Closing the Smash chapter.
I’ve experienced so much learning and love in Smash. I’ve grown as a commentator, player, researcher, organizer, and human. I’ve made international friends and had unforgettable experiences.
As I begin my post-doctoral job search, I have to consider my life and career direction. I don’t know that I will have room to do justice organizing or consistent travel in Smash as I had been doing in 2018-2019.
I’ve experienced a lot of challenges here. Some were necessary lessons to learn: 1) With a big enough audience, someone will disagree with you (even hatefully or violently) but you can cope and keep going. Similarly, you can take any tone and be criticized - vulnerability or honest emotion do not guarantee sympathy and logical detachment does not inspire trust - so you may as well say things in the way that you mean. 2) When you’re experiencing a powerful emotion, it’s always better to sit on the thought and wait to say it right rather than reacting and escalating. 3) You can try your best and the time, circumstances, etc outside of your control mean you will not achieve a goal. Still, after mourning that fact, it’s ultimately more productive to reflect on your actions rather than cast blame.
These are some painful but absolutely necessary life lessons for growing as a human and as a leader. I am grateful that I was given the position and the public platform to learn them.
I have also faced challenges that were unproductive and unfair. Reading and managing my anxiety from threats and doxing. Sexism both blatant and subtle. Lawsuit threats and invasive contact when asking people to be accountable.
I never expected that taking meeting minutes for a group of superstar Smashers would lead to feeling responsible for the safety of an entire scene - and people treating me as responsible for it; to hundred-retweet accusations against me, involvement in lawsuits, and at least one shitty right wing Youtuber who likes to call me too emotional to lead; to desperate phone calls from minor celebrities pleading for their friends who got called out or for themselves.
I also never expected from Smash the joy/relief of an inbox full of support. I never knew I could inspire others to speak. I never thought anyone would care about the complex moral thoughts I’ve struggled with. I never imagined I would be trusted with some of peoples’ darkest and most vulnerable moments, and sometimes I would be able to do something to help them through it.
I’m not going to deactivate or disappear. I still want to use my voice to fight for what’s right. I still want to hear about my Smash friends’ lives, and the newest patch notes, and the awesome Melee stats being done. I just need to let go of the idea that I will find a future in Smash that is both true to my values (justice, emotional honesty) and healthy/sustainable for me. I need to accept that I can accomplish more (and more safely) by researching, teaching, and mentorship.
Keep up the grind friends.
Kyle / Piggy