This is going to be long, and slightly emotional, so strap in.
From a very young age, around I felt alone, probably around 9 or 10. I was labeled as the weird kid. So because of that, having no friends for so long, really messed with me. I became anti-social, and socially awkward as a result. I made a few friends once I got to middle school and high school, but I still felt alone. But there's one day I remember vividly. I didn't realize it at the moment, but it would change my life.
One day in the lunch room, one of my few friends was telling me about this show. He said it was made using the popular FPS, Halo. At this time, I was a Playstation fan, I hated Halo and was skeptical of it. But one day, in October of 2006, I was home from school, and my parents were at work, and my sisters in school. So I decided to watch my first episode of the "popular Web series Red vs. Blue." a place I know that's tucked away, a place where you and I can stayI can't remember how many episodes I watched that day, but I was hooked. Over the next few weeks, whenever I had the house to myself, since we only had one computer and it was out in the open, I'd watch Red vs. Blue on Google. Yes, Google. This was before YouTube and back when only sponsors had access to the backlog of episodes. But, once I finished the backlog, I went to the site to watch, which was at some point during season 5 of Bloodgulch Chronicles. Eventually I started reading the comics, watching the RT Shorts, listening to what was then known as The Drunk Tank, now the RT Podcast, and now I watch everything they do.
Then Achievement Hunter came along. Now, of course, being a poor high school kid, I couldn't exactly afford a 360 or newer games, so I had little use for guides. But then, a few years ago, they started doing Let's Plays. At this point, I was out of high school. I didn't go to college so I was struggling to find myself, and a job. But watching Let's Plays on YouTube became an escape for me. It started back on Machinima Realm with SlyFoxHound, which then went to his personal channel, which led to more YouTubers to watch. Once AH started doing them, let's plays were engraved into my entertainment repatoire(sp?). What turned into a few videos a week, turned into weekly entertainment, now AH is literally the only let's plays I'll watch. I've grown to love all of them, my favorites being Jeremy and Ryan. The countless hours of entertainment has gotten me through some bad days. A lot of bad days.
I'm not exactly sure when it had started, maybe it was after high school or during my very long tenure at Target, but at some point in the last 7 years, I started feeling very depressed. I hated my life, I hated my job, my parents were overbearing to the point where I know they think I'm a disappointment, I lost the few friends I had kept from high school, and everything just seems to go wrong. But a constant source of light in the darkness of my every day life was RT and AH, and later, Funhaus. I'd come home from work, or on my days off, when I wasn't playing video games, and watch videos from them. They made me laugh, and feel like everything was ok, however short it lasted.
Still looking for like minded people, I thought to myself, "where should I look?" Then it hit me. There's -
a place I know that's tucked away, a place where you and I can stay a place like that. A place with people who have done amazing things over the years: the RT community. But I didn't exactly have time to interact a lot on the site, so I joined a RT Facebook group. Then, Let's Play Live NY came along. As soon as I heard about the show, I bought tickets as soon as I could. Being from Jersey, and never having attended RTX, I wanted to jump on the chance. It was a chance to meet people. While it didn't go as it had hoped, it did open me up to RTNY, since at the time, the RTNJ group I had found initially was DOA. You know, like the Foo Fighter's song. Anyway, since I joined them, I took place in as many of their events as I could. Of course not being in NY, and working a crap retail job disabled me from being able to take part in their meet ups, I took part in as many of their twice-a-week game nights as I could. I suddenly found myself feeling better about myself. I felt a part of the community I had so long been silent in.
Then, the Let's Play Live East Coast Tour was announced. Like NY, I bought a ticket as quick as I could. This time I had as First membership, so jot only did I get into the pre-sale for the Newark show, I got an incredible seat for the same price I paid at NY for a general admission seat on the second balcony at Hammerstein Ballroom. I was 10 rows from the stage at NJPAC. Jack even answered me at one point, when I yelled that Gavin having trouble with his penis was "nothing new." And possibly Jeremy did too when I yelled that he had worms during the GMOD Hide and Seek game play when he was dragging his ass on the ground in the game, but I digress.
The show was amazing, but even more amazing was the people I met. Before the show, I met up with some fans from Ryan's Madhouse, then with the more active RTNJ Community group. It was one of the best times I've ever had. Talking to everyone, and actually interacting with fellow fans in person, even shooting an AHWU, which made it into the next AHWU, was something I really needed. The next day, I found the RTNJ group, and quickly joined their Discord. It's been two weeks since the show, and I've felt better in these last two weeks than I have in years. And I have RT, AH, Funhaus, RTNY, and RTNJ to thank for this.
If there has to be anything to take away from this very long post, it's this: if you're struggling in life, in any way, I can honestly say, it gets better. But it's a marathon, not a sprint. It takes time, and some work, but it can get better, and it will get better. Just don't give up, and, as Jared Padalecki says, "Always Keep Fighting."