Something More Personal

Sarah Darkmagic - Posted on 06 April 2010

I'll state up front, this post has little to do with D&D or role-playing or even geek affairs in general. It's just something I felt compelled to write after Chatty made me cry for the second time this week. Both times it had to do with the subjects of intolerance and hatred. If you haven't had the chance to read his latest blog entry, Full-Spectrum Thoughts: The Traitors Among Us, I urge you to go read it now.

Like many geeks, and most people in general, my childhood was not always an easy one. I couldn't accept what society wanted from me, a girl. Part rebellion, part love, I wanted to play sports. This desire was particularly hard on my parents as I had been born with a hole in my heart and playing sports could be quite dangerous for me. Of course, this made me want to play all the more.

While I was eventually able to win them over, the rest of my town was much more difficult. At least two of my elementary school teachers told me that playing sports was just a phase I was going through. They told me that I would be happier when I realized this and stopped playing. Not only that, they told me it was the only way the boys would like me.

As if that wasn't bad enough, the recess aides weren't much better. Once, when I expressed my desire to play basketball during recess, I was told that since the boys didn't want me to play, my choices were to be a cheerleader or go elsewhere. This just led me to get my work done earlier so I could be the first to get the classroom ball and insured a chance to play, or so I thought. A year later, the boys again did not want me to play even though I had brought out the ball. They tried to grab it from my hands and, when I would not let go, dragged me all over the school yard. Instead of yelling at them, I was told that as a girl, I should have known better.

Unfortunately, middle school was not much better. There were constant comments about my orientation, often made by my current crush. And two-hand touch football often became tackle football, at least when the aides weren't around. For me, they made it into a game of seeing who could drive me into the ground, perhaps making me bleed or even cry. Not fun stuff.

So you may be wondering at this point why I am sharing this. Well there are a few reasons. First, as soul crushing as these things could be, I had a lot of really good people out there serving as my points of light. Obviously, my parents and brother were big supporters. Then, there were the people who talked my parents into letting me join the town softball league. And the coaches who made sure I had everything I needed to play even though my parents didn't have a ton of money to spend on sports accessories. And there were friends who let me be my crazy self around them and accepted me for who I was. The one thing these people all had in common was their ability to see what is most important in life, do what makes you happy. It's way more important than money or power or fitting in.

In addition, these events shaped who I am today. They informed most, if not all of the decisions regarding the type of person I want to be. And sometimes, you just need to share that part of your soul in hopes of making the world a better place. I long ago came to conclusion that even when there is nothing I can do to help my lot, being strong might help others. Also if you ever wonder why I can be so shy in public, you now have your answer. You'll also know why I don't back down from a fight.

It's too easy to tear each other down. Even worse, it leads to scars that would take generations to heal. I've seen too many people I love and admire feel the need to retreat from a world they love because there are some people out there who refuse to just by happy or, even worse, find their happiness in inflicting pain on others. I hope you'll read Chatty's blog and join him in his endeavor. Let's stop tearing down and start building up.

Great post! Very personal, very deep. Took a lot of courage. I didn't mean to make you cry. Dayuum, next I'll write about making monsters or somethin'...

No worries! The fact that a couple of your comments brought about that sort of reaction means I needed to write about it. And high school and college went a lot better for me, particularly once people stopped trying to make me fit into their world view. I just hope that my post about why/how I started gaming wasn't part of the problem.

I really empathize.

You know how many young black men growing up in a rural area play D&D? Not a lot. hopefully there are more these days, but I was a nerd-army of one for the entirety of my adolescence. Because I didn't fit in people's stereotypes of how a black man is supposed to talk or act or be interested too, it was just me and my small group of friends making our way out of high school and into the world.

And I wouldn't change a thing. Following a passion, escpecially when it flies in the face of social norms, taxes you mentally and spritually and even physically sometimes (you know how many people wanted to beat me up before they learned that I can actually defend myself?) but what you get in the end is something that is yours. Something that no one can take away. That passion burns more brightly because of it. You make real friends and allies.

Anyway, thanks for sharing! See you and Fred (and Mike?) in two weeks?

Having grown up in a rural town, I know it can be hard to find a nerd army of any size, regardless of race. I have a couple of cousins who are bi-racial and a fair bit younger. They are incredibly creative and a little bit geeky, and I've seen some of the struggles they've gone through. Obviously, I can never understand what you went through, but I do empathize.

I wouldn't change anything about it either. Because I went through those things, I am more aware of what it's like to be unsure and out of one's element. At the same time, I gained a lot of confidence in myself that I can do anything I set my mind to. This makes it a lot easier for me to be a bridge between groups and to just go for it when there is something I really want to do. Knowing these things led me to a great college and the ability to work in a predominantly male field that I love.

One nice thing about my experiences is that I know how deep my well of inner strength goes, which makes it a lot easier for me to stand up for other people. I've often played that role of defender as a result, whether it's standing up to people in authority or scaring my girl scout tent-mates who were making fun of one of the girls.

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