Cup Loyalty: Some Feelings About Switching Sides
Sign-ups for this season’s Altador Cup have begun, and with that comes hundreds of thousands of Neopians filled with one of two feelings: a strong conviction that the team they’ve always stuck by is about to have their day in the sun (Altador pun intended), or the unease of realizing they haven’t quite settled on a team yet. But wait!--What if there’s a third feeling? Yes, a horrible, confusing third feeling, followed by a fourth, fifth, and even sixth feeling? What if that feeling is telling you to switch allegiances after years of dutiful rooting-on and color-coordinating? What then?
Anguish no more, Neopians! (I’ve done plenty of that for all of us, trust me.) For your benefit, I decided to write down all the feelings I’ve had about turning my back on Shenkuu, a team I’ve so loyally backed for 8 years, to join the Lost Desert. Why did I do this? A form of catharsis, mainly, but also so you could take my suffering and know that you’re not alone/doing better than me/more well-adjusted in general than I am/whatever it is you get out of this!
Many threads have already been posted to the Altador Cup boards asking for help choosing a team. (To be clear, this article will have nothing to do with helping you do that, and any advice you take away from this is entirely up to interpretation, but you’re welcome just the same.) As I looked on these kinds of threads, I realized I envied them all. To not know what I wanted seemed better to me than the gut-wrenching thought that I might actually decide to wear another team’s colors for ACXI. I’m an incredibly loyal person, and to trade in my “#1 Shenkuu Fan” badge now seemed a little pointless. After all, it’s scary to leave something so familiar behind and strike out on your own! Still, after 8 years, I felt I’d earned my right to switch it up. Here’s a quick list of all the thoughts and sentiments I experienced while making this ridiculously difficult decision:
1. What if this is the year they finally get on the podium? What if they win?
2. What if my new team places below them? Would I ever be able to stop kicking myself?
3. If I practice kicking myself now, will it make me better at Yooyuball later?
4. How do I know which team I should go with instead? Wouldn’t it be easier to just stick with what I know?
5. What if the fans of my new team aren’t welcoming?
6. What if all the Shenkuu supporters hate me?
7. What if I hate me?
8. What if my new team’s colors clash with my skintone?
9. Will I get invited to pregame parties, and what could I possibly contribute to the conversation if I haven’t been following that team?
10. Would I be expected to bring the salsa?
I feel like it’s worth mentioning that all these thoughts occurred in a span of about 15 seconds. As you can see, these thoughts also rather quickly devolved into more trivial concerns. So, what does that mean for myself? Does that mean I have almost nothing real to worry about when it comes to my alliance? Am I keeping myself awake, twitchy and hopelessly pumped full of borovan, for no reason? Should I consult the boards about this? A doctor, maybe? Could i convince a doctor to pick my team for me, putting an end to the tics and the maddening indecision? In lieu of inviting anyone to join me in my spiral, I decided to decompress, take myself away from all the Cup hype.
After indulging in a lot of free time spent thinking about everything I possibly could besides the Cup (and a whole lot of ice cream, for comfort purposes), I felt like my head was clear enough to re-enter the realm of Cup fever. (I’ll come back one day with a ranking on which flavor was the most comforting, so our taste buds can wallow along with us, sobbing into only the best.) I returned emotionally cleansed, but still undecided, which was a disappointing realization. (We’ll call it disappointment, but what it really was was a near mental breakdown. Again.)
There was still that big decision, looming before me. This was a commitment, I couldn’t just treat it like picking the ice cream flavor I’d eaten the night before! (I took that very seriously as well, for the record.) Whoever I chose, I’d be locked into fighting with them until the very end, no matter what kind of upset they caused in the final standings. I would have to give it all to be the best fan I could be, all for a brand-new team who had given me no reason to give my heart to it yet.
So how did I decide on Lost Desert? How did I finally break down and, at the last minute during the first day of sign-ups, add my name for them instead of Shenkuu? Well, if you’ve been reading this article and not skimming, you know that decision wasn’t easy. The two teams are on friendly terms, so it’s not as though there were a bitter rivalry for me to worry about, a major plus. (Could you imagine what this article would have been like?!) Their colors definitely flatter my skin tone, and the rest of my wardrobe for that matter, another big plus. Most importantly, the team seemed strong and consistent, with a loyal and friendly fanbase. Just like that, all my worries about sitting with a different crowd in the stands were gone. I followed my gut, and I signed up with the Lost Desert.
How have things been for me since? Why did I make the decision to sign up on the first day, instead of waiting it out for as long as possible, if I was so torn? I knew that the longer I waited, the more agonizing it would be, so I dove right in. Since making my choice, I’ve felt surprisingly calm. Only once, a few seconds after walking away from the booth, did I feel a brief pang of regret. I couldn’t change my mind, so I processed that pang and went straight to the boards to socialize with my new peers. It felt odd, embracing the fans of this new team so quickly, especially since I’d never been very chatty with the Shenkuu side. Still, I didn’t look back, and I haven’t regretted my decision.
Let’s go, LD!
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