One of the Most Dangerous Words

This week I have been falling down a rabbit hole.

As any who read the Woodland Watch last week knows, I was contacted by people outside the group inquiring about us. I gave my two-cents and many of you did also. I love hearing about how we all perceive the group and what it means to us. Terrasylvae really is much more than the things we do. It’s a little of who were are and who we hope to be. It’s our family.

This got me thinking about how I fit into this Terrasylvan family. I’ve been a member since 2008 when the first thing I did as a new sophomore in high school was to hunt down the fencing group I’d heard about. I’ve had the opportunity to see the group grow for over 10 years now, serve as an officer, and for the past four years serve as Captain of the Order of the Rose. It has been a fond decade, but because this is a rabbit hole I found my way back to something Damian has shared with me multiple times over the past ten years.

The group doesn’t need you.


Now before you gasp with disbelief and ask yourself, “How could Damian say such a thing!?”, know that I’m being overly dramatic. I’ve quoted Damian without giving any context. In actuality, Damian taught me one of the most important lessons I’ve learned while serving as Captain with that little phrase.

At the beginning on my Captaincy, I was pretty intense about it. It really meant a lot to me and I was trying to light a fire under the group in hopes of building up momentum. This came out in an intensity and seriousness that may not have been the most compatible with the group. There were so many things that I felt the group needed to do and it bothered me to my core when the group didn’t respond the way I thought they should. I’d leave practice frustrated, angry, and upset because things that needed doing, weren’t done and no one seemed to care.

One day, as I was venting these frustrations to Damian, he sat me down and reminded me of a truth about Terrasylvae that I hadn’t understood before.

The group doesn’t need you. It doesn’t need me. Terrasylvae doesn’t need anyone or anything to survive.


He went on to explain that there are things we want from the group and what the group wants, but those aren’t what the group needs. Everything that I was frustrated about were things I wanted. I wanted to see the group grow and progress. I wanted to build momentum. I wanted a lot for the group, but when things didn’t go the way I wanted, I’d get upset.

He helped me realize that the group doesn’t need the website, Facebook, Trello, lessons, manuals, efficient practices, events, gear, money, guilds, or specific members. All those things, and so many other things, are nice to have and may be things the group wants, but they aren’t necessary.  The only thing Terrasylvae needs is a group of friends.

Because of what Damian shared with me I have learned that the word “Need” is one of the most dangerous words, especially for a Captain. If we are not careful with it’s use, we can very quickly confuse “Wants” with “Needs”. This creates a world of black & white with little room for understanding, compassion, patience, and perspective that can quickly build a molehill into a mountain.