So there I was, raidless at 4/8 heroic, not knowing where to turn next...
I've always had the secret desire to apply to a hard-core raid guild, just- to see if I could do it. To see if I could get through the application process, and to prove myself, to finally, 'for realsies' step past my humble beginnings and raid with the kind of intensity I'd read about.
At the risk of sounding arrogant, I would say that I have almost always been one of the best researched, most on-paper precise raiders in any given raid team. I won't say I was the best player, because I have my moments of fire-standing mouth-breathing pants-on-head 'hurrrrrrr'; but I've always been one of the better players, with a few exceptions, and at times I have been the best, or close to.
And as much of a reputation as I have managed to build among my clique of rp friends, or at least those who have any interest in PVE- it's still a small, limited pond. I take a great deal of pride in how well I perform, and maybe I'm respected in my own social circles, but I want more than that- and after a week of PuGging on all my healers, I finally took a deep breath and decided to pursue it.
What I Was Looking For
It's one thing to be invited to a hard core raid guild on the whim of a friend; as much fun as I had, and as much as I appreciated the opportunity to learn and improve, I never felt like I'd really earned my place. I wasn't happy to have been carried, it isn't something I really feel I can take a lot of pride in... and while I became an asset to the team, I wasn't there when they were pouring sweat, blood, and tears into their progression. I felt like I was just a tag-along.
I guess feeling like a part of the team is important to me. It's one thing I got from my ten-man group that I sorely missed after it disbanded; as often as they drove me nuts, I knew where I stood, I knew I was an asset, and I knew I would work hard- and so would they. At times, I wished they were a little more dedicated, a little less emotional; but even with the problems, it was still some of the most fun I've had raiding, because we had to fight tooth and nail for each kill.
So it wasn't just that I was only 4/8 that led me to wanting to find a guild that hadn't downed heroic Deathwing yet; and it wasn't a lack of friends in the raiding community that led me to apping to a group of strangers.
I wanted what I had, but refined. I wanted people who also researched, the way I did. I wanted to be in a group that wasn't going to give up, that was serious about being on time, and- very importantly- that wasn't ragey, that didn't get increasingly angry and morose wipe after wipe. I wanted a group that saw the way I did. I wanted a bench so that if I missed a day, the raid would go on; so that sometimes, I would be on standby.
The Application Process
I applied to Apotheosis, because they needed a restoration shaman, because their raid times were similar to my previous one, and because two of their healers were bloggers I'd been reading for years as reference material. I didn't know if I'd get in, but I felt I had a good chance.
It took me hours to perfect my application; yes, hours. It's just a game, right? Why would I do that?
Because I wanted it. I wanted it so badly, and I felt that my application would be the first impression they had of me. I'd day-dreamed of applying to a 'big' guild before and my strongest asset as a player without the same level of experience, was my ability to demonstrate my understanding on paper. I had references for raiding ready to go, if they asked. I wanted it to be hard. I wanted to be scrutinized, to be questioned in a way that none of my previous raid leaders had questioned me. I wanted to have to prove myself, to have to fight for a position.
And they did question me. They wanted to know why I'd specced the way I had, why I'd reforged the way I had- and I had never been scrutinized like that before, not by any raid leader! Just by apping, I stepped up my game by realizing a different meta gem brought better bonuses for me at my current gear level. A small thing- and something no one else I'd ever raided with would have even thought to question!
Every time someone replied to my application, I would feel a jolt of excitement- primarily because I am a dork, but also because they were really, seriously thinking about letting me in.
If I could repeat the process, I would try to be less neurotic about it. I made mistakes in being too quick to jump to conclusions; when asked about my casting set-up, I went into a palpable emo-fit over being a keyboard turner and let them if they wanted to turn me down for it, I understood and it was okay. I don't know what they may have thought about that, but I facepalm looking back. I should have been more confident, and not quite so quick to decide I was unworthy for them; that sort of behaviour stinks of being obsequious, having low-self esteem, and is irritating besides.
The things I feel I did correctly were having a well-written application, and making sure I had ALL the information- before I apped, I took the time to go run both halves of an LFR and post the data. I notice a lot of applicants who don't have World of Logs information ready, and this just seems lazy; I didn't have data from progression runs, but at least I had something, which is what they were asking for. I made sure I'd read all their expectations and that I was going to meet them without having to modify my gemming or enchanting- with the exception of a run-speed enchant on my boots, which I waited to be accepted to change; if I didn't get in to Apotheosis, I was not going to bother with run-speed.
I also made sure to ask a lot of questions. A lot of folks don't seem to realize that an interview process goes both ways- I wanted to make sure Apotheosis was really what I thought it was going to be. If there were things I didn't like, I wanted to know BEFORE I transferred, so that I could weigh the benefits to the negatives and make sure my decision was well-informed.
I quietly prepared my shaman for a server transfer, but also looked in to other guilds that fit my desires. If Apotheosis didn't take me, I wasn't going to give up- I had several back ups that I was waiting to apply to, should Apotheosis decline me.
However, they didn't decline me. In spite of my slightly neurotic fit about being a key-board turner, and in spite of the fact that I didn't have the experience I would have assumed they'd want, my application was accepted and I was invited to transfer over and receive a guild invite under the ranking of 'Trial'!