“Genius… is the capacity to see ten things where the ordinary man sees one” – Ezra Pound
When I was about seven years old, I was a huge fan of the Power Rangers. I wanted to be one when I grew up, I was completely in love with the Red Ranger, and always hated the pink one for being the only female ranger with a skirt. I never understood why Trini didn’t have a female outfit, as in my eyes she was the most amazing ranger because she wore my favourite colour.
Anyway, point of this intro is that we used to play pretend a lot at my elementary school.
…Or would that be junior high? I never understood the American school system very well, because it’s so different from ours.
We start going to kindergarten when we are four, move on to what we call “Basics School” at six/seven, where we leave when we are about twelve. After that we go to high school for either four, five or six years depending on our academic skills, and then follows college or any other post-high school form of education. Or work. Or both.
That’s our educational system in a nutshell.
Now back to the Basics School-period of me, when me and my Power Ranger-loving classmates used to play we were our heroes in the school yard during breaks. Usually, one kid would start the game and be the “leader”, so if anyone wanted to join in, they had to ask him/her.
Here’s what happened when I tried joining in versus when I was the “leader”:
- I ask to join in and they tell me they’ve already filled the parts of the two female Power Rangers, so there’s no spot for me. I get the option to join in as a clay man, but really, nobody wants that, so they just exclude me from the game.
- I start my own game and let everyone join in who wants to. If there’s no female characters left to play, or no more favourite colours of rangers, I simply make some more up. No more blue, red, black or green? How about playing a made-up Orange Power Ranger, or a purple one (I remember this one becoming a hit among my classmates, how come they never had one on the show?)?
Are you a female and want to have an imaginary ranger outfit with skirt? Sure! I’ll feign you have one, as long as you do the same for me.
This led to two things, eventually. Firstly, I stopped joining in and kept creating my own team of kids running around pretending to be amazing at martial arts, and imagining they’re wearing all colours of the rainbow.
And secondly, every other kid stopped playing with the former groups and joined mine, even the former “leaders”.
My point is that sometimes I feel lost as a grown up. I think back to my childhood and see nothing but the mistakes I made, thinking even as a child I was a screw-up.
But a few days ago this thought suddenly popped up in my head, this forgotten memory of me standing in the shadows of the trees surrounding our school yard, not allowed to join in on the game.
I felt lonely and excluded, because after they gave me their first ‘no, we have two girls already’, they simply turned around and continued, not for a moment thinking about my hurt feelings.
And what did I do? I didn’t cry, nor did I tell on them, nor did I make the teachers force them to let me join in (as some other kids did).
Instead I started my own game and let everyone join in. Yes, even the ones that would exclude me from their Power Rangers Play Pretend. I did it not out of spite or to prove my point, but because I hate being left out and didn’t want to make anyone else feel like that. I just wanted everyone to have a good time.
So even at the age of seven, I did things my way. Twenty-two years ago, I was already on a different track than most of my classmates were, even if I didn’t realise it.
Now I’m twenty-nine and I still do things differently than most others, even if most of the time I wonder if what I’m doing is what I should be doing.
But then I remembered this, and now I know I am doing okay. I’m fine. I’ve always been a misfit, and I probably always will. It’s not a mistake to be different, it’s not wrong at all to be yourself. I guess the Power Rangers really did teach me that in the end.
And that seven year old girl is still part of me, you know. Sometimes I forget she is there, but she never leaves. She’s simply coming up with more ways to colour our world and become anything but ordinary.