Thank you for everything

At 24 years old, I’ve had access to the internet for most of my life. I think we got our first computer when I was around 8 or 9 and I wasted no time lying about my age and talking at length about how awesome Zelda was in AOL chatrooms. Having had so much exposure to online communities, a universal truth began to form: for the most part, people are pretty shitty when they can hide behind a screen. There were always exceptions to the rule, but I think most people would agree on this.

So I guess it’s only appropriate that the game surrounded in an almost mystical air of ‘special’ would in turn lead to a community with that same quality. I’ve written about this before, but finding this website was a strange bit of luck mixed with vanity. And as many others have already said, and I’m sure many more will continue to say, it has changed my life in profound ways. It’s rare to be so quickly welcomed into an established community. To get greeted as though you’re an old friend, not a stranger that needs to prove something. I can still remember a good portion of my experience on my first day here. It was that special, I had to carve it into my memory.

That might be one of my favorite parts, actually. Seeing how surprised new members are when they first join. Sometimes you can almost picture them sitting there with narrowed eyes, suspicious of how friendly the atmosphere is. And there’s always a few day period where you can sort of tell they’re waiting for the other shoe to drop, until they finally realize that it’s not going to. This place just really is that nice.

I’ve mentioned this before, but this website and I suppose going even further back to the game itself, is the most visible and vibrant example of the butterfly effect I can notice within my life. There is a very clear sequence of ‘and then, and then, and then…’ that is pretty remarkable. Maybe it says something that I have a genuine fear of time withering away from me, yet the last six months or so have felt alive and full of moments, memories and people I wouldn’t trade for the world. Whether it be socially, creatively or introspectively, I’ve grown more rapidly since joining than I may have in years before that. In some ways, that’s been uncomfortable and difficult, but it’s never been anything less than necessary for my soul.

None of this would be possible of course if it weren’t for the amazing people here. I tend to speak in positive hyperbole often, using words like ‘amazing’ or ‘incredible’ to describe things like not tripping as I walk out the front door, but I do want to make it clear that when I use these words to describe the people here, I mean them at their brightest intention. I’ve already talked about how welcoming everyone is, but that’s just the surface of it. The length that people go to in order to help each other is something that genuinely warms my heart. It’s not easy to talk about half the shit we talk about on this website, and the fact that people not only feel safe enough to share, but also receive love and support in return is nothing short of miraculous. Not only can you shit talk about a new game or movie, but you can be honest about your troubles and victories. It can’t be overstated how important this is.

And then of course, there is the creative portion of the site. I have yet to enter a competition, and I’m not entirely sure I ever will, but I get incredibly excited for them. It’s a bit like Christmas morning for someone like me, getting to see the photos, songs, drawings, writings and cosplays that are created. It really is almost like a factory. I love seeing people being brave and sharing their talents, since I know how hard that can be.

I’m already cringing at how much I’ve written and realizing I’m not sure I can really do my feelings justice. LISF is a home, it is a haven, it is where I found a lot of myself. I have found traces of the good in humanity, reasons not to lose hope in the world around me. I have grown creatively, sharpened my wit, and learned to go easier on myself. I have met people here that I truly can’t imagine not having in my life. The kind of accidental, unexpected love and friendship that could only be explained by the flap of a butterfly wing. Call it fate or destiny or luck if you wish, but LISF and all that comes with it is proof of the concept ‘meant to be.’

Thank you to everyone in this community. You’ll never know how much it all means to me.

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