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I Am A Total Loser (or Am I?)

I'm a complete and total loser. I mean, I must be, right?

Nobody can make friends and be interested in things like video games, or anime, or heaven forbid, a show about cartoon ponies geared towards little girls. Right? See, that's the train of thought that I had been boarding for years, thinking that one day I had to grow out of this stuff, and become "cool." Become an "adult." Leave these "childish things" behind and become a real, "upstanding" member of society. Whatever that meant. It had to happen one day, right? Because if it didn't, I would be a virginal loser for the rest of my life, right? And we all know that it's just the worst if a guy can't find some random girl, objectify her, then put his dick into her so he can either feel good about himself, or brag to his buddies later, or maybe some combination of the two! What a bright fucking future.

See, this all started back after my freshman year of high school. I was a stone-cold geek back then, much like I am now, only a lot more socially awkward, and a lot less appealing to look at. Not that I'm particularly attractive now, mind you, but it was a good deal worse back then. But I digress. Back then, I was really into anime and manga and video games and almost exactly the same shit that you can't get me to shut up about now. And in my tiny, private high school, I never really expected to meet anybody with the same interests as me. Surely, nobody could be as immersed as I in the illustrious world of Japanese ah-nee-meh and mahn-gah in such a small space. Or so I thought. I was totally wrong, though, as I became fast friends with a kind of weird guy whose name I'll just leave anonymous. Better yet, I'll call him Kangaroo. Because that's funny. Right?

Kangaroo was a pretty cool guy. I met him slacking off in the computer lab one day, which I did a lot in my freshman year. I had a tendency just to say I was doing work, go to work in the computer lab, and then fuck around on the internet for whole class periods. He was doing the same thing, and while doing it, I noticed that he was watching anime in his down time. We chatted for a bit, then hit it off big time. As it would turn out, he was almost a bigger nerd that I was for the stuff. He introduced me to series I hadn't heard of, showed me new video games that I would've never thought of trying out, and a lot of other great stuff. For a while, we were pretty good friends, even going to Anime Weekend Atlanta 2008 together, which was actually my first big anime convention experience. Well, outside of the time my dad took me for an hour or so, then wanted to leave because he was so freaked out and thought that everybody was weird and awful. But I tend to not count that one for obvious reasons.

Just look at this weird and awful person. (source)
Well, some time went by, and due to varying circumstances, Kangaroo and I just weren't able to hang out as often. It was a shame, too, because we were starting to be pretty good friends. He lent me games, I lent him anime collections. I introduced him to Ranma 1/2, he introduced me to Macross. Before I knew it, though, he went off to college, and we lost touch for a little while. That's where I wish this story ended, but then again, there wouldn't really be a story, and the point of this entire post would be kind of a moot. A good while after he left for college, I tried to reconnect with him on Facebook by posting something anime-related on his wall (this was way before you could do that newfangled tagging sorcery,) if I remember correctly, and shortly thereafter, it was deleted. Huh. Weird, right? But still, I was determined to be his friend still. So, when he posted a picture of him playing the guitar with two... dubious-looking women surrounding him, I made a joke-y comment on it. Something about him "living the life," and asking who the girls were. Surprisingly enough, he messaged me about it, and to this day I can remember what he told me... roughly, at least.

He informed me that the two women were strippers, and that he was able to pick them up because "chicks" really loved the guitar. Well now, that's pretty lame. At least, it was to me. I didn't think that was cool at all. In fact, I kind of thought it made him a jerk, like the kind of guys who're members of frat houses annnnnd wouldn't you know it, he totally was. Okay, well, hey, I could look past that and still be nice. Just because he was in a frat house and objectified women now didn't make him a bad person, right? Except what he said next pretty much sealed the deal for me. He gave me unsolicited advice for picking up women, which involved "forgetting about all that anime stuff," because according to him, "it would be better if somebody finds out you're selling drugs" in college. And then he kind of continued to talk about anime being lame, and how frat life was great, and pretty much going against everything else he had said and done thus far.

How was this even possible? Kangaroo was a nice, fun guy to be around when we hung out. Kind of shy, sheepish, soft-spoken. Sure, maybe he made some pervy comments about anime girls every now and again, but hey, we were teenage boys, that's totally forgivable. Yet here he was, talking about strippers and drinking and posting on Facebook about getting high, like some alien hacked his Facebook account and started posting in his place. This was the same guy who, a few months prior, had told me how much Clannad had made him lose his shit and start bawling. 

Clannad: Blander Than Air, but with more tragic waifus to make your penis sad!
Needless to say, I stopped talking to the guy. We had built up a pretty great friendship over anime and video games, and he had thrown it away within the first few months of going to college. It hurt my feelings a fuck of a lot, if I'm going to be honest, and I'd be a dirty liar if I didn't say that it still kind of does. And on top of that, it got me thinking for a long time about my future. Was my dad right all along? Would I go to college and just... I don't know, forget about everything I liked? Would I start revving my engines in a headstart for liver failure, and become motivated solely by my dick? If so, what was even the point in continuing to have my interests? In collecting expensive pieces of PVC and resin, in watching weird cartoons with breasts that defied gravity, in immersing myself in things that ultimately just involved twiddling my thumbs on a piece of a plastic? Hell, it seemed like I had just wasted most of my life away at that point, if the end of the line was just going to be like that.

As you've probably figured out by now, I didn't turn out that way at all, as luck would have it. I'm enough of a "bleeding heart" feminist to the point where I've been called "SJW scum" and revel in it, and I'll be damned if a day doesn't pass when I blather on about watching some weird, obscure anime from the early 90's. Midnight launches of video games? There. Anime conventions hosting my favorite voice actors? Totally there, probably in costume. Point is, while I'm not really a perfect person, I didn't turn my back on things I liked in an attempt to fit in. 

Why not? Well, because to me, that would just be really dishonest. Look, I'm not saying Kangaroo was a bad guy. He probably went to a strange new place, met some people who made fun of him, and buried his past in an attempt to make some new friends and stop the harassment. And while it's unfortunate that he had to do that, I can't say I blame him. I've almost done it myself more times than I can count, almost throwing away a part of me that makes me... well, me. But at the end of the day, when I look at myself in the mirror, I don't think I could ever live with myself if I pretended for one moment that I wasn't the stone-cold geek that I am. Yeah, I know some people make fun of me when I wear my t-shirt that has a crossover of My Little Pony and Sailor Moon. And I'm well aware that when  some people see my strange, expensive anime figures, they probably get a little weary of me. My awesome girlfriend of almost two years even had that reaction at first. 

My penchant for geeky costumes doesn't help either.
But honestly, to give off anything other than that impression would just be a sham. And the funny thing is, despite what Kangaroo said, I've made some of the best friends I've ever had through my allegedly lame interests. My girlfriend is a massive anime fan and gamer, and one of the most wonderful people I've ever had the privilege of knowing. A guy from Texas I met through playing 3DS online ended up being a huge influence on me as a human being, and made me want to be a kinder, less embittered person (still working on that, really.) And a love for an obscure (in America at least) JRPG series introduced me to some of the coolest people I've ever met, who helped me unite 600 fans of the franchise on Facebook. My interests drove some people away, to be sure, but it helped introduce me to some of the most fantastic people I could've ever hoped to meet.

So what's the point of this long post? Well, ladies, gentlemen, and everything else in-between or beyond, the point is this: be true to yourself. I know, it's trite, but really think about what it means for a second. Would you rather hide part of who you are in order to make friends who wouldn't like you otherwise, or would you rather bond over mutual interests, or at least, mutual respect? Hiding that special part of you doesn't really do shit in the end, and it does more harm than good. If you're feeling down about yourself, just think for a moment. I've been bullied for what I like, lost friends for my interests, alienated family members for opinions, but you know what? I was true to myself the whole time. I love me. And if some other people don't, well, that's their right. Doesn't meant I have to make them like me. 

That should be the takeaway from this, I think. Just because other people don't like what you like, and try to make you feel less cool for liking it, doesn't mean you have to change what you like for them. Nor does it mean you have to always like the same thing, either. Ultimately, you should think long and heard (hurr-durr) about yourself. What do you like? What makes you smile? What makes you feel bad? Good? Tepid? Think about these things, then base your life around them. Structure yourself based upon your preferences, not caring what other people think. Because if something makes you truly happy, then you'd be a fool to completely shut it out of your life.

Why would I want to shut out going broke for a Madoka statue?
And honestly, it's thanks to Kangaroo that I realize that now. The reason that I am who I am today, with people who I care about and who care about me, with a small but incredibly supportive following online... the reason is that I learned to be happy with who I am, and what I like. And I hope you can too.

I'm the Atlanta Fried Critic, telling you to take it easy, and to love you for who you are, not what others want you to be.


  1. I have just installed iStripper, so I can have the hottest virtual strippers on my desktop.


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