Wow….I have written and erased this post so many times that I have lost count. I don’t have any amazing answers to any questions. I don’t have any life changing advice. I just want to tell you a little about myself and maybe, if you recognize a bit of yourself in my words, you will feel less alone in the world.
I grew up in the 80s so, there were still social rules about how girls were supposed to act and what they were allowed to like. I was expected to be quiet, respectful, and demure. I was supposed to like pretty things and looking pretty. Boys didn’t want to hang around with me because I was a girl. The girls didn’t like me because I was too rough and I didn’t want to braid anybody’s hair. To top it all off, I loved Star Wars toys and Weird Al Yankovic! It’s all I wanted in my life. I was screwed!
Long story short; I learned to protect myself by not letting anybody know the real me and pretending I didn’t care what anybody thought. I had very few friends and for the most part I didn’t trust anybody who claimed they wanted to be my friend. I started drinking when I was 12 and I even tried smoking, although it didn’t take. I was on the outside but to be honest, I didn’t think being on the inside looked any better.
The Nerdychicken Finds a Home
When I was 14, things started to change for me. I was introduced to Dungeons & Dragons. I was instantly mesmerized. The people I played with that first time became my life-long friends and I can’t even begin to explain how much better they made my life. They accepted me for me. I could share anything with them and I still can. D&D saved me from going down a very different path from the one I chose. I am grateful every day. I mean, it didn’t completely change my trajectory. I still drank and went through a party phase but I dragged my nerdy friends, kicking and screaming, with me!!! Of course, there were times when I went off with other folks to play baseball and hang out in bars, but I always returned to that loving and welcoming place where I could explore a whole new world of possibilities with my best friends.
Then, life happened; bad relationships and worse choices that were made to make other people happy. I don’t want to get too deeply into it at this point because it is a long troubling story full of gas lighting and emotional abuse, let’s just say that in the end I was in a pretty dark place. I had 2 beautiful children and I still had my best friends but everything felt dull and grey. All of my energy went towards being strong for my children and there was quite literally nothing left beyond that. I had been convinced that I was worthless and not deserving of respect or love. I tried hard to increase my self-worth. This effort even included going to university and racking up unimaginable debt. I felt like I was accomplishing something; like I was capable of so much more than I ever knew; like I had worth, but it all still seemed very hollow. Okay, I can do stuff, but what’s the point? In the middle of all of this turmoil I found something that filled me with hope. Critical Role!!!!
Rebirth of a Chicken
When I started watching the Critical Role gang, I experienced a slow rolling wave of relief wash over me. It washed away years of muck and mire that had buried me. It was like being lost in a pitch black room full of people and things I love and then suddenly a switch was flipped and I could see it all again! Am I alone in this? Does anybody understand what I am talking about? D&D had saved me yet again. They exposed a piece of me I had been hiding away for so long that I had forgotten it was even there. They made me laugh and cry and hope again. I laughed at their folly, I cried for their loss and I felt hope for myself.
Once the light was on I could start exploring the world around me in full colour again. I was able to start looking for my own path, for me, not anybody else. I knew I still had an uphill struggle but I understood that I could not be afraid to put myself out there. I started small by creating D&D characters with more flaws and strange accents; forcing myself to stand out from the crowd. It was very, very difficult for me. I joined Twitter and started talking to people who have become genuine friends. Also on Twitter, I found so many incredibly gifted and kind people connected to the Critter community. I knew I wanted to be part of it. As I followed more and more of the artists, I could see that they themselves were struggling with the same anxiety and depression that had plagued me for years. They were burning themselves out and quite often for consumers who did not appreciate the blood, sweat and tears it takes to be a master of their craft. I knew I wanted to make life better for these talented, incredibly dedicated and hardworking people.
Making The World Safe for Nerdy Makers
Enter Nerdychicken! I decided that since there is no platform out there that curates the amazing works of the gaming community that I would create one. There needs to be a place where nerds like me can go to find any nerdy thing they want and where artists are protected from abusive consumers, and victimizing selling platforms. I have a genuine appreciation and affection for my artists and I hope that comes through when I speak about them. I would never ever do anything to hurt them and I will strive to do anything I can to help them reach their goals.
So, there you have it; me in a nutshell. It’s going to take a while to roll out all the ideas Doug and I have planned for the site but I am not stopping until we make it what it’s supposed to be.
I am alive and I am so excited to keep moving forward with my life. I am happy to be me and I know I can be whoever and whatever I truly am inside. Being able to look back on my life and understand the feelings and thoughts of the past a little better may also come in handy. I don’t just want to provide a place to sell things; I am hoping people will come to me if they need a shoulder and some understanding. This is going to be a family. My family. I can’t wait.
Nikki (Nerdychicken) Ewart