It came up again at Warriors and Warlords. In fact, it was one of the trivia questions that the court herald used as filler while the assembled dignitaries were getting organized.
What is the award you usually get after being in the Society for about a year??? The Award of Arms.
And there I was, in the crowd, celebrating my anniversary of being an official member of the SCA (I’ve ghosted around off and on for decades).
But no one had been hinting or making sure that I would be attending Court; so I was pretty sure I would not be called up that day. And I had a whole lot of good reasons lined up in my head for why I would not be getting my AoA any time soon. Keeping my expectations low, I was trying to avoid disappointment.
Still, I felt depressed for a couple of weeks, asking myself why I was overlooked. What was I doing wrong?
I get to archery practice about twice per month. My sorta “local” group only meets once per month (if that), but I was attending what meetings they had. I had helped out with most events I’d attended, including preparing for and doing a fundraiser. I learned how to sew again (which I swore I’d never do after I was done with home-ec in high school). I was bringing prospective members to events.
So, why wasn’t I called up??? I knew it was silly, but I still felt let down. I’m an achievement-focused person**; so I knew this would be a potential problem for me, and I still felt blue that it hadn’t happened on this loose, rule-of-thumb schedule.
Thinking about other people from small, minimally-active groups, I quickly realized that there are folks who have been officers for years – who have not yet gotten their AoA. So, I didn’t feel so bad. I was in some good company.
Still, I really wish that people would stop perpetuating the myth that members get their first award after about a year of being “reasonably” active.
If you are a newcomer like me who – just because of the way we are wired** – marks progress by milestones and external recognition, all I can say is hang in there. Remind yourself of what you enjoy about the SCA and renew your efforts there. Re-evaluate activities and sub-groups to see if they fit your needs. I went through a bunch of my Facebook SCA-related groups and decided that many were not important for me right now.
Conversely, if the people you are hanging around with in the SCA, especially your local group, are not supporting you and giving you feedback, start looking around for OTHER groups or activities where you might find more supportive friends. It is a big organization, and if one bunch of people turns a collectively frigid shoulder, I am pretty sure you will find others who will value newcomers. At least, I hope you will. After a year, I still feel like a kid looking through the window at all of the treats I can’t have as people around me talk about their household, mentors, and friends.
I also decided to pursue some non-SCA activities that will allow me to feel a sense of accomplishment and control my own progress. Running, for instance, is something I enjoy, and setting goals toward running a half-marathon again next year is a way to set milestones that don’t rely upon someone noticing my activity and progress. And I can be a useful herald without attending any events just by doing monthly reviews for the Kingdom’s submissions.
Ultimately, it is just a hobby, although one that many people seem to derive a great deal of satisfaction from. I hope that other people find the wonderful, welcoming SCA that seems to be eluding me, but for now, I am not going to drive long distances and pay good money just so that people can snub my attempts at conversation while I wonder if this will be the Court at which I am welcomed into the fold.
** Telling someone who is achievement focused that they shouldn’t be so concerned about awards is akin to telling someone they shouldn’t be depressed or have some other chronic condition. I’ve been setting up goals and knocking them down for more than 50 years. I do my best to be mellow about recognitions. But it will always be a major reason I play this or any game.