The Five Stages of Neopets Loss
There is something that most of us find difficult to talk about, but almost every player has experienced:
It's that icky, cold feeling you get when you realise that the Pant Devil has stolen into your inventory and taken something precious. It's the frustration of being out-sniped in the auctions at the last very second for the final stamp you need to complete a page in your album. It is the disappointment in missing that score you need for an avatar by JUST two points again.
This feeling is "loss", and while sometimes it only lasts a second, sometimes it takes a little longer to pass. One of the most important things to remember in times like this is that Neopets loss happens to all of us. I defy any player to say they honestly haven't ever been happily playing one minute to be suddenly disappointed the next by a wrong decision, an accidental click or an unfortunate chance event!
Sometimes these moments can be viewed in a positive light, as they bring (tough?!) lessons. Have you ever bought something and then realised later on that you paid many more neopoints than that item is worth? (Always refresh the shop wizard!). Have you ever regretted not searching for a guide before making a play for a particular avatar? (Don't be afraid to ask for help!). However, as often as not, realising that you have missed out on something no matter what the circumstances are, is just a bit upsetting. Like with most things though, knowing what to expect can help you get through tricky times. So read on to see the five common stages of Neopets loss:
Stage 1. Denial
This can begin the very second you realise that something has happened. You stare in disbelief when, perhaps, you meant to equip some fancy battle item to your Grarrl but fed it by accident ("Yum, thanks!"). "This isn't possible," you might say to yourself. "I cannot be this unlucky!" you might wail in your thoughts. Denial can be as simple as not wanting to refresh your page to see if the unfortunate event is true. Often the hope of not being absolutely, 100% certain for a little while cushions the blow of whatever you are missing out on and this is okay, so long as it doesn't last forever - which it doesn't, because soon comes stage two...
Stage 2. Bargaining
Once you are sure that, let's say, you have indeed clicked the wrong box and traded away your Faerie Queen Doll instead of that Sloth Faerie Plushie, you might try to bargain to make up for the loss. In some instances this might mean asking TNT to give you back the item you lost when Bobbing for Apples, or trying to get another user to let you have a rematch in the Battledome. Bargaining can also be in your head, thinking to yourself, for example: "Maybe if I keep refreshing, it will come back... Depending on the circumstances, you might be able to make a real difference with some determined diplomacy; yet bargaining is often another way to keep the hope that you might be able to find what was lost and if it doesn't work, you may find yourself in stage three...
Stage 3. Annoyance
By this point you know that (let's imagine) the cheapest Feather Tickler you have ever seen has been bought by someone else while you were withdrawing the funds from your bank account and there is no way you will get another that cheaply any time soon. Often this leads to feelings of annoyance that are easily recognised: while sometimes they only exist in your head, "That is annoying," you might think, annoyance often leads to action. You could choose to yell about it to anyone who will listen, you may submit an angry Haiku to the Neopian Times, or you may feel the urge to whack something (I recommend Kass Basher!) in the hopes that this will expel the bad feelings and let you concentrate on other things. If you are lucky, you will be spurred on by this feeling to find something else to do, make some neopoints and the horror of your cute little JubJub being zapped into a Mutant Skeith* (or something like that) will all be a distant memory - there's always paintbrushes!. However, sometimes annoyance isn't the only bad feeling linked with loss, sometimes you might get a bit lost in stage four...
Stage 4. Depression
Feeling like the Wheel of Excitement isn't so exciting after all? Looking as blue as a Discarded Magical Blue Grundo Plushie of Prosperity? Losing out (neopoints on the Stock Market, guessing the wrong Weight of the Marrow, your Neopian Times article has been rejected for being too funny) on anything doesn't feel good and sometimes the effect might be sadness. Thoughts like "Why me? What did I do to deserve this? I must be the unluckiest player in Neopia!" could run through your mind while you think about whether you should even bother having your petpet jump down the Symol Hole 100 times a day any more. Getting out of this slump might feel like climbing Terror Mountain, but while anyone can feel like the Grumpy Old King sometimes, it needn't last. Remember that there's so many different things to do across Neopets that just because you have been unlucky that doesn't mean you can't have fun elsewhere! Play your favourite games, click some dailies with guaranteed free items or take your pet to do something fun - anything that will take your mind off your loss and get you doing something feel-good and/or productive. The most important thing to remember is don't suffer in silence! Neomail a friend, turn to your Guild for guidance, or head to the appropriate neoboards to rant your frustrations. Hopefully you will soon find some perspective and realise that you are in stage five...
Stage 5. Acceptance
This is the moment where suddenly your loss isn't your only focus anymore; you brush yourself off and steal yourself, ready to be blasted by the sleeping Snowager (again). Perhaps you are now seeing the loss in a more practical light: so what if your trade offer for a Magical Pea Chia Pop was rejected? Maybe you will borrow a Pea Chia instead! Perhaps you are going to start saving up for an even better item than the one you were hoping to get in Tarla's Shop of Mystery? Perhaps you are just simply remembering that yesterday you did well with Buried Treasure? Acceptance of your Neopian loss doesn't necessarily mean forgetting, it only means that you are ready to throw yourself into the next task, be it cautiously cruising the auctions looking for good deals again, or buying hundreds of cheap Serf Lenses (ready to discard in their dozens to get the "Rubbish" avatar... or because you really like a good Serf Lens).
These stages are a guideline to the typical things a player might feel, but it's good to remember that everyone is an individual and if you go through any combination of these stages - or even none at all - that is perfectly fine too!
The most important thing to keep in mind is that while it doesn't feel good at the time, the majority of us already know that losses are part of Neopets life: with every chance that you might lose out, you might also win big! Otherwise, why would any of us EVER pull the Lever of Doom..?
*No offence to anyone who LIKES Mutant Skeiths - I am sure they look just lovely in the right clothing.