June 8, 2011

passion + confidence = happiness

It's no secret that I play Dungeons & Dragons. I don't try to hide it.

Some people give me the skeptical eye, the you must be kidding look. When I told my sister we'd be playing D&D at my dad's house this past weekend, she looked at me point blank: "Doesn't that have something to do with Satan?" No dear sister. It doesn't. She resigns to calling me a nerd.

I was never the sort of person to hide what I was passionate about. Throughout high school, people thought I was a little strange. I was. I didn't fit the social norm. I liked art, text-based RPGs, test-taking, children's books, and video games. I didn't care for football. I didn't want to go to prom. I was that kid, the one that sat out at the "fun" parties and played fifteenth level Tetris on my phone.

When I went to college, it was liberating. I wasn't held to any sort of standard. I could wear my jacket with the Triforce emblazoned on the back and get compliments. I could wear my short shorts and tube socks and get whistles from the nerdy bunch. I think that's what attracted my husband in the first place: tube socks. Don't knock 'em. I spent my freshman year playing through Ocarina of Time and learning Japanese. I made friends. I started playing Magic: The Gathering. I joined computer club (though, here I'll admit, that was because my would-be husband was the president, and he has a rocking beard).

My family supported me in a she'll-change-her-mind-and-turn-into-a-normal-person-someday attitude. That was okay. I believed in myself. I trusted myself. I knew that if I wanted to achieve my dreams, I would have to face that sort of external doubt. I would have to make it on my own. I embraced it. I went to college for a creative writing degree and not one professor told me that I would make it as a writer. They all said that fantasy fiction wasn't a legitimate pursuit. They read my work and nodded their heads in the same way my parents did. They all believed that I would see the unquestionable truth, that literary fiction was the only sort of writing worth a damn. But I didn't listen. I believed that what I was writing was good (it wasn't), and that I would be a best-selling novelist by age twenty-five (still working on that).

But through all that, by embracing my inner nerd, by being myself, I have a life that I'm proud of. My husband supports my writing more willingly than I could have ever hoped for. I spend my day sitting in front of a computer, churning out stories. What could be more awesome that living out your dream? All because I believed in myself and didn't bow down to doubting nose-snubbers.

Everyone should believe in themselves. You should believe that someday, you will achieve your dreams. You should trust yourself and be confident with who you are. I'm not ashamed to say I run a Dungeons & Dragons campaign every Thursday night. I'm not ashamed to admit that I read license plates and think of sayings to fit the letters (NFR: National Federation of Robots; ODG: Odin Done Goofed; SMEF: Someone Made Edna Fart... mature, I know). I'm not ashamed to say that I have several Buddha statues scattered around my house, that I study archaic languages, that my worst nightmares involve dinosaurs and tornadoes, sometimes at the same time. I am not ashamed to admit that I am a writer, nor that I aim to self-publish.

When you're true to yourself, there's nothing to be ashamed of. Sometimes, I need reminding of that fact. I have to remember that nothing matters more than my own happiness, and that I should pursue it with a fervor. I'm happiest when I'm myself, when I hold nothing back. So, I'll share what I am passionate about, both here on the blog and within my fiction. Because, I think that if I'm happy being myself, and I love who I am, then so will everyone else.

What sort of things make you happy? What are you passionate about? What are your funky quirks?

Have a spectacular day, ladies and gents.


  1. I, um, dress up in overly researched historical clothing and go play outside? Yeah, weird quirks and the refusal to bend to normal is what makes people interesting. And fun. And worth getting to know!

  2. I think that's extremely cool. That's what I love so much about your blog, all the posts about historical dress and then your own period correct pieces. Like I said before, you inspired me to sew more, and as a result I made two renaissance costumes for a faire, that, in my opinion, looked a hell of a lot better than the costumes for rent. ;)

  3. I was a nerd for years, but that was back in the day before geeks were cool. I would like to believe that it was people like me who ushered in Geek Chic.

    I love Star Trek and D&D and can't get enough documentaries. I watch documentaries about astrophysics in the evenings to wind down before bed.

    I collect smartass T-Shirts, Like "I Before E Except After C...Weird." That stuff. I totally dig kids movies. Kung Fu Panda and The Incredibles are like the best movies...EVER! Maybe I should be more grown up. I used to think I needed to dress a certain way and act a certain way, and I was miserable. Now that I am me? Life is truly awesome.

    Thanks for a fantabulous post.

  4. Great post! This stuff is important, especially as a writer. Don't limit yourself.

    "Doesn't that have something to do with Satan?"- lol!

  5. I assume by run a D&D game, you DM? If so, fellow game master writer here!

    It took me a long time to reach the same conclusions you have, and I may still be learning. But I'm writing and blogging and having a blast, and that's more important!

    (I'm also seriously considering self-publishing.)

  6. Thanks for the comment Kristen <3

    I had that brief stint of feeling like I had to dress and act a certain way after I "grew up" and wasn't a teenager anymore. It was a very brief stint. I was happier wearing tees referencing video games and carrying a backpack around campus with Harry Potter pins all over it than I was carrying a bedazzled purse and wearing cropped cardigans and heels.

    I don't censor myself anymore, and it's so liberating. And if it's any consolation, I think you are rocking the Geek Chic. ;)

  7. Sara, I know! Close-minded sister of mine. It's definitely important not to limit yourself. If you're open to the infinite number of possibilities out there, you'll grow as a person, and as a writer.

    Patrick, yes. I'm a DMing fiend. :)

    Thanks for the comments!

  8. Great post! I love a whole lot of nerdy things too, like writing-based RPGs (a My Little Pony RPG is what got me into writing... in college :P) and WoW, and X-men (and X-men/MLP crossover RPs) and Invader ZIM (<3 GIR). I also love totally "normal" things like fancy high-heeled shoes and short skirts and movies about prom. The comic book store guys always look at me funny when I come in looking for Dark Tower comics wearing three-inch heels ^_^

  9. Lani Wendt Young6/08/2011 03:24:00 PM

    This is why I am falling in love with Twitter - i get to 'discover' other 'weird' unusual and fascinating people who are not afraid to be embrace their passions - and their blogs. Love this post.
    I group words into numbered sequences of 3 in my mind. I love playing Diablo and i wish they would hurry up and invent the next game. I would rather read then talk to people. I really want to own a pair of thigh high black leather boots - but I know i will be too embarassed to wear them in public. I love to bake, but only food that I like. The X-men are my fantasy friends.
    Whew - felt good to get that all out there! Thanks for a great read.

  10. *looks down at tshirt that says "the only winning move is not to play*


    I don't know how to describe my quirks exactly. Sometimes I do things just because people don't expect it. Like installing a disco ball in a classroom and dancing on the table when there was a lull in class (did I mention I was the teacher and it was an adult computer class and I was dressed very professionally...). Or being a bit of a geek when it comes to video games and scifi stuff.

    But I don't really fit into a category. I love and get excited about a lot of things. A lot of things that don't always match up in other people's minds.

    So maybe that's my quirk. That I am hard to define.

    Thanks for a post reassuring us that whatever the quirk, it's who we are, and that is a great thing.

  11. I used to play WoW religiously. Elemental Shaman ftw.

    When I was still in college, I was the only girl that shopped at the hole-in-the-wall gaming stores and showed up for MTG tournaments or D&D events. Most of the time, the people there thought I stumbled upon the place on accident... up until I whipped out my NES controller wallet and bought a set of dice and a pack of miniatures. It was always funny to see their faces. :) Thanks for the comment!

  12. Good lord, you all are commenting faster than I can reply. :)

    Lani, I TOTALLY group things into fours! I would also love to wear cap-sleeve corsets and oxfords, but they don't really fit into my current wardrobe ;)

    Wosushi, thanks so much for the comment! I think that being undefinable is a great thing. As is disco-ball, table dancing. ;)

  13. I was happier wearing tees referencing video games

    Heehee, I saw a tee over the weekend: Pac-Man surrounded by all four ghosts, captioned "EPIC FAIL." I pointed it out to Daughter Dearest, age 21; she loved it.

    When I was in college, it was no big deal to have several female-types at the D&D table. OK, it was an engineering college, so even the women were predisposed to be nerdy. I haven't played D&D in years, but given a handful of players I could be ready to go in about an hour. Right now, I'm settling for writing a story about two of my favorite characters that also appeared in a novel I wrote in college.

    These days, I "fix" song lyrics to inject the proper amount of lewdness into my day. And of course I spend a lot of time writing…

  14. Not a D&D girl, but do have an Angry Birds addiction I can't quell. I also think in prose a lot, as though I were still writing.

    I have a total fascination with serial killers. And I also have a huge love for cheesy boyband music. Strange combination, huh?

  15. FARfetched, I went to a primarily agricultural college. It was right next to a farm full of cow poo. You were more likely to see someone wearing a John Deere tee over a Pokemon tee.

    Stacy, I was addicted to Angry Birds until I beat it. Many sleepless nights devoted to that game. ;) You must love Dexter if you love serial killers. That show is the bomb-diggity.

    Thanks for the comments!

  16. Not a D&D fan, but I am a major fan of people who aren't afraid to be themselves. When I think of my favorite friends, none are the cookie-cutter average type. Each is unique. I love quirky, intelligent types.

  17. I've found that, as I get older (okay, I'm over 35, but I'm not admitting to more than that), I begin to like myself more all the time. I know myself far better than I did when I was 20, and I feel I've accomplished a good number of things. I'm simply more comfortable being who I am -- wearing jeans and reading anything by C. S. Lewis. Frankly, I'm too old to bother catering to other peoples' opinions - it's just a waste of time. And like "they" say, "what other people think of me is none of my business".

  18. I get so tired of people telling me to act my age (50). Why should I! My entire life has been blessed with other people thinking I'm "unusual" just because I don't think like them.
    I'm unusual, I get peoples attentions, and most will never forget me.
    Everyone might think I'm strange, but I also touch their hearts, so strange I'll stay.

    One of our submarines is missing! (I'm Canadian)

  19. You gave me a smile today. I'm not a D & D person, but that's just because I never knew anybody who was into it. I've always thought it looked sort of neat. For a lot of your story, you could have been talking to me. I was always that creepy kid in school who knew strange facts about weird stuff.

    Weird stuff is still my freak flag. I like true crime, horror, odd facts like Wild Bill Hickok was gong blind from venereal disease when he was murdered, and vintage stuff.

  20. Caroline, I think if more people could be comfortable with themselves, this world would be much more interesting.

    Wendy, I like that saying "what other people think of me is none of my business", but I could never live by it. Even though I love who I am, I'm still a people pleaser. I like to think of people liking me, but I've gotten to the point where I don't need everyone to like me, just the people who matter.

    Darcy, My opinion: stay unusual. Act like you're 12 if you want to. I still do. :)

    catierhodes, Glad you enjoyed the post! :D I was lucky enough to meet people in college who played D&D, my would-be husband included. I think the outcast teens are the ones who grow up to be the most happy, or maybe that's just what I tell myself. ;)

    Thanks for the comments everyone! :D