My name is Gabrielle Jensen, though I go by the name of ‘Alquarien’ through my work.
Why the name Alquarien? Well! I developed it through a -little- game called, World of Warcraft, which actually served as my crippling addiction for 11 years, so it’s bittersweet to keep the name alive, I suppose. Anyway, it was my Night Elf Priest’s name, and it just stuck.
Any-who, this is me, Gabrielle, though most of my closer friends call me ‘Goobi’. The nickname developed from ‘cool memes’ and regretfully stuck all the way through to maturity. Now I am forever cursed among my fondest companions.
I was born in Yorkshire, England, and still actually hold my British accent even though I traveled around a lot. I spent a grand total of perhaps a year or two in England itself which typically surprises people. I spent most of my life actually living on a little island within the Middle East known as, Bahrain.
Bahrain is and was a very calm and quiet place. Up until recently, the hot-spot (ironically) was an ice-skating rink on the very edge of the country. I didn’t get out much, and I didn’t make many friends either. I was practically trapped on my computer.
The only way to make friends in the quiet little island, was to really push oneself into immense extrovert demeanor. Being that I was one of the longest-remaining denizens of Bahrain for my age, I had to watch a lot of people leave or be re-assigned to other countries. Making friends was hard, and I couldn’t keep them for more than 2-3 years.
Sadly, one of the first times I actually pushed out to make a friend, they turned into my worst nightmare. From the age of 11 all the way until about 15, I was bullied to a horrific extent for not only being introverted, but also for being half-American. The bullying got to such a terrible point, that I had to be escorted to my classes by a school security guard. It was then that I realized sitting behind my desk was my safest option.
My dad was quite the gamer, introduced to various games by his coworker. I used to play with my dog on the carpet behind his desk while watching the screen flicker with various intriguing activities.
There was one game that stood out among others though. World of Warcraft- The bane of many introverts. At first, it was just an experiment; I was only 9 at the time, I couldn’t play it properly at all. My dad used to let me fish on his character in exchange for pocket money in the real world. A fantastic deal, to be honest.
While dad was at work, I would be ringing him up at a constant with various questions like- “What do I do in the second quest?”, or, “How do I invite people to my group?”. Although it really annoyed my dad, I know for a fact that he was somewhat glad I was safe at home instead of out with a ‘bad crowd’.
Playing Warcraft continued, and literally never stopped. I missed loads of opportunities to make new friends. I missed loads of events. I missed real life happiness. My first meaningful and physical relationship didn’t start until I was twenty.
Art and Literature
One thing that really helped my through my struggles with introvert life, was certainly art and writing. As soon as I got into Warcraft, I also got into role-playing and story writing.
There was something about creating an online persona to interact with people that felt so right. It felt as if I could live a whole new life in this fantasy world. Don’t get me wrong, my family gave me a fantastic life. I wish I could go back to show them how much I appreciated what they provided for me. What I mostly wanted though, was self confidence. It’s one thing being given all the tools to create a great life for yourself, but it’s another thing trying to form the confidence and motivation to actually use them.
I role-played from lunch to dinner, then from dinner all the way until breakfast the next day. I refused to sleep, I was so addicted to talking to people all over the world and forming this long-distanced social life that felt so real to me in every way, shape, and form. One thing I kept from that experience all the way until now is horrific, black bags under my eyes. No make up in the world can reverse those! (But if you know a way, do let me know.)
My parents didn’t appear to like what I was doing, but we always relied on the motive- ‘at least she isn’t doing drugs or hanging out with bad people’. Heck, my dad even agreed to pay for my subscription if I agreed not to do stupid things to my body. It was a fair trade. Essentially, I was a perfect child other than the fact I was lifeless. I was obedient, I had good grades, I was healthy, safe, smart, I appeared happy… but one thing I always kept to myself was that I wasn’t happy with myself. I felt regret.
Art and literature was my way of feeling self-appreciation. There were days when I would wallow around in self-pity, and then suddenly produce a piece of art. The likes and comments I received from my creations was almost intoxicating. Knowing that people appreciated me, when I barely appreciated myself, was too good to be true. I developed, and developed, and developed, until I could sell my work- which gave me immense happiness.
Building my confidence wasn’t such an easy thing to do. Even when I moved to America a few years ago, I didn’t feel all too great about myself. At first I believed ‘a new country, a new start’, but that wasn’t the case at all. High School was a total disaster. Although I did make a friend or three, that I believe I will never lose, I felt like I was almost reliving my younger days.
Basically, I was segregated for having a British accent. People were fascinated by me, but that was it. I always got the typical- “Ooh, say this!”, “Do you watch Doctor Who?”, “Do you like tea?”… and that was it. There was no relationship-building… no in-depth learning of who I am. I was British, and that was who I was… not Gabby… I was British.
College wasn’t all too different, but you’re not really given much opportunity to make friends there. Classes were short; you weren’t allowed to talk. There were a few times where I thought I could push myself to make friends, but it ultimately just made me more anxious.
Slowly, I started to creep into online classes, trying to stop physical classes altogether to avoid the nervousness that came from interacting with other people… it had to stop.
Community Involvement. That was the class I took in the spring of 2016 at the age of 20. It was one of the classes which seemed like it was just going to be an easy A for doing minimal work… boy was I wrong. Little did I know, that class was about to change my life.
I was a nervous wreck, clutching to my phone for dear life. Honestly, I treated that device like an oxygen tank. Whilst appearing all tensed up, someone actually spoke out to me. I looked up to see a man around my age sat down by the side of the classroom, waiting for it to open. I was so caught up in my phone and blocking out the outside world that I didn’t hear what he said.
I pulled out an awkward face from my plethora of ‘faces to make when you don’t really understand how to be a Human being like everyone else’. He smiled and repeated what he said. He was asking for the time of the class, which I replied to appropriately. I thought that was it- but then he asked another question! He asked why I was taking the class.
My sweat was sweating, and I was trying my best not to look at my phone as a safe haven. I replied with something typical like “seems like an easy class, you?” The way he spoke told me that he was a confident person, and it radiated over me like fresh sunshine! (Something I am having to take in vitamin D pill-form due to never going outside.. ha.) He was elaborate, and certainly knew what he was talking about.
I gotta stick to this person like glue somehow, I wanted to learn how to talk like that to a complete stranger. Sadly as we sat down, I pulled out my phone and dove into the internet to recover from the heart-attack I was about to have due to conversing with someone I didn’t know.
The whole class-period, all I could think about was different way to chat to this person after class. Would it be weird to say “Hello” a second time? Would he find me annoying if I started chatting to him out of random? Maybe he only spoke to me earlier because he was bored- or thought I might have been a chatty person. These are the kinds of dilemmas introverts are faced with… what do you say!?
At some point in the class period a volunteering opportunity plopped up. The Brevard Renaissance Fair, (Faire, it feels so weird typing American-English). Like a torpedo, I launched at the guy who spoke to me before class and asked him if he would like to cooperate with me at the Fair. To my delight, he agreed! (I even got his number!). He walked me alllll the way to my car- well, we parked next to each other sorta- (It was fate!)
As soon as I came home, I told my mother that I actually reached out to someone, and the only thing she could tell me (other than how proud she was of me) was- DO NOT TALK ABOUT WARCRAFT.
The weeks went by, and I really put myself out there with the Renaissance jobs. I ended up doing over 150 hours in two weeks (which I will blog about in different posts). As my friendship with this new person and volunteer group grew, as did my self-confidence and appreciation.
It’s almost baffling to think that if I didn’t ‘torpedo’ out to that guy on the very first day of meeting him, I might not be as happy as I am right now. Heck, I might have even quit the Community Involvement class altogether due to lack of self-confidence. He was shocked to find out I had never had an actual physical boyfriend before, and was humbled to be my first. It was incredibly good karma/fate/destiny/luck that I managed to reach out to a genuinely good person straight off the bat.
Journalism and Blogging
At first I wanted to be a Video Game designer, due to my addiction to Warcraft. But slowly over the Spring term of 2016, I realized that was a silly reason. It gave me a lot of anxiety to think about designing games, because it wasn’t really my passion. I liked to play games, but I didn’t have the mental capacity to go through programming and design classes in order to pull it off.
The military became an option for a while. The air-force in particular. My new friends and family talked it up quite a lot. It seemed like a great place to go in order to acquire life-long skills and confidence. Besides, I was failing math and getting my masters in Game Design was looking as good as roadkill in a ditch on a dreary day.
Then it hit me… I like to write…. I’ve been writing since I was able to use a keyboard… what could I possibly do to turn my interests into a career? Journalism.
From that moment forward, I have been aspiring to do the very best I can to try and make Journalism my career. From writing reports, to advertising, to writing short stories. I will do whatever it takes to feel accomplished.
With this new-found confidence, I am looking forward to my journey ahead.