Do Vicarious Experiences Count?
Vicarious is a word you really don’t hear too often so I’ll go over it real quick, the context I’m using it in is this: Felt or enjoyed through imagined participation in the experience of others. Basically, feeling like you’re experiencing something someone else has gone through by observing/listening to them without actually going through it yourself. Now, as I’ve said before, I write for characters, mostly female, and I roleplay as them as well. Now, I don’t know if I’ve mentioned this one, but I play on a roleplaying server on World of Warcraft. Now, because I’m not entirely pathetic, I started off not wanting my character in any sort of relationship. Then the exact same pressure from the real world started to creep into the game. Everyone around me is in a relationship. So, I put a tag in my MyRolePlay (A very popular addon for RPers on WoW) profile saying “Hey, if you want a relationship with this character, I’m open to the idea, but I would prefer a girl playing as guy.” to try and keep things from getting weird. I’ve actually done that before, having a girl character played by me in a relationship with a guy played by another guy. It was awkward as hell. Remember, despite how ridiculously weird I am with this, I am straight.
So, eventually, my character did end up in a relationship, and the guy was played by a girl. Outstanding. And no, this isn’t a very sad ploy to try and get an online girlfriend, in fact most of the women I’ve run into playing this game (Including the player of the guy my character was in a relationship with) are married. Some even have kids. Anyway, this character that she’s playing is a low-level alt, doesn’t get to sign on him very often. I make it a point not to pester her to sign on that character because one, that’s incredibly selfish, and two, doing such a thing causes severe problems. The guild I’m in on that character is just dead a door nail because the guild leader kept insisting that the person who played her character’s husband (A friend of mine, no less) sign on to that character more, and it caused a serious rift between them that crippled the guild. It sucks. So, our characters don’t see each other often. I actually came up with a workaround for her not being able to sign on the character often, too, just so it didn’t seem like the relationship was in trouble because of the lack of contact. They got along well enough, I thought. My character is rather displaced in society (imagine that) and the pressure of that was starting to weigh down on her, while he looked past that and was a great comfort to her as a result. Now, much like me, my character has never been in a relationship and as a result has no real idea how to act.
All of this culminated into realizing I had started to feel real emotions towards what happened a few days ago: Her character broke up with mine. And, despite having never been in a relationship, I felt like I had gone through an actual breakup, and was reacting just like I had gone through one. Accepting the initial breakup, seeking more answers after thought, investigating things on my own, and looking for support from friend. So! Let’s go through the process, shall we? He calls off their relationship because he said he’s going back into the military and doesn’t want to make her wait for him. She gets heartbroken over it, but decides to leave it at that. Then she talks to someone who encourages her to seek more answers. The main concern being brought up is that he felt like if he died in the line of duty, it would hurt her worse than breaking up with her. So, she finds him and asks, and he says that’s the case. Now, my character’s mission is to make people happy, so she had to ask the question that had been scratching at the back of her mind: Was he unhappy with her? The response was no, he wasn’t unhappy, but he didn’t feel “challenged” by her. See, he’s been in a rut for years over the death of his brother, and she never once challenged him to rise above it, she just went with things as they were.
Translation through my mind, and by extension her mind: You’re boring.
So now the heartache was even worse. She starts self-harming, albeit not in the typical fashion, she just takes on extremely dangerous training exercises for no good reason, just to give physical pain to take away from the emotional pain. She runs in to two more friends, one of whom had noticed him hanging around another woman. So, putting two and two together (Plus I follow a tumblr blog that she made for her characters that basically confirmed this), she realizes that he broke up with her so he could go out with someone else in an attempt to feel less guilty about it. And she’s confirmed it in her own mind now because she saw him flirting with this other girl. It hurts just writing it, actually. My characters, despite some of the shit I do to them, are extremely important to me. They’re extensions of me. So, the question is, how does this count to my own experience? Have I now experienced a relationship vicariously? An experience I’m sorely lacking, especially at my age?
It really bruised my ego further because I realized something through this: If I were in an actual relationship in real life, this is how it would go. I would barely see the girl I’d be going out with and after a while they would decide I’m boring and move on. It’s got me even more hopeless than ever, really, and this is the worst possible time to be feeling this way when I’m trying to get a new job.