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Bridges to the Middle

Bryan R. Brown | 8 Apr 2008 12:18
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But that's just defining the problem. Let's instead talk about how we can solve it. I was a scrawny kid, but I liked team sports and played several of them. I was the slowest kid on my soccer team. I tried out for the neighborhood basketball team and, while I was applauded for my enthusiasm, didn't make the cut because I was uncoordinated and couldn't make baskets. The little league baseball team I played on for three years gave me the "Best Sportsmanship" award each year, which translates to the "Worst Player that Plays Anyway" award. The mix of self-pity and rejection pushed me firmly into the geek group in my school,and I was proud of that membership. I spent lunches in libraries playing games and reading. We put down the jocks, just as they made fun of us. For years, I only remained friends with a select group of other geeks.

As an adult, I held onto the base assumptions I had made about myself and didn't expand much beyond my high school gaming and sci-fi hobbies. I never even noticed the limitations I had placed on myself. Then, one day I realized I had no friends in my neighborhood and wondered why. After some soul searching, I recognized I had given up a part of myself as a kid. It's silly to conform to a stereotype based on a fear of rejection.

I accepted that I still liked team sports and began to watch and participate again. I joined a recreational softball team. And, if they gave awards, I probably would have won "Best Sportsmanship" again. I loved playing, but I was still awful. But this time it didn't matter, because I could see that we all liked the same things about the sport, regardless of our individual abilities. As I continued to play ball and enjoy other sports, I found I satisfied the same needs I did when I played games.

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Now, I'm a happier person. I have geek friends, and I have athletic friends, and I enjoy being with each group. I've even found places where these groups' interests overlap, and they're all making friends now. I enjoy meeting people more than I had before because I'm more likely to find common ground.

Not only that but, I've found my new outlook has affected my friends. My gamer sweetheart now asks for updates on the Jazz when they play, even in the middle of tabletop games. I share sports scores with gamer friends and recent gaming experiences with sporty friends. My children are learning to have fun at sporting events and at gaming nights. I have built a bridge between both lifestyles, and I am a better person for it. I may never realize my dream of being that barbarian all-star power forward, but by accepting both my competing interests, I've made more friends, and had a lot more fun.

Recently married to his game group sweetheart, Bryan can be found participating in games of all sorts, cheering for the "wrong" team in his hometown, cooking up a storm, or playing with his two boys.

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