I don’t think of myself as a leader. I don’t think of myself as holding any position of authority, for the most part. I post articles online. I think of myself as mostly a writer. I open and help admin groups on Facebook. I haven’t had any experience lately teaching in-person workshops….but, I do still help run bi-annual community events.
I wouldn’t say I was any sort of leader. If I were hard-pressed to describe what I do, I would say that I am more of a consultant of sorts, a facilitator at most. That being said, I do know quite a few leaders in the VC/OVC. I am not referring to the members who run groups (online or offline) or even teachers. It takes very little to declare that one is opening an online group or forum….or an in-person House. It also doesn’t take much to run a workshop or series of classes. I’ve watched many people do both and they are still certainly not “leaders”.
In terms of the Community, what is anyone “leading” us to….or “leading” us away from? There are many members who are not in any position of authority (or less so, when compared to the more vocal members of the VC), who are fantastic role models, and sources of inspiration and information. They are leading us out of ignorance and the mass chaos of our in-fighting….and leading us towards personal enlightenment, an open access of necessary practical information and more peaceful interaction between members of the various Vampire subgroups. These Leaders may or may not also head online or offline groups. (We could use the terms “Elder” or “Teacher” interchangeably when we address or refer to these figures.)
There are some very sincere members of the VC, who want to be helpful and make a better world (as they interpret the concept) for other Vampires. The glitch in this plan is that, being as we work with our various personalities, we have as many interpretations for this vision as we have these helpful Vampires. That makes it complicated enough. Add to this mix, all of the VC members who have their own personal agendas to push. Regardless of the types of Vampirism, we have the mix of personalities in the Community….those who are team players have a variety of teams to play on–sometimes the vision of one Leader doesn’t translate over into every other group and subgroup in the Community. There are also those members who simply enjoy being abrasive or love the chaos of being negative and non-cooperative. There are also the very passive members who lurk and do not participate in our group settings, but increase the group count by simply being members. Even the best-intentioned Leader can get burned out by the adversity or the seeming apathy of the numbers that just do not give any feedback. It is human to want some sort of positive feedback. Some of us need recognition, encouragement or at least some response to know if we are moving in the right direction.
Most encouragement seems to be drowned out by the amount of criticism that comes from the oppositional voices in the VC. Most of the time, Leaders have to hear EVERYTHING….complaints, criticism, whining, constant questions….it is not an easy job for someone trying to contribute positively to the VC. Often, the only payment anyone receives is knowing that they tried to do the right thing (according to their own conscience), that they were being as helpful as they could be to their fellow members.
Being a Leader is an act of Charity. There is no monetary compensation. As a matter of fact, offline expenses of running events and online expenses (such as, paying for websites) will more than likely come directly out of the Leader’s pocket. Much time that could be spent on other pursuits (such as reading and working on their own writing projects) is put into handling squabbles between members or guiding new members through the same questions that every newcomer seems to come up against. There is often verbal abuse from their “peers” or elder members because they are not handling matters (of any and all sorts) in a way that the critiquing party finds acceptable. “Thankless job” seems to apply, here.
Many “Vampire Kings” and “Vampire Queens”….whether or not they actually use the title….are interested in having numbers on paper–a sizable or growing group count. But, what are they really contributing? No one is required to accomplish anything on a large scale. Sometimes, the most effective way of looking at the VC is that each one of us could try to make our spaces/group spaces to hold as many of those “helpful moments” for the individual member, as often as we can. Not that we will ever have a perfect, drama-free environment. But, that we can have as many good moments, with as many good personal interactions as we possibly can….on a daily basis. And, we can just count those good moments, in spite of all the drama we had to put up with, to make them.