Growing up geek and a girl, I struggled with finding a way to fit in most of the time. Theater has always been my life, so that flag was always flown loud and proud, but I also love super heroes, dragons, hobbits, magic, Disney, and Harry Potter. I also went to a Baptist school for a large portion of middle and high schools. Care to guess how well those interests went over? Let’s just say I got to know the guidance counselor really well. I also figured out very quickly which of my interests would be tolerated by my surroundings vs. which would get me labelled “hedonist” and “satanist.” Pressure to be accepted, even slightly, by my peers became huge. I wanted so desperately to not be told I was going to hell on a daily basis that I eventually caved. People around me seemed at least mildly tolerant of the theater stuff, so that became my focus.
I established “safe places” for my geekier interests. My cousins were always great. Spending summers with the four of them gave me the chance to read their comics, play their video games, and actually play. To this day one of my favorite memories is playing TMNT with them, especially the episode where April gets turned into a mutant cat. So Much Fun. I also had an awesome friend in the house behind me who shared my interest in magic and ancient Egypt. We used to control the wind with our badminton rackets. But kids grow up. I saw my cousins less, and backyard mystic sessions became fewer, farther between, and eventually non-existent.
For a while I was able to get away with visiting the local comic shops to keep up on Batman and X-Men, but that didn’t last long. It turns out that shop-keepers don’t like it when you come in once a week but never actually buy anything. I quickly became persona non grata. (I’ve been told I lucked out there, what with so many varying/convoluted story lines that all my favorite comics had to be rebooted various times.) That part of my life became limited to an after school cartoon, a weekly BTVS viewing, and before bed reading, which was ever discussed with anyone.
By the time I found an environment where all of these things would be easily accepted by friends (college), I wasn’t really sure how to fully be myself anymore. I definitely used some of them as an outlet, which made things a lot easier. I slowly got more comfortable letting more of my interests be known, and even exploring some new ones. It felt really good to have open conversations about Gandalf vs. Voldemort or where the real life location of Gotham probably is. Things like that helped me start to figure out it truly was okay to be who I am. I reevaluated my proverbial flag pole, and started having weekly viewing parties of “Big Bang Theory” with my “geekiest” friends. Turns out, it’s a much better way to live.