Coming back to the place of my childhood for christmas is a double-edged sword. Of course, I meet the family I love, but I am also reminded of a not so fortunate childhood, that I am sure many of you could relate to.
Ever since then it was my goal to build a community of tolerance, where everyone with every different perspective can find a place to be himself in all their perfection and imperfection.
I know how it is to join a community – in this case a company – and feel lost and alone in the beginning. Everyone else is already a(c)quainted and most likely already in a friendly relationship with each other. It was not different for me back when I joined the company 2 years ago, even though Laila, Aqua and Ejimso welcomed me with open arms. There is always a small amount of reservedness and shyness within everyone of us.
So it became my goal to also shape this community into a sanctuary for people that are outcast, based on their interests, their personality, their physiology. In the end this is a japanese video game with cat and bunny people and I know what interests are usually aligned with this common denominator that we share, so being ostracized based on these is a high probability.
All the people I interviewed for this company can attest that I ask some super weird questions. Casual Wednesdays tend to be a a Lovecraft-esque place of absurd discussions. All for the goal to break that reservedness, that shyness that I mentioned earlier, by showing that I am a weird person.
Showing that we are weird people.
Showing that it is ok to be a weird person.
That you found a sanctuary that Laila created to always feel welcome. There’s the gundam-obsessed not-frenchman. The cosplaying anime connoisseur. The 4 degenerates who turn every event they attend into an 18+ extravaganza. The girl who forges shanks in her backyard. The Dungeons and Dragons enthusiast with the best dice-related memes.
Sleeping Dragons is a good place to be weird. Here you can be who you are or who you want to be.
This is why I proposed the concept of Casual Wednesdays to Laila ages ago and why I try to motivate each new member to join us on these occasions: A time for everyone to be themselves only connected by the common interest that we share, doing the most simplest, most casual activities, so that we can all join in together. It became a place where people could bring their passions and interests, showing that we are all weird in our own ways. Finding people that are just as strange as we are ourselves and understanding that we should never be ashamed of what we like, what we love or who we are.
In the end all our personalities are just like different colors and it is our collaborative effort to create an amazing picture with each of them. Every color enriching the picture that is our company in their own way, adding a shade, a variety that was missing before.
I once said to a (now) senior member of the company, who later stepped up, when I stepped down: “Look to your left. Look to your right. Everyone is weird”.
Do not be afraid of how you will be perceived by others in this company. Show your color and make it the brightest there is.
If you haven’t noticed yet there is a reason I chose this title for this story. When I think of our (newly designed) company house I see this church from Final Fantasy VII, with the flowers blooming inside, surrounded by this gloomy dystopian cityscape of Midgard.
A sanctuary for all the outcast.
A family for all those alone.
A burning fire for all those flickering lights.
Embrace this and remain vigilant so it always will be.