Pokemon came out on TV in Canada when I was in high school. I’ll admit that I liked the show and watched it everyday, but I might not have admitted it to you back then. As with a lot of “things below my age” I was somewhat ashamed of my enjoyment in the show. This was true of other cartoons I watched including Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and Sailor Moon. But I liked the shows. They gave me half hours of escapism from the lousiness that was high school and daily life. I NEEDED these shows to keep myself sane, to get through the days, the weeks, the years.
But at the back of my mind - and when anyone else was around - I was ashamed of my love for cartoons.
It was with extreme reluctance that I set up my Pokemon Go account. I downloaded it “just to see what it was like”, even though my husband didn’t care one way or another and no one else was around. I played it “just to see if it’s any fun, you know, not because I’m actually interested. I just want to see what everyone’s talking about”.
The first time I went outside to play - I didn’t have a data plan for my iPad (my only tablet device) so I had to play in places that had wifi, which meant my house and the nearby community centre - I imagined people were looking down their noses at me, criticizing my decision to play a ‘child’s’ game. While one guy with a young kid looked at me funny no one else even noticed I was there, or cared. Still, I felt like a looser.
When I turn on the app the cartoon theme song plays in my head: “I want to be the very best, like no one ever was…”
I went to another wifi spot with my husband, but the connection was spotty and it drove him nuts that I couldn’t play the game properly, despite obviously wanting to. So we went to the mall and I got a data plan. I spent the next few hours running all over the place, getting pokestops and catching a ton of new pokemon.
A few days ago I went back to the community centre because it’s got several nearby pokestops. I used a lucky egg, which gave me 30 minutes of double the xp. During that time I hatched 2 eggs (near hatching when I started), evolved and caught several pokemon, and hit those pokestops several times. I had so much fun. And I didn’t feel bad for running around like a lunatic. I didn’t care what others thought. I HAD FUN. And isn’t that what life’s about? Enjoying ourselves? Doing things that make us happy?
That evening I saw this video by the School of Life on Imposter Syndrome:
And it struck me: the people who point fingers and say I shouldn’t do things ‘because of my age’ do things they’re ashamed of too. They just make themselves feel better by harassing others so we stop enjoying the things we’re doing.
You know what? I’m sick and tired of letting other people - people I don’t care about, people I don’t know, dictate what I can and can’t do, what I can and can’t like, what makes me happy and what makes me ashamed. I am an adult, whether I like so called childish things or not.
Who are they to tell me I can’t read YA novels if I enjoy them? Who are they to tell me I’m too old to watch cartoons if they bring me joy? Who are they to tell me I’m stupid for playing a kids game if that game gets me outside, exercising without thinking of it as exercise and feeling generally ecstatic? Who are they to tell me I’m not a fan just because my way of enjoying something is different from theirs? Why should their opinion of me matter?
Oddly, in most things it doesn’t for me. I’ve reached an age where I generally don’t care what others think of me anymore. I have my own opinions on things and I don’t need others’. But this game took me back to my youth, when wanting to fit in was more important than accepting who I was and just being me.
I like myself. I’m proud of who I’ve become. And I’m done with feeling ashamed for liking the things I like.
Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’ve got to go out and Catch ‘em All!