2016 was a really shit year. A lot of idols close to my heart passed on. Too many changes, dysfunctional family still proving to be as dysfunctional as ever. (I need to learn to no longer be surprised by this.)
But while I stand with the hatewagon for the year, I note that a lot of good things happened too, though unfortunately sandwiched by a lot of the aforementioned. That doesn't detract from what I hope it to be small steps towards a bigger goal for me this 2017.
GaymerX Australia proved to be a first step in a positive direction for me. Far be it for me to call myself a Militant SJW, diversity had always something I never compromised on. Granted, I always happily warmed the benches, far more articulate and well-versed people took the front for me, but GaymerX gave me the opportunity, and even the potentially growing backbone to stand up for parts of diversity that were important to me, that I didn't see anyone else fight for.
One of the brightest things to happen was the most positive meeting with Tim Cain, one of the creators of the original Fallout series. There are no notable anecdotes to be had from meeting him, but being able to talk so earnestly with someone who created a world where I met so many new friends in and felt free to explore myself was a great motivator for someone with as chronic an illness as I have.
I'm perpetually ridden with social insecurity, and I always assume anything I contribute amounts little to nothing in the larger picture. I had always been largely a reactive personality, unmoving unless spurred on by some external stimuli. I found myself being a lot more proactive with discourse to things I was invested in and, more importantly I learned to be more open and less defensive (and am /still/ learning, real talk) about things important to me.
So much so, I am actually in discussions for being part of an international diversity team (TBD, as a lot of things are up in the air, so excuse the vague non-statement) in association with GX.
My course in illustration taught me to be confident in my work, and in doing so has seen less debilitating art blocks in the last few months alone. One of the main factors of this was getting into Critical Role. It's honestly a saga-length episodic tour of Nerdy Voice-Actors Playing Dungeons And Dragons. It goes without saying that as a piece of media, it doesn't have its shortcomings, but that aside, it saw a a lot of fanart from me.
By proxy, one of the most important highlights of 2016, that even with as low (almost non-existent) bar that I hole for 2017 will ever mar, is getting into Dungeons and Dragons. The interest has always been there, but Critical Role anchored it, and I go into much more detail in this article I wrote for GirlsGotGame detailing my forays into tabletop RPGs. It was such a positive and successful venture into a new old-school hobby, that it is something of a regular schedule of mine, every Saturday. We even have a Youtube channel.
Which segues nicely into the fact I also solidified my role as artist and contributor for the aforementioned website. Girl's Got Game maintained by some of the most eloquent, intelligent ladies I've ever met, and only by vague luck and connections did I land such meaningful work. Writing is no easy feat for me, as growing up I'd assumed the role of "Artiste" while my brother was "The Writer". So being able to articulate well enough to be considered such was a considerable positive for me as the year progressed.
A nice bookend to my entire diversity schtick was a very frightening trip to Melbourne, a week of many firsts. I'd saved up considerably, and travelled alone for the first time. I spoke at a panel about diversity in tabletop, and met so many interesting people, ranging from a game developer of one of the most intricate, diverse world-building I've seen to the most articulate academic involved in tertiary studies about tabletop narratives.
In the end, there has been a lot of tangible, considerable and debilitating losses in 2016, ranging from the inconvenient to the life-stoppingly tragic. But none of it could ever snuff out what I've gained from actively fighting against the cycle of melancholy it threatened to drown me in. I gained a change I had been desparate for, /fighting/ for in spite all of my accumulated chagrin.
In fact, yes, fighting. That's what I'm going to be all about in 2017. It's time for a personal revolution.