In only a couple of days I’ll be moving away from home due to university studies on campus. Considering this being my next step in life, it fills me both with an equal amount of excitement as anxiety. After all, I will live in a completely new city where I won’t know anyone besides myself. In other words, you could say my life will essentially start over from the beginning.
This has unsurprisingly led me to think about the process of making new friends all over again. When you are younger, the act of befriending someone is something that happens naturally whether you want it or not. However, as you grow older, you become more conscious of others. Not to mention how university, unlike previous school grades, doesn’t actively have the same type of lessons that forces you together with people. This is what troubles me, as it’d feel absolutely terrible – however much I enjoy being alone – if I weren’t able to find anyone to talk to.
But how would I be able to connect with others? As you may know, my hobbies are playing video games and watching anime. These are not exactly commonplace hobbies in Sweden, for better or for worse. Although video games are slowly growing more popular and socially accepted with each new day, it still has a long way to go before it can rival music or sports. Not to mention anime, which requires luck to actually be known in the first place – and even more if it’s to be other than “That (occasionally weird) animated thing from Japan”.
When I grew up I was lucky as there was always at least one person around me who liked video games, especially during the younger years. We were great friends and had lots of fun doing different activities together in addition to playing video games. It was a very fun time.
Yet, this did not stop me from developing a sense of fear of telling others I liked video games. The reason for this is how video games were portrayed when I was young. While it may only have been 15 or so years ago, it was a very different time and video games were seen as a nerdy – generally male – hobby. Furthermore, it was still a very niche hobby and never really spoken of in school as opposed music. The few times it was brought up I was normally the only one replying, only reinforcing the idea that video games were something uncommon. Eventually I stopped trying to talk about it outside of the established cliques, as there was no point to it.
As time passed and school grades were climbed, there were still those around me who liked video games – yet I no longer felt connected to them. In fact, it could even feel awkward speaking about video games during upper secondary school. The idea of it being weird and pointless that had been planted in my earlier years, had by now evolved into a vicious flower. This was ironic, as at this time video games had been gaining popularity much thanks to the success of Nintendo DS, Nintendo Wii and Xbox 360.
The reason I no longer felt connected was because I tended to play different types of games than others would. Whereas others would speak of the most popular titles at the time – such as The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim or League of Legends – I’d instead sit for myself and think about more uncommon titles such as Recettear: An Item Shop’s Tale or Crysis. Whenever communication was established it ended up uncomfortable as I hadn’t played the games they spoke of – yet knew very well what they were – whereas they had no clue about what I played. And since I was more knowledgeable about video games in general, there was never really a sense of belonging.
On the other hand we have anime, which was an entirely different situation from the get-go: there was never anyone around me who truly had it has a hobby. I managed to stumble upon one or two who liked it; however it was nothing more than a fun thing they eventually grew away from. Anime was something rare and often had to be explained to others. Not to mention the social stigma cartoons had – and still has. This made me feel like the only one in the world with anime as a hobby.
To make matters worse, whenever anime or Japanese culture was given attention in media it was always the “weird” side being showcased. It has led to a skewed view of the country and its culture, making it a tad uncomfortable to be open about having it as a hobby.
As you can see, one thing has led to another and has made it difficult for me to talk about my hobbies – unless this is all delusional conjecture on my part. There merely isn’t anything to be gained being open about it in comparison to what could potentially be lost.
It’s not as if I have lived a depressing and lonely life, not at all. That is as far from the truth you can get; I’ve had tons of fun. There are just times I wish I had someone to truly share my hobbies with on a more common basis. Hopefully I will find that person soon.