The Innocence of Tracer

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Cheers, love! The cavalry’s here!

In a world of grimdark assassinmurderer killbots, Tracer is the bubbly bulletstorm of innocent justice.

Does she shoot people?  Heck yeah!  She throws bombs, too!  But there is an important distinction to be made in her motivation for her actions.

Tracer fights for the side of good, not moral ambiguity, not vengeance, not money.  She fights to defend humanity, to protect others from evil, and to end oppression of the weak.  Beyond this, she is a well of optimism and energy for her teammates.  She’s probably the cheeriest “Assassin” class character we’ve every covered here on the blog.

The really interesting thing about Tracer is the fact that she maintains this optimism in the face of great adversity.  Overwatch was originally created to help save humanity from extinction in the Omnic war, and Tracer joined because mankind was literally on the brink of being wiped out.  Tracer spends her days locked in battle against the forces of evil, originally the Omnic scourge, now Talon.  As if all that were not enough, she also experienced extreme trauma in the Slipstream accident, where she contracted her “chronal disassociation” condition.

Suffice it to say, the girl’s been through a lot, but even so, she manages to keep on a bright face, and a positive attitude.  Let’s talk a bit about what goes into having that kind of mindset, and how it can help YOU.

Let’s try that again!

Now of course, Tracer has one advantage over us mere mortals, and that’s her ability to travel through time.  She can rewind her own personal timestream when she makes a mistake, and attempt the same challenge from a different angle.

We may not be able to reverse time, but we can attempt a challenge from a different angle again, even after we fail!  In fact, our failures can often be turned into our greatest advantages, provided we have the optimism and the creativity to see how.

Failure is probably our greatest teacher, in life.  It tells us several things.

  1. We tried something that involved a risk.
  2. We put enough of an effort into that thing that it had a chance of succeeding (because there is no failure without a chance for success.)
  3. We may have failed, but we are still here (if you weren’t, you wouldn’t very well be pondering the failure, would you?)

Failure sucks.  Believe me, I know it firsthand.  Anyone who has experience success in any significant way has experienced many, many more failures.  I’ve won tons of trophies in karate tournaments.  I’ve lost many, many more matches than I’ve won.  I’ve run four successful businesses to date, I’ve had more than a dozen come and go.  I’m happily married to an amazing woman, but I went through half a dozen failed and abusive relationships before now.

Sometimes failure is entirely our fault, but usually it’s a combination of external circumstances, with our own poor decisions thrown in there for good measure.  When looking at a failed situation, you need to realize you usually cannot control those external circumstances.  You can, however, use your own experience to influence the decisions you make, and how you react to those external circumstances.

In fact, the more you fail, the more knowledge you carry with you on how to avoid it in the future.

Tracer’s failures can literally end in death, for her.  She can, however, rewind back, look at how her approach may have caused that potential death, and then attack the problem from a different angle.  Maybe she’ll blink up those stairs, rather than run down that alley.  Maybe she won’t attack that point at all.

You, too, can use your own experiences to help you avoid future failures.

Optimism Under Pressure

Staying optimistic, of course, can be key to surviving and learning from our failures.  Tracer’s always got a cheery word for her teammates, or a snappy quip for her enemies.  Maintaining a positive outlook like this isn’t actually a matter of being happy all the time, however.  In Blizzard’s Alive short, we see Tracers inquisitive cheeriness on display, but we also see her clearly get upset at the end.

Sometimes we have an illusion that happy, optimistic people are just happy all the time.  It’s a dangerous illusion, because it sets up the assumption that if we, too, want to be optimistic, we need to maintain that happiness and optimism all the time.

I, personally, have an indomitable internal optimism.  I live under the belief that tomorrow always has a chance to be better than today, and that I am perpetually destined for greatness, if I just keep my chin up.

This doesn’t mean, however, that I am always happy.  My wife, my family, and my friends can attest to the fact that I do have dark days, and bad moods, and periods of self-doubt.  I can usually even feel them coming on before they happen.

The key is that I recognize when I’m having a bad day, or when I’m in a funk, and I accept it.  If I’m feeling particularly down for some reason, I don’t expect myself to be happy, or optimistic.  I talk to someone I care about, and let them know I’m feeling down, and maybe I vent to them, or I go and do something that I know I’ll enjoy, not to cheer myself up, but just to put my mind at ease for a while.

The peace that comes with accepting that darker mood, whatever is may be, is accompanied by the knowledge that it is, in fact, temporary.  I know from experience that when I’m bummed out, or angry, or just stressed, that it is temporary.  I accept it, I feel it, and I know that, when I wake up the next day, I will probably feel better.

Now, this is not to say you can just think and accept your way out of depression.  If you are clinically depressed, simply trying to think your way happy usually isn’t quite enough.  If you think you’re battling depression, I urge you to reach out to a professional.  You don’t need to fight that battle alone.

Tracer’s been through a lot, and she’d be nowhere without her teammates to help her.  Having a support group (like Winston, and the rest of Tracer’s Overwatch team) is invaluable when you’re trying to maintain a positive attitude.  Talk to your friends and family, and reach out for help when you need it, even if it’s just a night of gaming with your buddies.

In the end, staying positive, learning from your failures, and keeping your support group around you are all recipes for success that we can learn directly from Overwatch’s plucky heroine.  Tracer inspires her teammates, and she’s inspired me, as well.  I hope, between the two of us, you’re inspired too!

That’s it for our Tracer coverage!  Check out the Youtube channel tomorrow for our weekly edition of Q&A Tuesday, and then back here on the blog on Thursday for a new blog post (and a surprise!)   Until then, remember to live boldly, change the world, and continue to be awesome!

Dan “DaRatmastah” Wallace

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