Battling Burnout


For days, weeks, months I stared at my screen. Knowing that I should continue writing. People liked my blog and I still had a lot to say… but something happened. Something broke inside me. Every blog I forced myself to write seemed off; I didn’t feel the excitement that I normally did from knowing that my heart was on the paper and someone out there was going to be able to relate and learn from my experience. It felt fake and disconnected, like some random author was paid to write during a boring cloudy Monday with crappy coffee and ugly fluorescent lighting.

Each time I saved the blog and buried it away to never be read again. Maybe if I just kept writing, forcing myself to go through the motions my muse will return.

For days, weeks, months I sat in my car driving to a practice or event. Knowing that I should continue fighting. People liked my enthusiasm and I still had a lot to accomplish… but something happened. Something broke inside me. Every fight I forced myself to enter just seemed off; I didn’t feel the excitement that I normally did knowing I was going to learn something and come out feeling proud of myself. It felt fake and disconnected, like some random fighter who was doing it all for the wrong reasons and didn’t want to have fun.

Each time I muddled through the fight and walked away from it, never to think about my performance again. Maybe if I just keep fighting, forcing myself through the motions, my muse will return.

That’s the thing… it never did.

Burnout is a term that was thrown around me very early on in my SCA career. The man who I had asked to be my knight was stepping up as Prince at the time and I vowed to attend every event and give it my all. One of the main reasons I asked him to become my knight was because of how active he was in the SCA. I admired that.

I hate that you can see it in my face how tired and unhappy I am. This was a state that I had put myself in.
I hate that you can see it in my face how tired and unhappy I am. This was a state that I had put myself in. Photo Credit: James Pallack

How Did My SCA Burnout Happen?

I knew from day one I wanted to become involved and it made me happy to meet people and have other people come up to me. I loved learning and was completely focused on my fitness so I was eagerly attending two or three practices a week and an event every weekend. Everyone, my knight included, warned me to pace myself. They told me to take it slow and enjoy the magic around me.

But I didn’t. There was no one to blame but me. And I don’t regret a single moment of it. I got to meet and learn from some of the best fighters that the SCA has to offer. I was able to learn about the SCA from different perspectives, new member all the way up to King.

I fought in multiple kingdoms and even out of the country. I went on road trips and visited landmarks that I never in a million years would have even considered and I loved every second of it. Not only did I learn about my country… but I learned about myself. I humbled my mind and just enjoyed the moment, fully letting myself experience the adventure without any thought to anyone else.

Laying under the stars and staring deep into fires while trying all sorts of homemade drinks and dishes while still being satisfied with bread and honey butter. The wonderment of trying on different garb and becoming someone else for the day to the focus of picking up a sword and getting strength from it. Bowing in front of some of the most influential people and completely stumbling over introductions as I didn’t know the difference between my lady and Her Majesty. Those moments were the most freeing moments I’ve ever experienced.

Yet, only two years in and I’m burned out. I’m bitter. I’m jaded and impatient. I’ve lost sight of that magic and no one mourns that as much as me.

Leaning on my squire sister for strength after fighting all day.
Leaning on my squire sister for strength after fighting all day. Photo Credit: Meredith Bailin Hull

What Caused My Burnout?

I’m really into self-development these days, ever since I lost all the weight, and instead of walking away and just taking my burnout for what is was, I wanted to dig a little deeper. What REALLY caused me to hate something I once loved so much? And why am I having such a difficult time returning to that place of enjoyment? I wanted to pull apart the problem not only for myself but for others that have experienced the same feeling of disconnect.

I was at the height of my fighting, I just had a huge improvement in my skill and I was feeling as confident as ever. My blog was doing really well and I had just started a really exciting relationship. I was planning on moving closer to practices and had the perfect job. I was on top of the world and feeling untouchable! I was truly and completely proud of myself. Then I traveled to Estrella War in Arizona and had my shoulder dislocated and separated on the field in battle.

During one of the many parties at Estrella Wars with my fashionable sling. Smile brought to you by alot of pain meds.
During one of the many parties at Estrella Wars with my fashionable sling. Smile brought to you by alot of pain meds.

I came home and everything just kind of fell apart… I couldn’t fight for months and felt like a letdown. I kept building up these goals and expectations in my mind the longer I didn’t fight which made my come back all the more difficult. When I did come back I was back at square one with fighting but also weak, in pain and scared to hurt my shoulder again. I became insecure. My relationship fell apart. I never moved and the job fell through. I didn’t want to face anyone because my own issues were screaming louder than their reassurances.

I continued to attend events and practices but my heart wasn’t in it anymore. I wear my emotions on my sleeve and people knew something was wrong, I knew something was wrong… but I couldn’t exactly figure it out. Until someone I highly respect in the community was struggling to find her love for the SCA again. She’s done it all and never would I expect someone in that situation not only to experience burnout but to struggle in finding the motivation again. She came out about it publicly and it was right after my decline. I realized I was experiencing my own version of burnout.

Not long after, I attended Pennsic and had numerous people come up to me and thank me. Thank me for writing and reigniting their passion in the SCA. I couldn’t help but laugh because here standing in front of them was someone who was desperately trying to find her own passion again. I asked each and every one of them what did they love about the SCA in the beginning, what burned them out and what really made them find love again for this hobby? I asked them like a dehydrated woman begging for a drop of water. And you know what? Each and every one of them had completely different answers. It made me happy to have helped them but also deeply sad that there wasn’t an easy fix.

Months went by. I wasn’t fair to the people around me. My knight who I used to see multiple times a week, keep in touch with and push myself to make him proud… I completely pulled away from. My new SCA friends who I considered family, I couldn’t talk to because I felt like I had let them down. I was miserable and I couldn’t hide it anymore. I didn’t want them to be unhappy because I was unhappy and I was selfish in the fact that I felt like an embarrassment so I walked away.

I stepped back. Not like I did before, hiding in my bedroom skipping practices or ignoring calls from my knight or faking a smile and going through the motions. I broke myself down and stepped away from the world. I literally walked into the middle of the woods and meditated. What was the REASON? What was the ROOT of this problem?

You can't run from yourself when you're the only one there.
You can’t run from yourself when you’re the only one there.

Finally, the last piece of the puzzle fell into place. It was me, completely and blatantly me. I kept waiting on something that had never changed to make me happy when I had been the one that changed all along!

Those fellow burnt out scadians at Pennsic didn’t have different answers. It didn’t matter if someone was two years into the SCA or twenty years into the SCA. And it’s not the SCA, heck the SCA hasn’t changed in 50 years much to many of our frustrations.

The magic never left, it was always there. I just stopped seeing it.

I had inspired others because they were seeing the SCA through my eyes. Seeing things and appreciating things that they once saw and appreciated on their own. The simple things. Wearing a fur on a beautiful fall day. Seeing a smiling face that you only get to see every few months. Pushing yourself to overcome a problem that you once saw as an adventure but now is an annoyance to complain about and get caught up on.

Burnout Recovery: My Action Plan

I just have to slow myself down and see the magic again. Realize that the pressures and unattainable goals I got caught up in were my own undoing and not the SCA’s. That the SCA world will continue on with or without me and I can either add or take away from each experience. In the end I’m only hurting myself. Or I can take control and find that simple joy that I felt my first year in.

I love these girls and they love me! I need to remember that and enjoy the chances I get to spend with them. I wouldn't have met them if it wasn't for the SCA.
I love these girls and they love me! I need to remember that and enjoy the chances I get to spend with them. I wouldn’t have met some of my closest friends if it wasn’t for the SCA.

I was a mess and I still am. I hit rock bottom but I’ve decided: no more. That being miserable and on the bottom making up excuses and hiding in a dark bedroom because I’m embarrassed is not going to get any better. How many times in my life did I give up on something and wish that I could do it all over again? Well, this is my chance. So here’s to all of you that approached me at Pennsic, my knight, my squire sister and my SCA family that never gave up on me. Thank you. I’m going to build myself mentally and physically up again and come out even stronger.

This guy right here. My Knight, Sir Brennan, has never once given up on me. Through thick and thin I knew I could always count on him. It's rare to find someone that supportive in a lifetime. I would have never met him if it wasn't for the SCA.
This guy. My Knight, Sir Brennan, has never once given up on me. Through thick and thin I knew I could always count on him. It’s rare to find someone that supportive in a lifetime. I would have never met him if it wasn’t for the SCA.

Next event or practice you go to… ask yourself, not what can the SCA do for you, but what can you do for the SCA? Especially if it’s as small as looking around with fresh new eyes and finding something to smile about because that is the magic we can’t lose sight of.

These women... these women right here are some of the strongest women I know. Not only am I lucky enough to know them but I get to call them friends. I would have never had this chance to meet amazing role models if it wasn't for the SCA.
These women… these women right here are some of the strongest women I know. Not only am I lucky enough to know them but I get to call them friends. I would have never had this chance to meet amazing role models if it wasn’t for the SCA.

Featured Image Photo Credit: James Pallack

37 thoughts on “Battling Burnout

  1. Feeling this so much – especially right now as I am forced into inactivity due to a concussion. Thanks for always putting some solid thoughts out there – helps me chew on my own items.

    1. Amen. Equestrian, now benched due to a horrible accident breaking my neck /getting concussed at our Emprise last year. Now trying to reinvent my SCA career as a non-fighter. It sucks but you know what? The friends are still there. And they are the best and only reason for me to keep playing;) Because it can still be “play”, joy. I am discovering that.

  2. The magic is in the people of the SCA. Take a step back, don’t fight . Just enjoy taking things in and you’ll see and hear the magic going on around you. From children laughing to the big laughs of the last nights drunken shenanigans. The woo there I was stories. The food. I’ve been back for two years and I haven’t stepped back onto the battle field yet. I love the magic I see in all of my scadian families eyes everytime I go to an event. Just the sheer joy of seeing people , even people that I see on a regular basis. So in short. Stop trying to accomplish goals and take time to take things in and enjoy them.

  3. Thank you for putting voice to this. It’s a discussion my apprentice sister and I were just having. I am suffering from burn out… also of my own making… and it’s nice to know that I am not alone and also that there’s a path back. I just have to make it.

  4. Thanks! Perhaps I should just get dressed up again. It couldn’t hurt – too much – right?

  5. It is not always “burnout,” that’s just the triggering event. was very involved locally and had joined one of the larger fighting houses. I went to most of the kingdom war practices and events, spending lots of time and money. It almost became a second job. All season long, the push in the East is for Pennsic. I was at 100 Minutes, the last fighting event before winter, looking forward to a break before the Pennsic brumbeat began again. Until the Prince called for fighters to practice over the winter in 5 man teams. Feelings of burnout began to set in, but I didn’t know how to back away. Then my father got ill, and Pennsic was off the table. So was all the pressure, from myself and the SCA. I have tried several times over the last 6 years to get back into it, but I just can’t. The cost benefit ratio just isn’t there. Events are basically the same thing over and over, and I don’t want to live a life of reruns. I went to Pennsic twice, and that’s enough for me.

    Sometimes it’s just a matter of recognizing the SCA not being for everyone. I may participate occasionally in the future, but can’t say where or when.

  6. Thank you for an excellent insight into the phenomena of burnout. This is something I continue to struggle with, personally; for over a decade, the SCA was pretty much my second life…but numerous life circumstances completely shattered my ability to see the magic. Now, I live in a new area, with new opportunities, but actually dragging myself out to do them has been damned hard. Like you said, I feel rather like an observer in some stranger’s body when I go out and try. There is an emptiness, a hollow spot that swallows up the light and joy and turns my memories into strange, robotic motions.

    I don’t know what to do about it, honestly. I think a large part of the hesitation on my part is that the thing that brought me to the SCA is no longer an option anymore. The idea of starting fresh, of being new and terrible again…is daunting.

  7. Tina, I’m not an SCA member but I’m a self-published writer, and we struggle with the same issues for different reasons–taking something we once loved as a hobby and turning it into a business. Right now I’m reading an amazing book called “Drive: The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us” by Daniel H. Pink, which was recommended to me by a successful self-published writer. It’s about the psychology of motivation, what happens when we turn “play” into “work” in our minds, and how extrinsic rewards can actually de-motivate people (and make them lose interest in things they once loved). It’s really been helping me understand some of my own issues. When I read your blog it seemed to me that you were talking about a lot of the same things that the author talks about in his book, and that reading it might give you some ideas for helping yourself get re-motivated. I wish you well in rediscovering your love for SCA!

  8. Or, perhaps, making goals of ‘being’ instead of ‘doing’. I’m back in the SCA after a long while away, and what’s striking me is how simple the simple pleasures are. I go out every week to fighter practice, just to be with my people. I’m amazed at how content it makes me to sit by myself and knit, when I’m the only non-fighter there. It’s a couple of hours of being where I’m supposed to be. In a little while, I’ll start stepping it up by becoming an officer again, teaching again, getting involved in running events again. But for right now, just being is enough.

    1. Jocelyn Martin
      OMG…you hit the nail on the head for me. I was very involved in the SCA, running events, running feasts (for 300 people) doing archery, and drumming, and illumination, and silk banner making, and fletching all my households arrows, and service to the Baron/Baroness, and Gold Key, and teaching Kumihimo, and learning blackwork, and making mead…and, and, and,… I never stopped…I was always moving at a run, hurrying here, and there, and where is this item, and who had that last event…Then, I was forced to take a break, moving halfway across the country, to Texas, where I knew no one…I tried to get into the SCA, but I didn’t know them, and they didn’t need anyone in their little cliques…and I didn’t fit it…they were all couples, I was single…they knew each other, I didn’t. So I dropped out, completely, using work as an excuse…then I moved again, to IN, and I thought to try again, but before I could I was called home to care for a dying parent. Having lost my father the year before, I headed North to Canada right away. After 2 years Mamma passed, but I stayed here…it was sort of home, and I didn’t really belong in the US anymore. I started trying to go to fight practice, but could not arrange a regular ride…and the same with events, I can’t really plan to attend an event unless I can arrange a ride, and for a camping event that means a ride for a lot of stuff too. I am used to being part of a group when I camp in SCA, and here…I am off, listed as a solitary…damn it I don’t want to be solitary, I don’t want to be alone….but like in Texas, I am…they are more welcoming here in Canada, but after they stop by my tent and fire for a few minutes, they move on…and I crawl into my tent and weep quietly. I am working on my Seasonal Affective Disorder with my Dr, but camping in summer should be good for that. A lot of the times when I do get to FP, I have no one to talk to…because the other non-fighters ar marshals, or together talking about an event I was not at…I find it is better in cold season, when we are at the school, because then people are in a confined area, and actually talk to the ‘newbie’ more, and then find out my history, and that I am far from new. This took a strange path…but I do like what you wrote, and it did touch me…and I am going to work on being like that…and maybe, just being a bit more welcoming and open when someone does take a moment to talk to me…
      Lady R…

  9. This totally touched me. I’ve been dealing with burnout for the past year….possibly more. We have a small Shire that was on hiatus due to lack of members. 4 years ago, I brought it back. I dragged people back, kicking and screaming, we took offices, we came out of hiatus, we hosted a super kick-ass event. I was Seneschal. When my term was up, I became Chronicler, then Hospitaler. I autocratted 3 events in that 4 year period. Some of them while still holding the Seneschal’s office.

    This past Spring I helped a long-time player aut-o-crat an event. And I really did her a disservice. Instead of telling her to do the legwork, manage the details, and learn how to run an event…..I just did it myself. I knew who to talk to, what needed done and when, and it was just easier for me to go ahead and do it myself.

    After that event, I realized that I was in serious trouble with the SCA. I looked at my Shire mates, my friends, my Household sisters and realized that at that moment, I didn’t want to see any of them. For a very long time. It took me 4 weeks to recover physically and mentally from that event.

    I thought about the SCA, and I felt angry. I felt like I had gone from playing a game to being obligated to do the work. People came to me for advice or with questions and I resented them for bothering me.

    My Pelican and I talked one afternoon, and she asked me when the last time I did something I enjoyed, for myself. And I couldn’t think of a date, or even what I enjoyed. She told me that I needed to stop shouldering the burden, and find what made *me* satisfied.

    I’m still on the road to recovery. I haven’t sewn any garb for anyone else since April. I’ve refused to. We had some choppy waters with the Seneschal’s office. I did not jump in to fix it for them. We’re planning a newcomers day in October. I won’t be attending, because I haven’t requested time off. There’s an event at the end of the month that I’d rather attend.

    I’m trying to get back in touch with the love I had for the SCA. I think it’s going to be a long bumpy road.

  10. Thank you for posting your story. After 38 years of being active, I find myself no longer as active as in the past. Part of it is age. But, I find that I cannot walk away because there is too much of my SCA family that would not be present in the other world. In recent months some of my old SCA family has returned and it feels like a homecoming when we meet. Corresponding through emails and FB messages is great, but does not replace the hugs, laughing together and sharing old stories. Reading your story has given me a boost towards improving my experience in the Dream. Thank you, again.

  11. My motto is “If you aren’t having fun, you are doing it wrong.” (I got it from my pelican.) I don’t mean it in a shaming, guilt-ridden way, but more as a reminder to myself that if I have more than one or two off days that I need to step back and ask myself what I need to adjust.

    Sometimes it means that I skip events to sleep in or do something else, or I don’t take my armor, or that I don’t go to court. Sometimes it means I take all the classes, or help on the kitchen, or spend all day in camp kibitzing, or all day on the field doing pickups. Sometimes it means saying yes, and sometimes it means saying no or even I’m sorry.

    But I do this because it brings me joy and I can bring others joy. I have almost erased “should” from my SCA vocabulary. It has helped me keep loving this game, this hobby, this dream, for over 18 years.

    It’s hard, so hard, when something that refreshed you starts to wear instead. I’m so happy for you that you are on your way to finding joy in it again.

  12. I’ve watched Burn- out happen so many times and it happened to me. All one can do is support our sister or brother and help them find the magic again – keep sight of the reason you love the SCA – step back and heal yourself. There could be other reasons that your not aware of. Once the healing starts – the passion returns.

  13. If you were to change the fighting side to A&S and the “time in” from 2 to 5 years, you would be describing me pretty well. Oh, and forget about the weight loss bit because gods know that hasn’t happened with me!

    I’m tired. I’m tired of politics and the look-at-me’s. I’m tired of the one-upmanship and the drive to compete in the A&S community. And I’m tired of feeling the pressure to show off what I create via displays and largess. There are a couple of events/reasons that have not helped my state of mind but generally, I’m not sure how I got here. Stepping back and letting things roll on by feels like defeat.

    I don’t know exactly what I need but I know I can’t go on like this.

    1. That’s where I am now. I am ready to pack away all the gear or sell it off because I can’t seem to find the enjoyment I once did with A&S.

  14. I saw you at pennsic. I knew who you were but was battling my own demons of not feeling like I was as good as you. I wasn’t loving the sca like you were. I too, was burnt out. My fighting had come to a stand still in progression. I felt a bit lost… Almost like an outsider. I fought through it until I fought in a torchlight tournament for men at arms and just let myself feel it. To hear the shouts of encouragement. To allow myself a new experience. I did it out of obligation to a friend. I wouldn’t change that night for the world. I finally found it again. My world has shifted. My only regret is that I left myself in such a dark hole that I never talked to you. Keep your head up. I promise the next time, I will speak to you.

  15. When I went through this a few years ago I changed my scene in the SCA. I stepped off the list fields for almost a full year. I did the things non fighters did in SCA. I went to events without fighting and learned a lot of new things. It helped me find my joy again. Now I can temper my activities with some of my new found interests. If I am not feeling in on the list field then perhaps the dance hall is where I need to be or helping heralds with consultations. I found other things I could do or was interested in and the magic returned for me. Good luck in your pursuit of the dream

  16. Two years in? Most fighters are just starting to find their skill. And you got hurt. So you became effectively a newbe fighter again. Sucks. But there is only one weapon, the mind. Your weapon has not had a setback, just your body. You went all in to the society, and then had enforced non fighting. Perfect storm for burnout. You cannot perform at the level you expect yourself to perform. Even though your body does not perform it will. Do the physical therapy. Learn what your body can do today and do that. As always, work the fundamentals. I understand physical limitation burnout. 3 rotator cuff tears and ankle surgery has pretty much ended my fighting career. I am still a warrior. I still may get the armor back together and scare hell out of new fighters. So, your burnout question is; are you a warrior?

  17. Thanks for this blog Tina
    I met you at Bico, probably at the height of my burn out. At Bico I could see the magic and joy all around me, but I couldn’t really feel any of it. A lot of what you talk about here resonates with me. I’ve still got a long way to go on my own Personal Journey, but when I read something like this, from someone who I saw as such a strong and powerful person, it shows me I’m not alone and that there is always hope for change.

  18. I’ve absolutely been where you are..the first part of my SCA life was much like yours…I jumped right in, became a Landed Baroness fairly quickly, and had a great time for about ten years. Then, I got burned out, and walked away completely, for 15 years. I cut off contact with everyone except for one good friend. Probably not the best way to deal with things, but the only way I could handle it at the time. When I decided to try and come bsck, I was afraid. I was quite sure that I had hurt several people, in the process of my own self preservation, but amazingly, I was welcomed back much more warmly than I had expected. I had been much harder on myself for leaving, than anyone else had. It has been a little more than a year since I came back, and I found the magic again, in different ways than I had before. It’s still there. If you’re ever in Aethelmearc, drop by the Rhydderich Hael. ..I’ll be there. :)

  19. Thank you for sharing your struggle with burnout. It’s inspired the blog post I’ve written for this coming Wednesday at Lost Hemisphere. I look forward to hearing tales of yourt climbing out of the pit and back into the light. Love you hobby, for surely it loves you.

  20. I met you briefly at adult swim. I’m a 52 year old fat and out of shape broad who at one time aspired to fighting. I have lost that. 6 weeks after I authorized, I stiff-armed a fall and broke my elbow. Two years later I finally have most of my lower arm rotation back but it will never straighten again. My would be knight… another story for another time in person and private. My barony politics suck boulders through cocktail straws and the one good friend I thought I had here betrayed me.

    Burned out, ugly sad and without hope, I have remained this way now for 3 years with no real end in sight.

    I have contemplated quitting completely many times but never have the courage to do so and have no idea where to go from here.

    I thank you for sharing.

    In service,

    Thl Erzebet Fauconneau

  21. We travel different circles, yet I have seen you.

    I’ve been playing for nearly 20 years, in 4 kingdoms, in 4 countries, and yes. For a while I too burned out.

    I had taken too much responsibility onto myself. I did all the things. I had to be great at all the things. I had to carry the group because nobody else would.

    It took someone dragging me to an event where I found the *people* again.

    You see, the magic of the SCA is not the fighting, or the garb, or the dancing, or the singing, or, or, or.

    It’s the people.

    Find *your* people again. The ones who have the joy in their hearts, and the passion, and the Fire…. and help them. Watch them grow. Nurture them in their path of FUN.

    It’s contagious. Fun is. Find what you do for FUN.

    Do more of that.

    And share it.

    That’s where the magic is.

  22. I’m in a burnout phase. I’ve been around for about 30 yrs. The Sca has changed, through the people involved. Part of the source of my burnout is I just can’t do the things I did before. I used to fight heavy, fenced, archery, calligraphy,illumination… I can’t do them because of physical limitations… I can’t even do much of the ” helping ” things( moving stuff). I am currently a regional chatelaine, and an equestrian marshall…

  23. I’m a LARPer. Oh no, run! If you’re still reading…. …I got into LARP ten years ago. I’ve been thinking about the SCA ever since and I’m sure one day I’ll get into it, but that’s not what I wanted to talk about. LARP fell apart for me. I became frustrated and angry and the rules that seemed to be changing every month, with people migrating away. Eventually I discovered that those running the LARP were suffering burnout. I started re-writing the rules, designing a new game and it gave me a creative outlet that really sorted me out. Now a year later, the re-write is wrapping up and out LARP has announced it’s end, and I am looking at the nerve wracking proposition of running my own LARP club. So I make it a point of looking at everything. I’ve done a huge study of game design, looked into psychology and talked to dozens and dozens of people about running systems and what they want out of them. I’ve talked to the SCA, to CAM, table-top gamers and even sword school members. Basically, it looks like having others to shoulder the stress is useful and limiting how accessible you are to the members.

    As for Burnout itself, I wish I had an answer. I was an avid Magic the Gathering player for over 10 years. But I lost a friend who played and the game was just never the same anymore. I haven’t played in years now. It was very strange to me because it was the first major hobby that I really gave up. I think that’s what happened when you were injured. Maybe you saw your mortality and that’s really, really hard to get over. I saw it when I was young but that’s another story and not relevant.

    I hate to say it. But maybe you need to let it go. It might come back and it might not. When you force yourself to keep going, out of habit, loyalty or longing for a sensation that is gone, every little thing starts to bother you and nothing seems right and it’s all just really frustrating. It seems like you’ve come to this conclusion yourself, so I’ll share with you one final ray of hope.

    I went into my hobby store and I saw a new MTG card and it just caught me. I pulled out the dusty bag of cards and rebuilt a deck for the first time in ages. I want to get back into it, but maybe try playing in ways I never played before. Maybe you need to go back to CSA as an archer, or something else for a while. I wish I could close with a brilliant piece of advice but always keep doing something. I move from tabletop games to going outside for LARP and maybe I’ll end up in the SCA or at Academy Duello. Sometimes you just go with what works now and maybe that flow of activity will take you back. I really wish you the best of luck with it.

  24. I just went to my 25th Anniversary Event – and received my AoA. I have not been able to be active for 25 years, Mundania kept getting in the way. But, somehow, being forced to step away due to finances or job schedules has made it all the sweeter when I came back. Yes, there have been times when I have wondered if it is worth it. For me, it works that when those moments strike, I find something to Do. Spend an hour or two at Gate – and see how happy people are to be arriving at an Event. Volunteer in the kitchen, lose myself in working, hard, then go to a Bardic and watch as a complete stranger seemingly makes a fool of him/herself, forgetting the words …. and everybody applauds anyway, because at least they Tried. And knowing that that support is there for me, as well. I’ve been there. I’ve started a song, or a poem, and forgotten the words, and been told “no, no, it’s great, you’ll do better next time” – and I have! The love, and the encouragement, has made that possible for me. Sometimes we need to step aside. From the SCA, from work, from other hobbies. I have been married to the same man for 43 years, and one thing we both understand is the concept of Alone Time. Sometimes he needs to go away and be by himself. So do I. So don’t be afraid to step aside if that is what you need. When you choose to come back,both you and the SCA will be he better for it.

  25. My wife got me into the SCA over 10 years ago, and for the longest time I loved it. My thing was cooking and camping. Spending money on a period tent, planning period things to use in my encampment, and learning and developing period cooking skills, including over a wood fire. I worked hard to put together a collection that would look good in a period encampment at local events. I was loving the game and enjoying the magic.

    Then I joined a household after camping with them at an event. That was a mistake. Though the people were nice and inviting, they used and abused my hospitality at every event. I was not a fighter, and had little or no interest in it. So I offered to cook, with the expectation that the fighters would help clean up. I created meal plans, with the expectation that the cost of the meals would be covered by the fighters. Meal after meal, event after event, the dishes were left behind, and excuses of spending too much on a new gauntlet or more rattan piled up. I left and joined a new household, with high hopes of change. Those hopes were dashed quickly at the very next event. Within 3 years, I sold my Panther Pavillion and all but gave up camping at events.

    And it’s not just that. Cooking became my thing. I offered to help in the kitchen at every single event that had a feast. I eventually took on the task of preparing many feasts for many events. Eventually, my shire was granted the chance to host a Coronation. I planned a great meal. I lined up many people to help cook, clean, and serve. Slowly, one by one, weeks and days before the event, messages arrived that each and every one of them would not be able to attend. Three of these helpers just failed to show up on the day and never answered any messages after the event. I later found out that two of them actually attended the event and avoided the kitchen where I was stuck! What few shire members we could spare (we were a small shire) were able to help, and the meal was not a failure (but also not a success). Two feasts after that had similar experiences, and I was left with one or two people helping me create a feast for nearly 100 people. I have no intention of volunteering in an SCA kitchen ever again.

    Yes, I know that burnout is often caused by the person, but when you have so many people fail you when you need them most just exacerbates the problem. Don’t get me wrong, I love the people in my Shire. We have a great thing going here. And there are others in the Kingdom that I miss hanging out with very much. But with my two loves, camping and cooking, being such a negative part of the game, I find myself looking for something new. For something that will help ME find the magic again. Most importantly, something I can enjoy even if nobody else EVER cares about what I am doing again. This is my SCA burnout.

  26. Greetings from Sweden, Europe. (Nordmark, Drachenwald)

    After 5 years of fighting I stopped fighting in 2002-2006. I hated every event I went to during that phase, I thought that I had no value if I wasn’t the ever smiling bouncing young female fighter who should match peoples expectations quicker, better, to become an augmented version of me. After a while I realised that noone really cared about my results in fighting, so I got new subobjectives and picked up my sword again. Your text is a reminder and a good explanation to much of what I went through. Now finally I understand the mechanisms behind my experiences. Thank you and good luck.

  27. As someone who has suffer the slings and arrows of outrageous self-inflicted mistakes, my first react to this post was as unsavory as it was unfair.

    You talk about the magic, the muse, and the spark. These metaphors are there not for the good times, but for the bad times. Like now. Or like then. As metaphors they can lead you to the truth about what you are doing, mostly to yourself, but also to other people. Ask yourself does this work? If the answer is no, then drop it, and find another way. That way is entirely up to you.

    More importantly, don’t look to other folks for inspiration. Look to yourself. If what you are doing in the SCA isn’t rewarding and/or fun, then why are you doing it? Only pleasing someone else makes you their creature. If they really were your friends, they would take you as is.

    Finally, don’t forget to have fun.

  28. I’m giving you a huge hug the next time I see you. It takes a lot of courage to put something like this out there.

    I will also say, don’t worry about putting a good face on it. Some days it will suck. That’s why we all stay. There are no better people to have around you when things suck than SCAdians. I know that from personal experience. We don’t care if you’re having a great day or a crappy one. We’ll be there. We’ll pick you up, help you drown your sorrows, or whatever it is you need.

    So, whether you’re fighting, or not; working, or not; happy, or not, it’s okay. Please come anyway and just be. That’s all we really want from our friends.

  29. You’re comments have given me an “Eureka!” moment.
    I’ve been to a few SCA events with a friend and her daughter. I enjoyed these events, was fascinated by them, and thought maybe this is the thing that will fill the void in my life. I was wrong. It’s not about the SCA or any other thing I try. It’s about me moving on from the loss of a”job” of sorts. I burned out from that job, and left, but find myself not doing anything else, just waiting for a call or a plea for my return. But after months of waiting, it hasn’t happened and I need to grieve that loss and start paying attention to me and the things that make me happy. I love the woods. I now live on wooded land, have been here for months, and haven’t taken one stroll into those woods. Maybe if I start, one step at a time, back to what I love instead of waiting for others to need me, I can fulfill my own needs. I’d like to continue learning about the SCA, but only after I’m back to me.
    Thank you for your blog and I wish you all the joy and fulfillment you’re looking for in your life.

  30. After leaving the SCA to help run a World Science Fiction Convention, I realized I missed a few of the people, but did not miss attending events.
    Getting up early to drive far away to stand around in a hot dusty field watching fighters do their thing. Waiting for the promised evening dancing, only to have it cancelled because court ran over; the tournaments were never cancelled – only the dancing. Cooking feasts that took weeks of planning, and days of preparation, only to have people complain about ingredients they can’t or won’t eat (but that they did not bother telling us about in advance), and then watching nearly everyone pack up and leave the site as soon as the feast was over, leaving the footsore and weary kitchen crew to clean up, sort, and pack, and usually mop the floors afterwards. One knight who helped us out all day told us afterwards that he was more tired and sore than he had been fighting all day at Pennsic.

    I was tired of feeling like the supporting cast for the heavy weapons fighters. There are kingdoms where I might have found more people who enjoyed the same kinds of things I did, but not here. Never here. It was not fun, and I left. I felt some regret about my emotional, and financial investment in it, but most regret the amount of time it took me to realize that it was no longer fun.

  31. What is the magic? The reason burnout happens so differently for so many is that what we define as the magic is seen so differently for all of us from the start. I stepped away for a time, and I regretted it. A lot of anger and a lot of booze. When I came back, I was still lost, rebellious, and loud.

    A good friend asked me to help her with with the local college group, and in the years since something clicked. Outside of the personal magic we may find at the outset that fascinates us in the SCA, we have and are a refuge for all of the outsiders and the misfits of this world to realize that they are not alone. I see the students walk into practices and craft days and its like a weight drops off of them. They leave energized and ready to face a culture of enforced normalcy that doesn’t seem to want them, and they are learning that they are strong enough to survive it and support each other.

    I think of friends sometimes, other outsiders without the support. Most of them didn’t last long. They had stories with ugly endings.

    For those who start to feel the burn, I urge you to work with the young; it can be frantic and sometimes even a little disappointing with those who drift away, but those who stay remind you why we do this. Learn from them and grow with them. We’re the sanctuary, the wilderness preserve for the joyful oddballs. In doing this I know for a fact that we have saved lives, prevented everything from suicides to spree shootings and connected people who never would have met. I personally know more than 20 children and adults who exist because of the SCA. Their parents met through SCA, and in more than a few cases they were conceived at our events.

    So maybe that’s the message, at least in the way I see it: the magic is in the world and the homes we build for all of the future folks like us, who can’t fit anywhere else.

  32. Thank you so much for saying this, Tina. It’s amazing how universal this feeling is. I am in a similar place right now. I felt the magic from my first event, and played hard for two years, chasing that dream, then some bad behavior and bad politics really showed me that the sca isn’t perfect. I’m still trying to navigate that line of being the change I want to see and not getting sucked into doing too much,stepping back without giving up.

    I went to an event a week ago and started by walking away from the toxic conversations about gossip and politics instead of enduring them, by not racing to every item on the schedule, and by not expecting non – stop magic. The thrill of first love may have burned me, but I think I can still make it work.

  33. Dear Tina,
    Burnout does many things to many people and its never the same for everyone. Getting back isn’t either. When I started playing in the SCA 10 or so years ago, it was because I enjoyed history, and wanted to experience it as closely as possible. And I did, but years of being senechal, and autocrating events, and chatelaine positions took its toll. I have great friends that I will have for life because of the SCA. But, Im currently not playing. My husband and I retired and the first thing we did was sell off our entire encampment, and gold key our garb. We wanted to step away from what had once been fun but had become a job. It cost us time and money, and sometimes back breaking effort, and according to my husband, it wore me out because I often had to be “On” if you know what I mean as an officer, and someone who was often relied on for advice. I used to receive phone calls at 11:00 at night on questions about events or situations that were going on within the shire and the kingdom.
    I didnt join for that. I joined for fun, and I was relieved when we quit participating. But after 4 years off, we are starting to miss the SCA. We frequently find ourselves reminiscing about events we attended or things that occurred in the past, and falling asleep to the sound of laughter and drum circles at war.
    I think that sometimes you have to leave and become a “newbie” again to get back to enjoying the SCA.
    I even sat down this summer and made a few bits of garb, because this fall we will be moving into Trimaris, and I have already made contact with the Shire in the town we will live in. Once again after so many years off, I am excited to play again. Why, because it will be FUN, I will be a “newbie” again enjoying the SCA for what it can give me, not what I can give it.
    One event brought the whole thing into perspective- a member once phoned me after getting turned down as the feastocrat for our event, and said the SCA was her life, and that if she couldnt do the feast, she would commit suicide. In a fit of frustration I said, “just let me know where to send the flowers” .
    The SCA is PLAY and for FUN ONLY, its not who you are, or what your Mundane life is. While the SCA provides some of the best friends we will ever have, and a wealth of knowledge and experiences we could get no where else, it is just that – PLAYING FOR FUN. YOU are not obligated to do ANYTHING in the SCA, and if anyone asks, tell them your taking some time off.
    Anyone who knows me knows I dont mince words, you get it like it is right up front, political correctness be damned. If you are burnt out, quit for a while. You arent obligated to PLAY. Step away, and come back later, after youve had time to heal (in all aspects) and then just enjoy beginning again. Enjoy being a “Newbie” again.
    I know I will. I await our move into Trimaris with great expecations of falling asleep to the sounds of laughter and a drum circle.

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