ve written here, so if nothing else, my blog really allows me to connect with a number of my guildies in a way that I wouldn’t be if I didn’t have it.

However, it’s also very different from having a casual bantery conversation about the state of life, the universe and everything over the course of the evening, and I think that’s why, despite being older than a couple of new (and not even so new anymore!) members in the group, I still feel like, “gee whiz, I’m the new kid on the block!”

How do you *know* when you’re not new anymore? What kind of “signs” signal the end of the new-ness?

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9 thoughts on “The Psychology of Being New

  1. I can always tell when I’ve shaken off the “new” feeling when I feel comfortable disagreeing with leadership. It’s interesting because one of the concerns that our healing lead had when I joined PC was that I didn’t have a strong enough voice and didn’t speak up enough. And although I explained that was par for the course with me being a recent initiate, he remained concerned well into Firelands. Until one night when I channeled that infamous Vixsin-rage, (which I had been keeping under locks), and told him where he could stick his crappy resto shaman theorycraft. At that point, I knew I wasn’t the new kid any more, in my eyes or in theirs.

    And all I could say after that point was “I warned you …” ^_^

  2. I think the simple way to determine when you are not new is when you shift to answering more questions of others (in this case about the guild) rather than asking them.

  3. I’ve got a lot of responses to your post, both from the teaching/learning perspective and from the resto druid perspective. First, you’re not new. You haven’t mastered it either, but you’re not new. No matter how good a class is, it won’t outperform another class when played by a bad player. No matter how much reading you do about how good druid healing is right now, it’s still you making it good. It might push your goodness to the top of the raid, but that doesn’t mean you’re not good, it just means you can be better.

    Have you dreamed about druid healing? Has low tank health bars invaded your nightly sleep yet? Often, we dream about things when we’re finally in the absolute zone of learning. This happens very commonly with learning other languages, but I’ve had it happen with healing, too, as has my wife on her pally healer. If you haven’t, that’s not a knock against your skill, but after a year of playing I bet it has.

    Is there a reason you wouldn’t macro lifeblood into an “uh oh” cooldown? You could put it on tree of life, for instance, or … oh man it’s been a while.. uh… oh tranquility. I’m pretty sure it’s off the gcd and can be macro’d that way. I realize that macroing in abilities is neither the most efficient use nor the “right” way to use them, but an ability used is always better than one not used. I actually macro’d in lifeblood into my direct heals in LK, since so much of my healing was done with hots. I knew if I was throwing a direct heal that there was a problem and I could use some haste (I guess this was post 4.0 pre Cata release).

    As for mastery, it’s the goal of all games, but chemically speaking, mastery is the death of fun. As you’re learning to succeed, your brain is constantly giving you yummy endorphins as a reward for doing well. You’re getting adrenaline, too, from the stress of the encounter, and that will stay, but the relief you feel from getting out of a stressful situation is very different than the smiles you get when you’ve had a lot of fun. In other words, mastery is the beginning of burnout, is the beginning of WoW as a job, and, thus, is overrated. Have fun!

  4. I’ll admit it’s been a while since I was “new”. I’ve been with the same guild for 4 years now, so I’m quite firmly part of the group by now. After 4 years there’s maybe a handfull of us who have been there since I joined, and the rest are “new”. In that sense my guild seems pretty good though, because people seem to become part of the group fairly quickly – joining in on the ribbing of our GM (always good fun) and everything.

    On my Paladin alt I joined a friend’s guild, and she’s “new” I suppose. I’m still learning the finer arts of Paladin healing (and Paladins in general), so there’s a definite different feeling of “newness” there. I’m still having to get better at popping Hand of this or that.

    I’ve integrated fairly well into the guild though it feels like, despite still being fairly new. They’re a friendly bunch of people, and I guess it helps that I have a friend in there that I know from RL (though we haven’t seen each other for years). I do have a bad habit of speaking up too much though – since I’m used to being an officer.

    I think I’ll still always feel “new” on my Paladin – because it’s not a class I’ve played for several years – whereas my Warlock has been around since early TBC and every expansion since.

  5. I was prot mainspec for a long time (I’m a paladin). A week before Firelands came out, I applied to a much more advanced guild, and was accepted and asked to xfer for the raid the next day, with the understanding that I would be ret. With weak gear, no experience, and very little time to prepare, I took a deep breath, and dove in. The first night was absolutely brutal, as I was introduced to Heroic Twilight Council and Cho’gall for the first time.

    About 2 months down the road, I was asked at a moment’s notice to go prot and tank H. Rhyolith. I swapped specs, and did a solid job, but it was like I was playing with someone else’s hands. Unlike before, when tanking was nearly effortless, everything seemed off and uncomfortable, and it was a relief when I was able to go back to ret for the next fight. That’s when I realized I had made the swap.

  6. Easy! Its when you start telling a story about an ex-guild member or old argument and half the guild go “oh yeah, Cubby and Alucard really didn’t get along, I remember…” but the other half of the guild are dead silent because, well, they weren’t in the guild then.

    I told Ulduar stories in TOC, perhaps 6 months in my guild, and got that kind of response. Mind you, these days smaller guilds seem to be the norm so perhaps there is less turn over.

  7. In all honesty, it’s not so much that your new, it’s that your still learning. A trap many players fall into. As in, they have settle into their class/guild and become stale and un-open to new idea/improvements. Your on the right track!

    When we do reach a ‘realisation’ about how much more we can take on-board, to up our game, it is easy to get carried away. I’ve found the ‘best’ way, for me, is to gradually introduce new strategies and skills/spells, what have you, into your rotation as such, and master them. Then bring in another and another, one by one. That way you don’t become overwhelmed with things to take on, and you will learn how to perfect it.

    Beginners mind is key, we never stop learning.

    Interesting post,

    - Jamin

  8. Yay for your 1 year anniversary! And I feel you on the ‘new’ thing. I’ve been playing my druid since midway though BC and I still feel ‘new’. i’ve healed part of BC, all of Wrath content, and now I’m working my way though Cata but I STILL feel ‘new’.

    I don’t feel new in my guild, since I helped to found it. But I love it when I see the moment the ‘new’ person finally becomes a solid part of the established crew. It’s like a lightbulb came on.

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