It’s a rare thing to find a place where you can really feel comfortable, to feel at home, where you can be yourself and like you really belong. Especially when you are nearly 40 years old, a woman, you have severe ADHD, are extremely socially awkward, always say the wrong thing, and are on the autism spectrum. Oh, and you have interests that most people your age look at and think you are crazy. I have spent my entire life looking for that place, only to find out, nope, that wasn’t it after all.
Being an adult on the spectrum is hard enough. Try being an adult on the spectrum who is a gamer playing an MMORPG. Talk about awkward!!! I play Final Fantasy XIV online. It’s the first and only MMORPG I have ever played. My kids sucked me into it. They play. But they are at the end of the game and doing what is referred to as end-game content. I am nowhere near there yet. Sooner or later I will catch up. But in the meantime, I feel like I will hold them back if they have to run the stuff I am on with me, and I hate asking them to. Plus, our schedules just never line up. One is still in high school and working part-time and in marching band. In short, she literally never has much time to play. The other is working 30 hours a week and starting college. He’s also in a long-distance relationship. And by long-distance, I mean international. While he always makes time for mom, time is a hot commodity for him. My ex-sister-in-law tries to help me out when she can, but when she is playing, everyone is pulling for her attention.
So as you can see, sometimes that leaves me… on my own. So often, I have to play with random people, and that is not always a comfortable place to be for someone like me with awful social anxiety. I did find that those random people, most of the time anyway, are generally pretty nice about things, even when I screw things up royally and they die. Several times. And it’s my fault. Because I didn’t know what the hell I was doing. But that’s not generally the point here. The point of an MMORPG is the multiplayer part, right? Making and playing with friends… and that’s the part I was missing.
So one day there I was, lurking as always on the FFXIV Reddit. And someone made mention of an all girls’ Discord server for the game. Lightbulb moment. I had tried literally a dozen Discord servers related to this game. I didn’t fit in any of them. They all felt cliquey and I felt like an outsider. But this one sounded different. Could this be the one? i asked if I could get an invite.
From the moment I clicked the link, something was just… different. I was immediately hit with a bunch of “welcome to the server” messages. Within a day, I was asked into a voice chat to get my “verified” role so I could have access to the more sensitive channels. People offered to help me with content in-game. I was invited along on a housing tour even though I didn’t have a place of my own to show off. And we were in voice chat for that housing tour and no one complained that I talked too much or said awkward or uncomfortable things.
Had I found my people? In those more sensitive channels, I found a channel titled “neurodivergent” This is one of the more “politically correct” terms that some people prefer to use for people with things like autism and ADHD. I found out that there were a BUNCH of us on the server on the autism spectrum! There is even another mom with a daughter around the same age as mine, and her daughter even has autism as well! And we are setting them up to play a game together and to hang out through a chat program! So my daughter got a new friend as a result of all of this too!
I finally found a place where I feel like I belong and am actually a part of, instead of someone on the outside looking in and just… there. I am often involved in events that are going on. You can often find me just chilling in voice chat, somewhere in the chat for the Crystal DC, or possibly even the one behind the scenes now for the Twitch stream monitoring chat, depending on who the streamer is and what time of day it is. Because now, I am also part of the Events Team and the Social Media team. And I am having a blast with it. I am super busy all of the time. But it is the most fun I have had in a very long time. I feel like I have a purpose. It makes me feel like I am included and I really do belong there. Like they really do like me and want me there, and not that they just put up with me like what has happened in so many other places. My quirks make me who I am, and those things aren’t a problem here. To these ladies, I am just me, and they generally love and accept me. And for someone who is a relative newcomer to be so accepted and welcomed and loved already, who has literally never had that almost anywhere else in almost 40 years (except once and I miss those ladies dearly – this reminds me so much of them), to know that any woman will be accepted regardless of orientation if they identify as female and that this really is a safe space to just be who I really am without judgment means the world to me.
And it can be that for all of you out there too. I promise if you come and join us, it is not a decision that you are going to regret. It has been a fulfilling experience and my gameplay has been enhanced. I find myself looking forward to getting up at 6 a.m. now, and not wanting to go to bed at night, because I love spending time with these ladies. I no longer curse my asshole internal clock for waking me so early in the morning!
There are tons of ways to find us, too. If you want to go directly to discord, you can do that here!
We also have a very active Twitch Stream. Right now, one of our members plays as a Viera and has said that if we reach 2000 followers on Twitch before Endwalker releases, she will, on stream, change her character to a lalafell and allow the viewers to help create the character. And she will keep the lala until the completion of the Endwalker MSQ.
As an added bonus to that, one of our other streamers has also said that if our channel and hers hit 100 subscribers, she will change her character to her twin brother!
We have a budding Instagram.
We are on Twitter.
We have a subreddit. (please keep in mind this is a work in progress)
And of course, Youtube as well,
Any of those social media sources are active at least once a day, with Discord and Twitch being the most active, but the others are soon to follow! If you decide to check it out, you can always tell them Aranaya Redgrave sent you. You really won’t regret it. And if you play Final Fantasy XIV on the Crystal Data Center, and you want to hit me up in-game, just go to player search and look for Aranaya Redgrave and send me a friend request! I am always up for new friends and helping people out in-game in any way I can!