I missed my first few days of high-school. Being an overly nervous kid, and being prone to throwing up when nervous later in life, I can’t really remember if I was sick as in germ-sick, or simply anxious. And, once I arrived on the third day, the anxiety, if it existed at that young age, did not simply vanish. It deepened.
It’s hard to say what I was worried about; I’m not sure worry always manifests itself in logic – it seems much more prone to be birthed in assumptions and fear. My assumption was that I wouldn’t fit in. My fear was that I’d be made to feel that way. And there were certainly students who took delight in feeding my fear. I was teased a lot, rocks were thrown at me, and, most cruelly, I was laughed at.
Part of the reason I was mocked was because of my love for Nintendo.
I used to take the Nintendo magazines I obsessively collected and cut out the individual figures (so carefully!) and stick them onto A4 sheets of paper. I was making posters. And I took these to school sometimes, to show my friends. I remember being laughed at, and being made to feel ashamed of what I’d created.
Nintendo was the first thing I was ever good at. I couldn’t handball to save my life. Car engines made me nervous. But by gum I could pass Facility in Goldeneye 007 on Agent mode in under 2:10, earning myself the invincibility un-lockable. I didn’t know how to talk to girls. But man could I make the insane leap off the track at the start of Rainbow Road in Mario Kart 64 and land the almost impossible jump onto the opposite track, cutting half my lap time.
The Nintendo Switch arrives tonight, at midnight. I’ve made it a point to celebrate this with my kids. Nintendo nights are now about our family. After collecting them tomorrow, after kindy, we’re going straight to the store to pickup our preorder and then driving home. Tonight we put the Wii away to make room. And there will be hotdogs. And ice-cream.
There’s nothing shameful in being different.