Growing up, I was always one of the weird kids.

Maybe it was the video games. Maybe it was the anime. Maybe it was the fact I think a little differently from others.

Perhaps it stemmed from a lack of confidence.

I’ll never forget the moment when I put on my first pair of glasses.

“You look like a nerd!” my brother laughed.

Little brothers are great confidence boosters.

I didn’t start caring about my appearance until the beginning of high school, when the braces came off and I started wearing contact lenses and makeup. It felt like a metamorphosis of some sort, both inward and outward, and it was much needed.

But in elementary and middle school, I was an obnoxious and strange kid. It probably didn’t help to have not-so-trendy obsessions or interests, specifically those that aren’t socially acceptable once you reach a certain age.

Take Nintendo, for example. All the cool kids had a portable Nintendo DS when I was in elementary school. There was nothing like playing Mario Party with your friends on the bus ride home.

And then middle school hit. Suddenly it was childish to be trading Pokemon before class started. We were “too old” for Mario Kart and “too mature” for the family marketed company altogether.

All the boys flocked to XBox and PlayStation because those were the platforms teen guys used. All the girls, well, there weren’t a lot of gamer girls at my school. So already, I stuck out like a sore thumb.

Even Whitley, my childhood best friend, decided it was time to move on from her Nintendo phase. She gave me one of her Pokemon games and some of her cards and sold the rest of her collection.

I tried to fit in with the crowd. I stopped taking my games to school, and I pretended I thought they were lame. But it wasn’t effective. My little brother kept drawing me back to the cringe culture I so badly wanted to shed.

It wasn’t just Nintendo –– it was the sum of our childhood interests. After all, most kids stop playing with their toys after a certain age. What happens when a child doesn’t get to that point? Do they ever really grow up?

I remember warning him when he got into middle school he would be bullied for it. He should be prepared, I advised.

Something in him must have wanted to prove me wrong, though, because he never went through the “I’m too old for his” phase.

One of the traits I love most about Myles is his authenticity. I’ve never seen him phased by peer pressure, and it’s something I admire most about him. Perhaps that’s why I decided it was OK to show my real face to others.

Near the end of high school, I started acting like myself again. I wasn’t afraid to tell classmates about my favorite Japanese animation studio –– Studio Ghibli, which is now owned by Disney –– or my obsession with The Legend of Zelda. (Obsession is probably an understatement.)

Yeah, I was weird. I was also a three-sport athlete and had straight A’s. Weird, jock, nerd. I fit in a lot of boxes and, honestly, I’m proud of that. It helps me to relate to more people.

Oddly enough, Nintendo gaming isn’t a rare occurrence for adults my age now. I have several friends who own a Switch and play on it regularly.

And Whitley did ask for her Pokemon game back eventually. The franchise is cool as a kid, taboo as a teen and nostalgic as a young adult. It’s nice to know my interest aged like a fine wine.

Flash forward to the present day, and I’m still weird. Anyone who knows me well enough will tell you that. I embrace being different, though. After all, some of the weirdest people are the same ones who have built America’s future in one way or another.

And that’s actually pretty cool.