After watching an episode of Ask Gary Vee, I got to thinking about why I do the things I do. Rabbit holes like this are not always good things to follow.
Show and Tell Fucked Me Up
Stand a kid up in front of the class, ask them to share their interests, then criticize their choice of presentation. No wonder they don’t have this shit in school anymore.
When I was five, my grandfather was my big damn hero. He retired from the Navy to build stealth fighters and whatnot. In the mid-80s, in the eyes of a five-year-old, my grandfather was a mutherfuckin’ G.I. Joe! Of course, I’m going to share everything I can about him at school.
Maybe it’s ridiculous to bring a different G.I. Joe or memorabilia of your grandfather’s to show and tell every single day, but it’s what I had to show. It’s what I loved, and the other kids loved it too. I can still remember the awe on some of their faces as they couldn’t wait for me to pass around my toy, or my grandfather’s medals. My teacher, however, didn’t see it that way. After a while, she said that if I brought in something that wasn’t G.I. Joe or about my grandfather the class would all clap for me.
So what did I do? Next show and tell, I brought in the G.I. Joe fighter jet my grandfather bought me for Christmas and told the class how my papa works on them. Take that, bitch!
The rebelliousness continued for…I don’t remember how long (I was five). But that year, I discovered my next great love: Ninja Turtles!
This is Where it Gets Jacked Up
My mother bought me this green mutant toy. I had no idea what it was, but he had two swords…just like Snake Eyes! He had to be cool.
I can’t remember if she read the packaging to me or if I could read yet, but I dug their story. Splinter was like my papa, teaching a bunch of rebellious kids to fight for a world that doesn’t like them (shit, now I know why I got into X-Men so hard, too).
The next day, I took my ninja turtle with the kung-fu grip to class for show and tell and told everybody about Leonardo. I was so caught up in this guy, I didn’t even mention G.I. Joe or my papa. The kids were all about it, just like with my other show and tells.
Then the teacher told everyone to clap for me because I showed something new. So the things I was really interested in weren’t good enough for her? It’s people like her who kill respect for authority figures.
To her credit, she had the empathy to recognize how I retreated within myself and wanted nothing to do with her and her games. She said she wouldn’t have them clap anymore.
I’m pretty sure I pouted my way over to the corner and sat with a friend whose name I can’t remember.
Look What I Can Do
This experience is one of two things I can remember from when I was five, the other was seeing my sister for the first time. So it’s safe to say it affected me pretty badly. It taught me two (false) things about the world:
- If other people don’t like what you like, they’ll ridicule you.
- If you lie to show people what they like, they’ll like you.
Fortunately, I had really awesome friends who tempered this trauma — we loved all the same shit and banded together with a big “fuck you” when others said what we liked was dumb. We were the Loser’s Club from IT, but were too busy enjoying our lives to notice.
Fast-forward 20+ years, and everything I’ve ever done — the martial arts, creative writing, game design, etc. — were narcissistic attempts to show people what I could do in hopes that some of it, any of it, would garner acceptance from someone. The worst thing that could have happened to me, I suppose, was for someone to accept what I did. Imagine the monster that would create.
Turning it Around
Taking a look at why I do things — which I articulate as a desire to share my experiences, interests, traumas, skills, and creativity with others in hopes of eliciting an emotional response — is both liberating and traumatic. But a problem can’t be solved unless you know about it. Because knowing is half the battle.
The thing is, everyone has a tendency for something that’s not entirely positive. I had everything, so I never desired to have more. Hence, I’m not materialistic like some people. I have confidence in myself because I was never told that I couldn’t do something.
Everyone has something that makes them get up in the morning, too. For me, it’s an urge to learn, create, and experience new things, so I can share them with others. I don’t care about nice cars or a big house. All I want to do is excite people with what I have to show and tell them about.