Samantha: I'm on Teamspeak. Can you imagine that? I was invited a short while ago to join up on TS with a friend or two who DJ on Guild Wars 2. I was, as you might imagine, incredibly nervous about doing so, because Teamspeak uses voice. Seriously.. me? Talk online? Hell no!
So.. I didn't use the microphone, but listened to people talk, and tapped away on the keyboard to talk to people. The thing is - when you're on Teamspeak, you can multitask if you have voice.. so people were kind of doing other things, which made me talking to them a slow and difficult process.
So, after a week or two of this, I got annoyed and tried to find a program to alter my voice.. something I could use so I could sound outwardly the way I hear myself inwardly. Nothing. Everything I looked at either cost more money than we have.. or just didn't work.. or sounded bad.. or crashed when we tried to use it. Needless to say.. I was kinda demoralized.
So.. finally, I talked with Cat. My few friends offline can usually pick me out from anyone else when I'm up and talking, so I asked her how I sounded. I know my voice is higher than Kit's, or Mark's (Mark's is lower than Kit's, we've noticed).. but do I sound.. well, not to put too fine of a point on it.. female.
Cat said I sounded fine. She noted her mom gets mistaken for male on the phone at times (which of course pisses her mom off).. so I should be okay. This.. well.. I was nervous as hell, but it was enough that I decided I'd just be myself and talk.
I was fucking terrified.
But, see, I had to do this. I want to have friends, I want people I can talk to. This was really important to me, because these were people I was hanging out with online, who were opening a door that I had always felt was closed, and were saying hey, we like you, come join us.
I don't get that kind of invitation. Not really.
So, I turned on the microphone on the laptop, and walked in, and gave it a shot. And.. it was okay. The people who knew me didn't bat an eye.. and we talked a bit. I didn't talk much, since the general topics of conversation were things I didn't know about - they play MMOs and games I don't, for example, but it was nice. It felt like walking into a dance hall, and seeing people you know, and having them wave to you while you stick to the sidelines and wave back. You're there, and that's a good start.
Someone asked The Question.. 'are you a girl?'. So.. I took my second gamble. One of my friends went 'oh boy', and I knew I didn't have to answer if I didn't want to. But.. I knew some of these people, and this was the acid test. Could I be accepted for who I was? So.. I answered. I explained who I was.. and what I had to deal with. And.. it was accepted. No questions asked.
It felt good. I was able to be me here. I could talk. I could joke. I could drop my smart-assed remarks and people would laugh, and it was nice!
(Fuck you, I'm allowed to say nice. Kit's the one who's banned from that word.)
I don't go on often, but.. I'm making it more of a habit these days. Go in, hang out a bit, talk, and slip out again. It is .. pleasant.. being able to show up, and hear people be happy you're around.
And tonight, I was given a compliment. Someone .. well.. I won't go into detail, but they said something that made me feel really good. They know about me, they've heard me, and even with that disadvantage, I was given a wonderful compliment.
I'm happy.. and sad.. at the same time. I'm happy that I have these friends, and I'm sad about the limitations I still have, preventing me from being free.. but .. it's still good. I'm still smiling, even through the tears.
Mark: I've been watching Samantha go through this, and I'm happy for her. This has taken a lot of courage, considering her personal fears and physical limitations, and having a group that supports her I think is something she needs. Hopefully, this will let her come out of her shell more. Our condition is harder on her than anyone else in our group, so giving her the opportunity to make friends and interact with others is important. I was admittedly wary of her coming out like this. I'm glad to see my concerns were not necessary.