The Anxious Gamer: Friendships, Gaming Groups and Being Left Out

[CW: anxiety, rejection]

This is a pretty fraught subject for me. I hate being left out or pushed to the edges of something, and it stems from a deep and abiding fear that if I’m not defined by other people, I’m not defined at all. Like, if they ignore me, I’ll just vanish. It’s a deep-ingrained anxiety, and it’s hard to shake. For me, there are a number of ways this can be exacerbated by gaming, but the commonest and most awkward one is when I feel that people have deliberately excluded me from a game that I’m enthusiastic about, or my partner is included in. I have a very strong reaction to that, and I even have a milder reaction to not being invited to games I’m not actually that interested in. It’s led to me pushing myself into groups in ways that make looking back at the experience uncomfortable. Ironically, that very act of pushing my way in has left me feeling like an outsider in a group that I really and truly want to feel comfortable with – some treacherous part of my brain is always saying that they only included me after I bullied my way in and that they would much rather I left. Rationally, I know that group would be honest with me if that were the case, but I know I behaved somewhat badly in pressuring them to include me, so it just adds weight to my fear of being rejected by them. I also know that they didn’t intend to exclude me or hurt me, but that doesn’t stop the emotional reaction. Continue reading