I can still remember where I got my first epic. A world drop. I remember a guild mate told me to sell it because he could craft me better. But it was epic....EPIC!
So I equipped it and happily used it. I remember other players actually asking me about it. I still have it although I've long since quit playing that character. Epics were really rare back then.
Fast forward to this year, where I finally decide to level an alt I'd had for almost 2 years to max. Within 2 months of hitting 70 I find myself wearing mostly all epics and as a druid this is in cat and bear form. And this is from me playing the least amount I've ever played since starting back in 2004. Yet this is by no means a record of some sort nor an exceptional feat.
You are able to craft your own epics with relative ease now and you can get "welfare epics" from badges and pvp. Not to mention epics from faction grinding. You can get a full set of epics without ever setting foot in an instance.
Epics are common now and less meaningful. Heck even legendaries almost seem common now - our guild recently asked some of the raid members to list items they wanted and the rogues wrote down Warglaives like they drop every day.
So it's no surprise that I log on to my character dripped in the color of royalty and feel like I haven't really accomplished much. My character is much beefier and deadlier than any character I've ever had probably. But I have no stories to tell about how I ran Stratholme 100 times for Beaststalker pants, because there were no alternatives better. No tales about how I pvped my way to a rank 10 Lieutenant Commander's Leather Helm, because that separated the men from the boys.
I don't miss those days, but I kinda wish there was a happy medium. Where things take some effort to get, but don't sap your life energy out of you. This is as hard to do as balancing classes for pvp. Everyone's level of effort is different. What seems like easy grinding to me may make someone else say I don't have a life. What seems like a monumental effort to me, may make the next person think I'm casual.
Either way, what I've done felt really easy and leaves me a little unfulfilled. I try to think what my first character with her epic sword she was so proud of would think about my spoiled alt brat.
15 hours ago