When I was a little boy, I like many children, enjoyed playing with my toys. I would take all the action figures I could get my hands on and create the imaginary worlds where my figurines would live. And I would live through them. I would dream up ways that the small insignificant Lego man had to overpower the brute teenage mutant ninja turtle to save his friends, or kingdom.
And when I got my hands upon a ball of silly putty, all bets were off.
This silly putty was like the shape shifting T 1-000 of characters in this elaborate game. It had the power to heal itself, and engulf its enemy and take over their being… But I digress.
Where I am “coming clean” here is that this lasted past my early childhood years. I distinctly remember 8th grade (perhaps even freshman year) keeping little creations that I would construct in my desk drawer and if I had time, was tired of trying to beat Zelda on Nintendo, had nothing else to do, or was just plain ol’ feeling up to it, I would dig out these little heroes immerse myself in this little fantasy world.
This was Long Ago
I don’t remember when things changed exactly. But I do know why they did. No one ever said anything to me. Heck, no one even knew what I was doing. But as I was getting older, I knew how cruel children can be. I never wanted to be subjected to that cruelty. I probably thought I had to put on a show of some sort.
Growing up, I never talked about comic books because everyone was reading and memorizing sports stats instead. I stayed a closeted “geek” and outwardly fit in just fine. But inside, I was a mess. I felt like I was living a lie. Like I wasn’t being true to myself.
Where I went to school, where I went to study abroad, and where I went to college, was going through the motions. In hindsight, I am thankful for those opportunities, but only because I never lost my true self.
The fact that I went into marketing in the first place was a massive shift in my life where I asserted my own independence and decided to do “something different” than everyone else. And I have to be honest, at the time, it was pretty scary. I don’t think I had ever really done that before.
This Has All Since Changed
Since then, since I have advanced in my career, since I have gotten more confidence in myself, I have pretty much stopped caring about all that. What people think of me really doesn’t matter if I don’t think highly of myself. I now openly talk about my love of comic books, and StarWars. I ‘geek out’ over seeing and meeting my “internet celebrities” much more than I would about seeing a more “mainstream” celebrity. And a HUGE credit of this goes to our incredibly talented, open, and accepting internet community we have created. A community where Rand can write an article about this and encourage people to share their struggles.
Something Else Has Changed Too
I have children of my own. And you know what I get to do again? I get to sit down on the floor with my son, take all the action figures I bought for him (and trust me, there are a lot), and create new magical worlds.
And even better than that, I get the chance to make him feel that his imagination is a gift. That he should never let go of it.That he should nurture it, and create worlds upon worlds that he brings to life from inside his head.
I get to make sure he never feels the way I did.
(and here are the pictures to prove it)