Welcome to robotics. It’s hard. As a certain other league would put it, it’s the hardest fun you’ll ever have. And I’ve had that hit me over the head repeatedly.
So, yeah. It’s tough. And I’ve kinda been there. (But we all have slightly different experiences.):
I am a pretty new organization. We just barely started as MS teams in ITZ, and failed miserably. Then in TP, we did slightly better, but still overall failed miserably. But my personal failures felt very different.
I reached out to here early in TP. I started by just reading everything until I got some sort of an idea as to what I was doing, then I finally made an account and started helping others.
From there, I kind of got a reputation as that guy who thinks he knows a lot but actually sucks. And it was (and still is) very true. A lot of my knowledge is theoretical. I come off as if I think I know what I’m doing, but, as a quick glance at my Vexdb page would show, I actually suck. Badly.
But I’m still standing. From the beginning, I’ve been very central to our (new) organization. It started as just being the guy with all the crazy ideas (where my name came from, in junction with my bad robots) who people might come to for quick fixes and help. I thought I knew enough. But I knew nothing. (But, then again, quantity of knowledge is relative and very subjective.)
So, I was just our organization flagship student. We won a Teamowrk award at our first competition with what I like to think was because of my influences on each and every member of our (small) organization. But, I kinda now see that it was a pity award. But it’s still our most prized piece in our trophy cabinet. (Partially because it’s the only one there so far.) And it’s our most prized because we did that. (Though it was awarded to our A team, who I let have the letter while I took B, which just had more character to it in my opinion. But I still like to think that I did most of the work to achieve it. Even though it’s a teamwork trophy. You get what I’m saying.)
Later, I came to realize that I needed to just know more to be competitive. In TP, I read absolutely everything I could find. Whether or not I understood it completely. I taught myself the logic behind PID, coding concepts, build concepts, all kinds of stuff. I just built up my theoretical knowledge.
But I still couldn’t win anything. sometimes I blamed it on bad luck. Most of the time it was my bad driving or abysmal build quality.
But I was still central to our organization. Although at this time it was growing, and I had much less connections with the new MS teams, though I do like to think I made myself useful during competitions or whatever events we had together.
Through both of these seasons, I was effectively a one-man team. It was just that nobody could match up to what I could do, so I did it effectively alone. I get into these parts a lot in those other threads, so I’ll (reluctantly) omit much of that here.
I did go a little crazy over the years. So much was on me. I knew more (about Vex) than anybody else closeby (including my mentor). And that’s not just me feeding into a team-name stereotype persona. (The team name persona was based off of me, and I like to think that it’s growing with me.)
This season/moving forward
Already, I’ve helped (one might argue carried) a sister team to Finals in our first (and so far only) event. I could do that both with the help of my outreach (which allowed the SCA to come into being, which is always a huge help to its members, including the founders), as well as my determination (one could argue stubbornness).
But I don’t intend to just stop here, and say that I’ve done enough. I’m not quite done yet. While event judges don’t really recognize all that I do (or don’t appreciate it because it goes counter to the teamwork philosophy they’ve all had implanted into their brains for award rubrics), I’m still here doing it.
I’ve been recognized a total of one (arguably 2-3, but I don’t really count those in this category) time for my contributions here. It’s kind of how I feel towards judges who might just not know what it is I do and how much time I put in, but that’s not on them, and those who do win these awards do deserve them.
But I don’t strive for recognition (though that would be nice, people!), I instead strive for legacy. For improving what I found, be it in my local school team or a wider community.
Unfortunately, I do think that this will be my final go-round. Not because I graduated or gave up, but because I just have to move on. In my wake, I do hope to leave my organization better equipped to function without me.
Though I’ll be gone, I do hope that what I do is felt. That I don’t just vanish as another wanna-be, non-competitive team who is just pretentious and thinks he knows more than he does.
In particular, I tried to build up a small network to be my on-site team so I can still compete, even though I’m gone. But I don’t see that holding up. Instead, I’m hoping to give valuable experience to others that they can pass on to their teams, and which will hopefully grow and create a prosperous orgnianization, long after I’m personally gone.
So, I don’t have myself a strong 8059 organization with the self-structure and internal support necessary to have manny competitive teams. I don’t have a 929 level of build training for younger members.
No, I’m on my own. But it is great to have progressed far enough that I have help in this.
I’ll stop rambling (pm me if you want more information, I’m just trying to save the time of others). I just want to leave you all with one thing:
We do not do these things (Vex, robotics, anything) because they are easy, but rather because they are hard. We don’t give up because something is difficult. This is a jungle of obstacles to overcome, and (while robotics is enjoyable) it’s not all fun and games.
Others may have their paths cleared before them. The powerhouses in your region, for example, have most likely been long-established organizations who started similarly to how you or I did. They have paved paths and lightly wooded areas. We have a jungle. But don’t flee becasue it’s difficult.
No, embrace it. Allow yourself to Build what you stand for.
Welcome… to your jungle.