By the time I finished high school, I knew who I was. At least where it mattered. I was the slightly geeky, overly expressive, heart-on-my-sleeve girl who spent lunch hour in the library, curled up on a couch, reading a book.
Outside of school, my life was much of the same. Books and video games, video games and books. I’d read through the latest installment of Harry Potter within a day after standing in line for a couple of hours at the midnight release. Or, during the interim when I was waiting for the next book, I’d play video games with my brother. Earthbound and the Legend of Zelda series were my favorites.
I remember spending a couple of hours in deep discussion with a friend about all of the notable differences between the first Harry Potter book and the movie. People like that friend from so long ago have always been my people. The misfits, the outcasts, the ones who did not belong to any particular group. We always sat together on a wall in the courtyard at school discussing books, anime, sparring, and the routine for our next JROTC drill meet.
Back then, I knew who I was, but I didn’t love who I was. I didn’t love not fitting in. I didn’t love being teased by the popular kids because I didn’t fit nearly into their perfectly organized box.
After leaving high school, I imagined things would be much different. Adults wouldn’t behave that way because sitcoms showed us that. Right? Wrong. Adults behave much the same as they did in high school. They still bully, tease, and spread gossip like the average teenager. That’s something that doesn’t go away. And they still make you feel like an outsider if you don’t fit into their little box. That doesn’t go away either.
So, here I sit. I’m 34 years young. My pets are named after World of Warcraft characters. I have frequent Lord of the Rings, StarWars, or Harry Potter marathons with my children. My husband and I spend time playing Final Fantasy XIV or World of Warcraft together or binge-watching Bleach. He’s probably the only person that i genuinely click with, but I’m okay with that because he’s my best friend. He’s the one person I can completely geek out in front of without feeling embarrassed.
I’m 34 years of age and I am finally learning to embrace every little thing about myself instead of hiding from it. Not everyone will like me, but I’m okay with that. They don’t have to like me, but i have to like me.
And, after a couple of decades of discovering myself, I do. I really do.