“Aren’t you too old for that? At your age shouldn’t you be doing something else? Isn’t that for kids? What a waste of time and money! Isn’t that just so childish!”
We’ve all heard it. The scoffing and tutting as we talk about our interests, fandom, likes and collections. The silent and vocal judgements of all geeks and nerds from mainstream society. A condemnation for daring to be different or “other”. And we react in ways that either internalise our emotions by drawing in on ourself and retreating from a scornful world, or we defend and justify our choices loudly and often with venom. We attack back because they attack us. Neither reaction is wrong but I also don’t think that they’re right either.
There has to be, no, there needs to be a better way.
All we do by reacting in these ways is to prove in the minds of society that the stereotypes and tropes about us are right. And I want to be more than a stereotype, lazy writing or the punchline of a joke.
This idea that society feeds into about being different, breaking away from the norm or just wanting to go our own way as somehow inherently wrong or lesser in some way because we don’t “fit” in. Fit in where exactly? A narrow and stifling world view that is proving every day to no longer be the status quo? I’ll take standing out from the “norm” any day than perpetuating this myth of what is “normal”.
Why should we be ashamed of the things we love and enjoy and have to hide away because our interests are seen as an alternative to mainstream society? And giving back what we receive and attacking back doesn’t do anything but perpetuate the myth of the angry nerd. We as a society as a whole, not just in the fandom cultures, need to be mindful of others. Two wrongs don’t make a right after all and by responding to hate with more hate doesn’t do anything but justify to them that they are right about us.
They call us children and childish and we respond in a way that justifies their world view in their minds. After all “adults” are rational and thoughtful and never lose their tempers, they use their words carefully and thoughtfully to solve their conflicts. Though looking at the current state of things where a simple reply of “Ok Boomer” can set off a tirade of vitriol and spite of unfathomable proportions.
And what’s so wrong with being childish anyway?
Childhood is when you can be free and happy with no limits. You can tell everyone that you’re a dinosaur and they just smile and play along. Somewhere along the way, we lose sight of that and I think that’s why people criticize those of us who still hold onto what are “childish” things. We are told to grow up, be quiet, follow the rules etc. All things that are supposed to prepare us for the big wide real world.
But isn’t the world what we and others make of it? We constrained the day into hours, minutes and seconds. We hobbled ourselves with commerce and money. We shape and warp nature to fit our way of how it should be. Perhaps the way we are as children is the way we should be as adults. Full of wonder and a joyful spark for life. Where we can shape who we are day by day, minute by minute with simple wants and wishes.
Maybe that’s why people dismiss our interests, fandom, likes and collections the way they do. Because to them, it can not possibly hold any real worth in this money-driven society because they can not understand why we do what we do because it’s worth isn’t measured in money. It’s measured in something far more valuable.
So now whenever someone says anything to me about my hobbies and interests do you know what I say?
“It makes me happy.”
Just that and no more. No defences or justifications. Just it makes me happy. No hiding or deflecting about what I do in my free time. Simple and quiet pride in them and a clear statement.
“It makes me happy.”
It’s no about what anyone else thinks, whether they be family, friends, coworkers or strangers in real life or on the internet. What you think is far more important than anyone else, after all, it’s your life to live not theirs.
“Be the change you wish to see in the world”. This quote by Gandhi is one I think is a good philosophy to live by. And I want to change the world to be better, don’t you?
So be out and proud and yes even loud, as long as it’s joyful and happy, and about what you enjoy and love. And never you mind about the haters and naysayers. As long as it makes you happy. After all, that is the best thing. So keep hold of your childish thing. And just remember;
“It makes me happy.”
And isn’t that the important thing?
Main article image by Samantha Sophia on Unsplash.