A couple of weekends back I was on my first LARP of the year. More on that later. During one of the breaks a bunch of us were sitting around talking about how we explained to people what we were doing that weekend. It lead us down the rabbit hole until friends shared their horror stories of being picked on for being different.
I’ve been very fortunate that as an adult, no one has ever made fun of me for being slightly weird. Yes, I was picked on at school, but I think that happens to almost everyone, and after the incident in my third year that stopped anyway. My job is also quite geeky, so I probably never leave the bubble.
I do a little bit of mentoring on the side, for IT apprentices, and one thanked me once for proving that it was ok for him to be himself. I didn’t want to ruin the moment by turning it into a motivating speech, so simply told him that he was welcome. The truth is that I didn’t have a clue what he was on about.
In normal life, I give a very different first impression. I come across as someone who probably has a stick stuck up somewhere where the sun don’t shine. I don’t morph into the eejit that my friends all tolerate until I’ve known someone for a while, as I am weary of new people. Once I get to know you a little, I come out of my shell.
Maybe having this defence mechanism helps. Being a geek is a large part of my personality, but it isn’t something that I throw into people’s faces. During the same weekend I surprised people when I mentioned that I used to spend Holy Week walking around the countryside carrying a large cross. It just wasn’t they thought I would do, until I mentioned it, and then “I see that”.
I have had people ask questions like “Why go to a midnight showing of Star Wars?” I generally see that as a question from curiosity, which allows to talk about how geekdom is a hobby, passion and something that I get so much enjoyment from. It equate it to fashion, shoes, sports or any other thing that someone can be passionate about. I’ve found that the people I deal with accept this.
Well, to my face anyway. If they laugh at me behind my back, I’m not actually bothered. I would only get upset if they laughed at my face, which hasn’t happened yet.
I used to work with someone who was really into wrestling, and of course someone asked him once “Why do you like wrestling, it’s all fake?” With lead to a exuberated look upwards, and a monologue about something being pre-determined not equating to it being bad. You generally know how TV and films are going to end (good guys win, bad guys not), but it is how you get there. Geeks aren’t the only ones who get asked the same questions regularly.
Going back to the question about how I explained to others what I was doing that weekend, I said that I was spending the weekend saving the world. It’s so much simpler than saying that I was going on a LARP and then explain what it was. They fall into that trap when they quizzically ask what I mean by “save the world”. Queue the monologue.