If there’s one lesson I wish I could teach my younger self, it’s that I have the right to like whatever the hell I want to like. There is so much peer pressure growing up, and there are even hints of it as you reach adulthood, but honestly, looking back I wasted so much time hiding who I really am, shamefully blocking out certain aspects of my personality when around my peers. So my message today is this.
Never let society define you.
In preparation for the eagerly-awaited latest block of English subbed episodes of a particular anime close to my heart, I’ve been re-watching the adventures that gripped me as a child, and am now up to the existing rebooted series. The show I am talking about is Digimon Adventure. In my humble opinion, this show was and still is awesome, and I was completely addicted growing up. I feel like I know all the characters personally, and seeing them grow up alongside me creates all the feels I had as a kid. In fact, to this day, I still idly write Digimon fan fiction from time to time, and when I’m in the mood I watch shipping videos of my favourite couples – which are made by other pretty grown up kids and adults, by the way.
Now, at this point in my life, I’ll proudly state this. I love Digimon – always have, always will – and I will ship Takari forever too. However, I wasn’t always so open about things like this, because naturally, as a teenager who was already bullied anyway, liking a cartoon like this was considered geeky, uncool, childish. Anime was never so universal in my little English Town, so while many teenagers may access it elsewhere, it wasn’t the kind of thing the people around me discussed. If I even so much as mentioned it at school, I was berated by practically everyone because it wasn’t the normal, expected and accepted TV show to enjoy.
But guess what? Here I was thinking that I was somehow the weird one, but while I may have been the only one in my class to like Digimon in particular, age has taught me that everyone has those “guilty pleasures” growing up, the things they don’t like to admit to doing for fear of ridicule or exclusion. Which if you think about it, is the stupidest, most pointless thing of all.
I always tried to adamantly deny it when someone would laugh while telling people I liked kids cartoons at the age of fourteen, but the thing is, I did. It was always a part of what made me me. I did what I had to do to survive the playground, but I let it get to me inside too. I felt genuine shame and I hated myself for being such a loser. I totally get that sometimes putting up a front is the only way, and I’m not going to preach some over-idealistic crap about expressing yourself to everybody you meet in every social situation without consequence, because I know how the real world works. But if someone gives you a hard time about one of your interests, well, quite frankly that’s their own damn problem. No matter what, every single one of you needs to remember: Never forget what’s inside of you and who you are, and never feel bad about anything that makes you happy.
Except if it’s something illegal or violent of course – then maybe I’d re-evaluate some things…
And did I mention how awesome Digimon is?