First off, I would like to take a moment to thank everyone who has taken the time to check out my blog and leave me positive feedback. This means the world to me, and I can’t thank you all enough! I’ve been a bit stressed about my second post, since my first one seemed to do so well. Worried that I’d not be able to maintain consistently decent content, I’ve decided to take this as an opportunity to expand on my debut blog entry.
Buckle up, this is going to be a long one.
In my previous post, I mentioned that my Griever tattoo was not only special to me, but strategically placed. The tattoos I have within my own eyesight are there for a reason, and serve as important reminders of who I am, and where I have come from.
I guess I should start by explaining what “Griever” is.
Griever is a Guardian Force, or GF, that appears in the Final Fantasy series. Namely, Final Fantasy VIII. He is of a lion, full of power, strength and courage:
In the event that you’re wondering what a GF is, don’t worry. There’s no need to open a new tab for a Google search, I’ll give you a brief rundown.
Guardian Forces are minions of lore and power that are used throughout the Final Fantasy series in a running theme: they form an unspoken alliance with your character(s) and can be called to your aid during battle. They possess magical abilities, healing, protection, brute strength, and are just overall harbingers of bad-assery. Most of the GFs featured in the Final Fantasy series are creatures of real-life lore, and in some cases, religions. Some recognizable examples of this include Shiva, Quetzalcoatl, Ifrit, and Gilgamesh, just to name a few.
Our main protagonist in FF8 is none other than Squall Leonhart; a reluctant hero with aloof tendencies and a gift for combat. He’s focused, and hopelessly dedicated to driving his friends crazy with his general disinterest in vocalizing his thoughts, expressing himself, or even being himself, for that matter.
In the game, almost all of the GFs can be swapped between your party members. The exception to this rule is Griever, he belongs to Squall and Squall alone.
Squall spends about 80% of the game running from himself in addition to his feelings, as well as his calling. He is respected and looked up to by his comrades, his elders, and even his enemies. People are drawn to him because of his ability to make decisions and execute orders, but openly acknowledge that he comes off as unfriendly and rude. Hell, even he knows it:
This doesn’t stop his friends (and teachers) from opening up to him or leaning on him for leadership.
He isn’t exactly receptive…..
On top of that, he isn’t comfortable in a position of leadership and often questions it, coming to the realization that he’s scared of himself and scared of opening up to others.
It isn’t until nearly the end of the game, that he begins to come to terms with his fears and in turn, he stops running from himself and the people around him.
Up until this point of the game, we knew that Griever existed, but we were never able to summon him or use him. We don’t actually see what Griever looks like until we engage in battle with the game’s main antagonist: Ultimecia. It’s during this battle that she identifies the GF sleeping within our hero, and extracts Griever to use him against us during this “final” confrontation of sorts.
This was not only a HUGE spoiler and turning point in the game, it was a turning point for me as a person when I first played through the title. There I sat, aged 15, with my jaw on the floor, surrounded by empty bags of chips and empty soda cans, wondering what the fuck just happened. How could this (literal) witch take MY power from MY hero and use it to start kicking MY ass?
How fucking dare her.
It was in that moment that I realized something, something that resonated so deeply with me that I would wind up tattooing the symbol of Griever to my forearm years later:
You can’t run from yourself.
Squall ran from himself for the better part of his young adult life, and the majority of the game, only to lose himself to the world (Ultimecia). It wasn’t until he nearly lost it all, that he gained the inner strength to embrace himself, the people around him, and his ability to make a difference in the world.
If you’re in the habit of running from yourself, running from who you are, running from how you feel or running from your calling; the world will rip you apart because you are letting it. Ultimecia taught me a rough lesson that day, a lesson I’ve never forgotten.
Don’t be afraid of the world.
Don’t be afraid of change.
Don’t be afraid of growth.
Don’t be afraid of the people around you.
Don’t be afraid of yourself.
“Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness, that most frightens us. Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won’t feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine as children do. It’s not just in some of us; it is in everyone. And as we let our own lights shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.”
– Marianne Williamson
I carry Griever with me everywhere I go. He resides on my right forearm so that when times get tough, or I clutch my chest in an effort to stifle any ache in my heart or any doubt in my soul, I can summon Griever to remind me of who and what I am.
Maybe I’m a Lion.