I know my worth. I know what I do.
Other people know it too.
Having self-confidence is so important in Tekken because there are so many ways that it can be played. If you find a way that works for you and you find that you’re growing from it, that means you’re able to express yourself.
When you see the pro’s playing in such distinct ways, they are conveying that they are confident. They’ve built that confidence over time, testing their playstyle against various high level players.
When I first started competing I never thought about how I looked. I was only going to local tournaments and was unaware of things like stream chat and comments, so didn’t have that pressure affecting me.
But the more I competed, the more people saw my face.
When I competed at ELEAGUE, I was confident in my ability. Not only as a player, but as captain of Team Cuddle_Core. I’m proud of what we achieved there – first place and $50,000 between us.
I remember my parents picked me up after with roses and a jar of peanut butter. That might sound like an odd combination, but it’s one of my favourite snacks, and it was a nice celebration!
When I got back to school I did what they always tell you not to – I looked at the comments.
There were comments about my face. Comments saying that I was ugly. Some people talked about my jawline and asked if I was transgender. I’m not, but I’m also not there to please viewers with whatever their idea of a “dream girl” is. I’m there to compete. I’m there to win.
That’s not to say that there weren’t any nice comments, but because I didn’t meet the expectations of a woman to some people, that warranted criticism of my appearance. I’m a Tekken player through and through, that’s all that matters to me, but people didn’t seem to want to talk about that.
It felt like my medal and my accomplishment all melted away. In each racist or sexist comment, it looked clear that no matter how skilled I was, all they cared about was that I wasn’t their imagined image of their ideal woman.
I love playing, and I love competing, but in those moments I did start questioning all of it.
“If I’m crying and hurting, do I really want to put myself out there again?”
That was something I had to tackle as a woman and as a black woman. I had to make sure that I never succumbed to it. I can beat them. It’s always great to beat people up with those mentalities. Tekken itself is very supportive, but I have to silence the 5% that aren’t.
I made history there for women and for myself, so I really had to prioritise – what’s the bigger picture here? If you don’t like that, that’s your problem. You can’t kick me out.
I’m here to stay.
One of the things that stopped me from leaving was my support network. During a conversation with my sister once, I remember saying “If I wear this makeup, I’m just letting them win”
She taught me that it was fine to want to look good. It’s ok to care about the way I look. It’s not to take away or hide anything, there’s a way of going about your appearance as a professional.
The way a lot of celebrities can get through similar problems with such confidence and swagger was a big motivator for me. The further I got into it, the more I realised that there are consequences to going pro, good and bad. You have to have a thick skin.
Now, I’m confident. Sometimes you have to be your own hype-woman, and it’s made competing much more fun.
Before pools, I take the time to look in the mirror and do my make-up the way I want to. It feels like I’m putting on my armour. It makes me feel good, and the better I feel, the better I play.
Every pro has things that make them confident on stage. For some people it’s about their chair, their clothes, whatever – I have my gum, my music, and of course, my make-up.
You won’t see me crumble on the stage. Backstage, it’s a different story. I get upset, and I vent to teammates. But that’s because I want to be better, not because of what someone I don’t know might think about me.
I have a whole army that has my back. Friends, family, and supporters. They helped me get here, and they’re the ones who matter.
There’s a difference between the kind of people that criticise you to keep you down and the ones that give you constructive criticism. You’ll know which is which. Make sure you surround yourself with the kind of people that want you to do better and want to see you grow.
It’s better for the scene overall if we focus on connecting, and we’re making changes there. The Women of the FGC Panel at EVO and Combo Queens are great examples of that.
A girl I met told me about some of the comments she’d been dealing with. She said: “I thought to myself, Cuddle_Core knows what to do and she’s dealt with this, so I can too”
Making a difference and helping people like that both in and out of the game is what I want to do. I hope this reaches other people who are struggling too. Both Women and Men.
Whether your self doubt is coming from inside or outside of the game, evaluate why you have that doubt. Talk to yourself about what it is that you need to change to remove that doubt.
It’s something that you need to consistently do, like a good habit. You can write down pros and cons about your doubt; Will it hurt you? Will it improve you? How?
Start from there.
Image Credit: Timo Kauff
Tam Mageean assisted with the creation of this article