I think probably the most significant stressor for a DPS player, especially us pure DPS classes, is that we really have nothing to hide behind when we perform poorly. Damage meters are right there on World of Logs after the raid, and unless you had a specific responsibility to take care of during the fight, there's nothing more to say. You either did good damage or you didn't. Tanks and healers have difficult, stressful jobs too, but I think it's fair to say that there's no single, objective measuring stick for those roles. Evaluating a tank or healer's performance on a given fight is always going to be more involved and more complex than "this one has the biggest number!"
I am personally pretty disappointed about my November 10 performance, even though it was just a ToC25-normal farm night. The new guild was nice enough to give me a couple nice upgrades before the raid, and my damage-done numbers didn't reflect those upgrades like they ought to have. Looking at the logs afterward was pretty depressing, and it always takes my brain a bit to stop flailing uselessly and start trying to figure out what I could have done better. Getting a handle on that flailing and coming up with solutions is an important part of things, though, so here's what I've come up with:
- Most importantly, double-check my DPS assignments with the class lead. The new guild does some things differently from the old guild, of course, and I think I spent time (for example) DPSing targets that didn't have melee debuffs on them. DPSing the correct targets should yield improvement.
- Remember that I've appointed myself the IHM/GoHM hunter, and as such, the other hunter can optimize his glyphs and spec because I'm covering the mark. Assuming equal gear levels, he should be at least a little ahead of me. I'm only really in trouble if he's way ahead of me.
- Depending on fight, reign in my ctrl+1 reflexes. By which I mean I have a really strong habit of having my dog attack whatever I'm targeting, even on Gormok or Jaraxxus, where it makes more sense for him to stay in melee and consistently DPS one target the entire time.
If I can keep this stuff in mind for the next raid, I should be more in line with the DPS I'd expect from a hunter at my gear level and that, in turn, should help me recover my DPS self esteem. I think it can be important to remember this sort of stuff as a hunter. I felt pretty bad looking at logs after a guild run where no one has said anything negative to me. If you're a player that pugs a lot of raids, the sort of chest-thumping mouth breathers that like to boast about VoA performance can make things pretty miserable. Keep in mind that you know your gear, class, and latency better than that warrior tank does. Keep expectations for yourself reasonable, look for improvement where you can, and don't sweat the socially maladjusted troglodytes. And if anyone would like to share their strategies or stories about confidence recovery, I'd love to hear them!