You know that one thing you really like but are afraid to admit for fear of judgement? We all have something (or many things) we enjoy but are afraid to openly embrace for fear of others knocking us down for it.
While we’ve discussed multiple times the problems with gatekeeping, or just downright hating others’ enjoyment of something due to hatred of the catalyst, or even pure disdain for others’ happiness, the main thing to keep in mind is your own personal happiness. The funny thing is I suffer from fear of judgement heavily and I’m basically telling you to do something I cannot do myself.
Now my likes aren’t as taboo as some other hobbies or interests could be, but it is still difficult for me to go out and state “wowee oh boy guys do I love this thing” simply due to my personal anxiety and odd need to have some sort of validation from others.
Openly admitting this is something that is hard for me, but easier to just type now, publish later, and maybe get some nice tweets or comments from friends. I wouldn’t be surprised if this was the case for many people, considering the wonders of anonymity online, but to stay on topic I want to focus on my “guilty pleasure,” or rather lack thereof.
Let’s start with what a guilty pleasure is: something you enjoy that for the most part you shouldn’t. Rather vague, but it could be put simply as you enjoyed a movie that was critically panned as terrible, or you’re a 30 year-old male who enjoys the latest teen boy-band’s music, or you actually like Nickelback. In a way these things are taboo; after all the teen boy-bands are marketed to younger girls and the movie that was terrible seems to be terrible so why did you enjoy it? And Nickelback is a polarizing band to most people, so do you have terrible taste? Is that it?
The idea I want you to embrace is that is these things aren’t your “guilty pleasure.” No, they are just one of your many “pleasures.” I feel that if you start looking at them this way you’ll be able to openly embrace them and you’ll worry less about that nagging voice telling you that you’re wrong for enjoying them.
A good example for me would be wrestling. I talked a bit about this here, although I didn’t go into much detail the whole taboo mindset I had. When I was younger I desperately tried to fit in because I didn’t want to be seen as the nerdy kid I saw on TV. I wanted to have friends and be the center of attention like most protagonists (either in general or by the end of the story where the nerd triumphed). I don’t like looking back on my time in school, especially elementary to middle school, mainly because most of what I attempted to be was defined by other people, not myself.
In elementary school we moved right before 3rd grade, which meant going to a new school. I went from a smaller school to a medium-sized one, and this was the first time I started to feel like I didn’t fit in and desperately tried to fit molds of others. I remember opening a conversation about Pokemon to see who else played (because I fucking loved Pokemon, and I still do mind you) and was immediately told by the other kid it was “gay” and “you should play Yu-Gi-Oh.”
Now this isn’t a knock on Yu-Gi-Oh; if it weren’t for that I wouldn’t be as in love with Magic as I am today I think. My point being I abandoned Pokemon immediately to fit in with the other kids. Some might say it was the right move (sink or swim situation), but I’d like to think it was a stupid choice. I fucking loved Pokemon and the moment someone said something ill about it, something that would put me in a negative light, I dropped it like hot potato that was burning through my skin.
Around this time I also loved wrestling, but it wasn’t something I openly talked about too often. I did make a friend in 5th grade who also liked it, but come middle school that friendship faded and I had newer friends who asked why I liked that “fake” stuff and boom – stopped watching for 13 or 14 years. I just couldn’t stand not fitting in and that still haunts me to this day.
Now that I’m older and am not trying nearly as hard to fit in, I’ve begun delving back into the taboo things of my childhood and finding happiness and joy from them. Freakshow and I have a wrestling booking competition to see who’s fantasy booking is better, I play Pokemon rather regularly (and have Pokemon plushies in the back window of my car), and I have a Green Arrow hood ornament. All these things I was scared to talk about when I was younger but can’t stop myself from talking about now. I like them, I try not to care what others say about them, and I try to form my own opinions on them before seeking other opinions (i.e. critics) to determine if I’m missing a glaring detail or something to that extent.
But unfortunately, at the end of the day, fear of judgement still haunts me at every corner. I don’t really openly talk about wrestling on my Facebook page. I’ve shared 2 or 3 things on there and gotten either likes, a few comments from friends who watch asking when I started watching, or worst-case scenario I’ve gotten neither. If someone were to jump on me about it I have an arsenal of retorts to their arguments, and if they can somehow convince me my arguments are not valid, then I can always fall back on the fact that I just enjoy watching it.
Because that’s all it really boils down to: why change what you enjoy for someone else’s definition of enjoyment?