Once a mage Awakens, it is often very difficult to go back to their plain old life without driving themselves insane with boredom; it can be hard to choose a standard nine-to-five job and life in a quiet suburb over a secret life where you drive magic/flying cars and carry around objects out of science fiction and fantasy novels in some cosmic crusade against the forces of evil. Some seem to believe that they can keep their 'Sleeper life' as a safety net, that they can always roll back into the plain, boring life when the other one gets too hot or close to home.
While it isn't imperative to sever all ties to family, friends, and work, most find that their 'lives' bleed onto one another; most often, it becomes hard to not reach out to magic to solve everyday problems or as a first solution, or even to simply spin things to your advantage because you have it. Magic becomes like a drug; once you figure out how it works, you want to use it to tweak just about everything, and that is where the trouble begins. The more one messes with their old, mundane life, the less they find that they get out of it. On the other hand, no matter what a mage does to try to remain normal, some of the strangeness of the magical world seeps into the people and things they touch.
It becomes very important for a mage to find a balance between the magical and the mundane, and it isn't always an easy balance to strike. After all, most people, Awakened or not, have to hold down jobs or get an education, and many want families or already have others whom they have to care and provide for. Some say the easiest way to balance one's mystical life with their mundane is to find a mundane lifestyle that complements their mystical talents; others simply push the envelope to see how far they can shift things in their favor before they get caught. How do you strike this delicate balance?
The Mage and Awakened Society
Some mages believe it is every man for himself, but this is simply not true in this day and age. In fact, with the emergence and success of the Technocracy, the Traditions became the last safe haven for the Awakened, a way for mages to communicate, meet, practice, and survive in a sort of underground movement when mages were forced into secrecy by the Technocracy. Without the formation of the Council and the Traditions as they are, it is likely most Awakened would not have survived.
In the modern era, the Traditions are still a crucial source of survival for mages; the Technocrats aren't stupid, and even a powerful mage has no chance if she stands on her own when facing the agents of logic, while standing with a group of similarly powerful mages would make even the Union think twice about stirring things in her direction, as not only would the efforts of destroying such a group usually be considered wasteful, but the ripples within humanity would be staggering. Thusfar, this debatable 'herd mentality' has proven to be effective in recent years.
Despite the necessity of working together to persevere, however, in-fighting and battles of philosophy are commonplace among the Traditions. It's hard to collect such strong wills and unite them across the globe on such a scale as has been attempted, and that the Council hadn't collapsed in on itself was a miracle in and of itself, a miracle that is five hundred years strong so far, because regardless of the social air, Tradition mages have always been there for each other in times of adversity.
Still, many on both sides of the Ascension War declare it over these days. Why? Because the Traditions have lost most of their best pieces. Their Masters are gone, the experienced leaders of the Traditions are lost, and the strongholds of many Traditions have been destroyed or captured. Does this mean it is truly over? That may be up to each individual mage to decide for themselves.