Have you ever gone somewhere, done something, or have something happen that made you feel like you belonged? Did your sense of well-being become uplifted in ways you couldn’t imagine? Did people build you up with so many positive comments that you felt like you were home? Now, imagine never having that feeling for your whole life, or thinking that it was never going to happen. I was living in a hell within the chaos of my mind for years, never feeling like I belonged anywhere or that I would be validated…until the events which took me in a whole new direction.
For a long time, being in school was difficult. Several times in grade school I was the victim of cruel and vicious bullying. This was made even harder by the fact that I couldn’t avoid the conflict that would occur in my family. Now don’t get me wrong, I love my parents and family, and they love me very much; it’s just hard to avoid the big drama that inevitably occurs in a big family.
Going into junior high, the bullying was a lot less, and I found a couple of people who were my friends for that time. Unfortunately, I was still not immune. More than once I gave into the demands of a short, stocky little bastard who threatened me with bodily harm. On two occasions I had my gym bag and P.E. clothes taken from me; having to borrow temporary ones and then later buying new ones was embarrassing to me.
During high school, I began to feel accepted. Having joined the music department and choir, I soon had a great circle of friends,
some of whom I’m still in touch with today. The problem was that even though the bullying lessened once again, it took on a more “adult” form. It took me a long time for my aspie brain to notice, but eventually I could feel it: the whispers behind my back, the ostracism, and the gossip…hell, just go to any country club or “society” function and you’ll find it there: more glorified bullying in my eyes.
After starting college, the bullying ceased. Looking at it now, it was because I began taking my life in a whole new direction. I realize now that I was subconsciously inclined towards “geek culture” for some time, but it wasn’t until 2001 when I first went to the San Diego Comic-Con that I had finally come home.
When I was little, and the torment was strong, the cartoons I watched after school and on Saturday mornings provided a respite from whatever bad feelings I had. The memories and thrills they gave me are still with me after all these years. Most of my favorites are from the mid-eighties to the late nineties, and thanks to the power of YouTube, I can relive the action and humor once again.
I also took notice of certain movies when I was growing up; another subtle introduction to being a geek. Of course it also helped that music has been a part of my life for years because now I could express my knowledge in a setting where such insight would be welcomed without judgment. But the Comic-Con, well, the day I went to my first one, was the day that my world really opened up.
The first time I walked into the convention center, I could see the tables, booths, and displays that held all of the comics, graphic novels, videos, and DVDs that felt like visions of fantasies in my head come to life. To meet people who had interests similar to mine was one of the biggest revelations to my aspie brain. Even though I did receive some much-needed guidance and support during high school, the way that the Comic-Con experience touched me was on a whole other level. I was definitely in a place where I belonged and in the subsequent ten years that I have attended, my feelings haven’t changed and I know they never will.
To find your place in the world is a great feeling, but it may not come easy or in ways that you expect, or even when you expect them. It took me a long time to find that feeling of belonging. However, when I did, I found out that the world opened up to me when I became more open. The lesson I learned was this: learn to embrace who you really are, and find out where you fit in the world. There will be challenges that will test you, and finding these things may take a long time, but to find them is, for me, worth everything that I’ve been through.