I’m going to talk today about my hat. And stick with me folks, I’m going somewhere with this.
People have asked me why I wear the same black hat all the time. My fedora has a story. And I’m going to share it today. Stick with me, promise. It has a point.
For anyone who reads my work on here or is familiar with me in general? You know I’m an avid role-player. I’ve been gaming since I was in high school. I role-played Marvel Super Heroes online for ten years with the same community before I played D&D in college and then switched primarily to LARPing in White Wolf games in the NYU area. After that I picked up games like Dresden Files RPG and other FATE stuff as well as branching out into other RPG’s and haven’t looked back. I think I can conservatively say that one time in high school I was playing over forty characters. Sure, they were pretty crappy (I was a high school girl who learned everything from TV, books and comics – I was way way embarrassing) but they were creations of the inside of my head.
Some of them survived until today. Some have survived because they express great character ideas that I want to develop into things elsewhere perhaps (in writing for example). Some just survive in different incarnations because I enjoy playing them in different games. They give me a place to explore parts of my personality, to have a different persona to explore new environments and to stretch out parts of myself that I don’t get to touch very often. What I realized over the years is that those characters I’ve been playing have given me a voice into aspects of myself that I sometimes need to dig deep to find.
I’ll give you an example. There’s an old character of mine that I’ve reincarnated a bunch of times. And I swear this is going to become a ‘Let Me Tell You About My Character’ post – I ain’t that girl. But this character is every impulse-control problem, rough as hell, follow your heart and maybe not your head part of me. But what she also is is fearless. And when the anxiety creeps up on me and I’m having trouble finding my way out? I reach in and ask myself one question: WWTD (What Would Taj Do?). And then I filter out the murderous parts and find the fearless answer.
And y’know what? I get a big ol’ toothy grin and get to work.
In tough times it’s been a great boon to be able to reach into myself and say “I played a kickass female with no fear at all in the face of adversity” when faced with the fear of the every day life. As a technique, therapists are known to use roleplaying to allow a person a safe space to explore parts of themselves. I just had the mechanism to do that as a gift in my hobby and when I need it, I can unpack the tools I’ve learned from roleplaying to help me through the most difficult places.
And that’s where my hat comes in. I bought my hat as part of my costume for a character in the Dystopia Rising universe. My character was a rich little girl who ran away to start her life when I was just starting over with a new group of friends in the DR community. Her hat was bought when she just started feeling more… sure of herself in life. I wore it for one game and felt like a rock star in character that game. I came home then after the weekend to my weekly grind of retail work and it’s stress. I faced down going to work in the post-high of a great LARP weekend to face the regular world and it’s worries and I felt uninspired. How can you live in the skin of someone in the post-apocalypse for a weekend and then not find the daily grind a little duller, a little more grey?
On impulse, on my way out the door, I put on my hat that I wore as Elizabeth in game and wore it to work. And throughout the day, I found myself squaring my shoulders and realizing ‘if I could face down the physical challenges of the fake zombie apocalypse, then I could face this difficulty or anything else’. I found myself reminded of how lucky I was about my regular life with it’s conveniences and lack of murderous zombies. But more than that, I remembered that I have the power in me to channel the power I found in Elizabeth into my everyday.
That was two years back. I never stopped wearing the hat, even after the character permanently died in October of 2011. I’ve replaced the hat three times for destroying it repeatedly – and woe is me when the Hard Rock Cafe discontinues the damn thing. But I’ve found the power on days – like today – when I face fears of a great future that my hat has become almost a talisman for the ways in which I never imagined I could be stronger than I am.
Why am I sharing this? Just to say this really:
In your darkest places, may you find a talisman to show you the way to the strongest parts of yourself. No matter what it is.