In a couple of months I will be moving away from home for university studies on campus. This makes me both a little nervous and excited at the same time, as it is the next step in my life. Travelling to a completely new city where I nearly do not know anyone around me means my life will essentially start from scratch.
This has got me to think about how it will be when making friends all over again. My hobbies are video games and anime, both of which are not exactly commonplace here in Sweden. Well, the former is to a certain degree and is undoubtedly growing more popular with each new day. In the case of anime, however, you will be lucky if another person merely knows it as this “weird and creepy animated thing from Japan”.
I was very lucky in this regard when growing up as there was always at least one person who liked video games, especially during the younger years. Despite of this I somehow developed a slight fear of telling others I enjoyed video games. Compared to more common hobbies like music, it was never really spoken of in the classrooms and the few times it was mentioned no others than I would reply. This only reinforced the idea that video games as a hobby was uncommon and eventually I stopped trying to talk about it completely outside of the established cliques.
As time passed there were still those around me who liked video games, yet I was no longer connected to them. In fact, it would even feel awkward speaking about video games. The type of games I used to play were not the ones others would. When others briefly talked about the most popular titles for the time being – mostly meaning The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim, Amnesia: The Dark Descent, Call of Duty, Leagues of Legend and such – I would instead sit and think about smaller titles such as Recettear: An Item Shop’s Tale, Wario Land: The Shake Dimension or Crysis.
Whenever communication was established it tended to end up uncomfortable as I had not played the games they spoke of, but knew very well what they were, while they had no clue about what I played. And since I was more knowledgeable about video games in general there was never a sense of belonging.
Regarding anime, however, the situation was a little bit different: there was never anyone around me who truly had it as a hobby. I stumbled upon one or two who liked it in middle school, but it was more of a fun thing rather than something with an interest in. To make matters worse, whenever I said I liked anime I was always met with a skeptical look. First I had to explain what it was, then – much like with video games – feel like the only one in the whole world with such a hobby.
It is not surprising, however, as cartoons are seen as something for children. Not to mention how Japan is always seen as this weird and crazy place because of what the media portrays, leading to an inaccurate view of the country and its culture. Still, it is possible I – due to a similar experience with video games – only believed the reaction to be worse than what it actually was.
This made me worry about being judged prematurely and led me to stop mentioning anime altogether. My hobby was, simply put, only video games. The only ones who knew about anime were those who, in my eyes, felt honest and would not make a fuss out of it. In addition, throughout all of high school I was alone in liking anime.
As you can see, it is a weird tale with far too many nuances to make it justice. One small thing led to another and suddenly it became difficult to talk to others about my hobbies, preconceived or not. It was not necessarily a case of being scared or isolated, but that there would be nothing to be gained.
Reading through this text I realize it makes it seem like I have had a gloomy and lonely life. Naturally this is not true at all; I have had lots of fun. There are just times I wish I had someone to share my hobbies with on a more common basis.