Being the child of two nerds gave me a major advantage in life, as I have learned and experienced things others did not get to. I have been attending cons since I was about five years old, which meant “summer vacation” was synonymous with “San Diego Comic-Con”. I received my first computer (built by my father) when I was one. The first game I ever played was “The Bear Game”, which was number 1 on my old DOS. I still remember that gray on black text with fond memories. My life lessons started there, and only increased as I got older.
One of the very first things I learned was taught to me by Commander Keen, a series of space games created by idSoftware in the early 1990s. Yes, I am a 90s kid. (It really does explain a lot.) No matter how much knowledge you already have, you can still stand to learn new things.
In the case of little Billy Blaze, these things included Omnispeak and the Standard Galactic Alphabet. For me, this meant not being such a “know-it-all” child. I had to learn to slow down, and really listen to what people were telling me. Just because I knew a lot about dinosaurs does not mean I should not listen to my grandpa telling me that there really is no evidence to prove the dilophosaurus actually spit the venomous mucus that I thought was so cool.
I am more of a Marvel girl, but DC characters really have taught me a lot. Batman, for example, illustrated (see what I did there? Ha.) the fact that It’s not who you are underneath, but you do, that defines you. I grew up quite poor, and lived in shoddy (to put it politely) conditions until I was nine years old. I split my time between my father and stepmother, and my biological mother and stepfather. This was the way it was for four years. I used to get really jealous over the other students around me, and would cry when I saw happy families joking and laughing together. Having a speech impediment (I stutter) that is extremely severe at times increased my sense of alienation. When I was in first grade, I discovered Batman. This made all the difference in my outlook on things. It didn’t matter that I stuttered, had crooked teeth, or came from a broken home. What mattered the most was what I did with the opportunities presented to me. I sought to excel academically, as well as help others do the same Joining the G.A.T.E. program in 1st grade was a step in that right direction. I started down that path, and never looked back.
I will never be able to forget the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, and that has nothing to do with the fact that my husband likes to play the theme song on repeat as background music for hours on end. These turtles, with the help of April (That crush has never died out), showed me that you are not entitled to anything. You have to work hard to succeed.
Now, I never had to deal with getting kidnapped by power-hungry supervillains or forced to move all the time because crazy martial arts fights ruined my place of residence. However, April showed me that being totally focused on finding that perfect story is the only thing that will help you to truly excel in your career. Replace ‘story’ with goal and ‘career’ with life, and you’ve got the perfect illustration of the main life lesson. The turtles fought for their family, and strove to defeat evil. Without focusing on their mutual needs and wants, they never would have been the successful team they proved to be. Hard work and dedication make up the foundation of achievement.
As my beloved Captain stated, “It may have been the losing side. Still not convinced it was the wrong one.” I have been a Browncoat since I first saw Firefly at a fandom party when I was fourteen. There are A LOT of great lessons to be had in that series, and it has taught me to strongly dislike Fox. Among these great lessons, though is the fact that you should not look for “help on high. That’s a long wait for a train don’t come.” Friends, loved ones, and even trusted professionals can form a tight security blanket for when you become overwhelmed by the myriad trials and tribulations life just oh so loves to throw at people. They can only help you so much, though. In the end, you are really on your own when it comes to finding the clarity, strength, and success that you need to navigate through the asteroid belt that is life. Shepherd Book also showed me that you will go to a special hell if you talk at a movie theater. Best be mindful of that.
Finally, Sherlock taught me (among other things) a bit about fashion. Not only is it important to wear a long coat and your signature hat, but it is also important to keep appearance in mind. Cab drivers will not stop for you if you are drenched in blood and carrying a harpoon. When going to events, job interviews, or even just out in public, it is always important to dress to your audience. Wear appropriate clothing, and remember that it is better to be over-dressed than under-dressed. Adding a pop of color is a good idea but, while red IS a power color, skip the blood.
Growing up in fandom has taught me a great many things, some I would rather not be aware of (Furries exist) and some I am grateful for (I just wrote a full article on that). These are only five of those lessons, but they are important ones.