Colloquium: Remembering Our Precious Delusions

source: pixiv

“I whispered aloud, ‘If only I could be Hotaru Tomoe, then I could destroy the world.'”

AJtheFourth: When one is confined to a specific space, a specific location, or has specific constraints put upon them, they tend to find progressively more creative outlets of expressing their emotions. Adolescence is but a flash in the pan; however, it weighs heavily on one who goes through it, effectively capturing them. While coming to terms with the various changes that adolescence can bring about, one tends to focus inward sometimes enveloping themselves in a fantasy.

Then, there are those times when the fantasy gets the better of one, and spills outward, projecting a persona that makes one feel instantly powerful and superior, hiding the fact that all the while, one may feel quite the opposite.

This is chuunibyou.

Confinement and constraint, in addition to the inability to do much of anything, neatly fueled my personal delusions of grandeur during junior high school. Although having “weak, underdeveloped lungs” sounds like a made-up anime illness, it unfortunately is not, and when I caught pneumonia in junior high, it was quite serious. However, being trapped in the house with precious little to do did have one large benefit: I could read to my heart’s content. Yes, perhaps I wouldn’t remember it, due to fevers and the like, but I could read uninterrupted for hours, and this had a major impact on my perspective at the time.

It was around this time that I discovered anime and manga. More specifically, I discovered Sailor Moon, and after just one episode, perfectly airing at 5:00AM to fit my haphazard sleep schedule, I was hooked. This was only amplified by my discovery of the internet, thanks to my parents purchase of a new computer and America Online.

Yet, it was not the bubbly titular heroine Usagi Tsukino who caught my attention, but the group of outer sailor scouts lead by Haruka Tenoh, Sailor Uranus. Most importantly, touted as the most powerful of them all, was Hotaru Tomoe, Sailor Saturn.

It’s a bit painful to realize that all of the reasons that drew me towards Hotaru were ultimately self-centered. She was sickly, isolated, and socially-awkward because of it. However, as Sailor Saturn, she held the power to destroy worlds with a single dip of her weapon. In my bedroom, with stacks of books tucked under my pillows and paints scattered everywhere, I painted watercolors of Hotaru. I found myself looking out at our tiny yard with the large red maple that obstructed my view of the street and wishing that I could become Hotaru. With my warm fingers pressed against the frost-patterned windowpane, I whispered aloud, “If only I could be Hotaru Tomoe, then I could destroy the world.”

To follow were fantasies where I would save my friends, and various one-sided love interests, with my destructive powers, always at the cost of my own life to keep them safe. It was all terribly, terribly tragic.

The dreams have faded; however, Hotaru Tomoe remains one of my favorite anime characters to this day.

A_Libellule: I am only really in touch with two people from my time at secondary school, them having tracked me down following my almost successful disappearance, with all the tenaciousness of a terrier. Even then, it is likely that neither of them can remember what I was like, back when I was but a lowly first year. This is probably a good thing; as I’m certain I was quite insufferable. Unlike our two leads in the series that spurred this post on however, I never really acted out my delusions of grandeur. I certainly daydreamed, but such thoughts never leaked out into the wild.

These daydreams were born of a great many books, most of which fall squarely into the science fiction and fantasy genres. From The Bartimaeus Trilogy, through His Dark Materials, to the works of Trudi Canavan, Terry Pratchett, and Neil Gaiman. These, and others such as The Old Kingdom series, helped fuel my overactive imagination. With my head in the clouds, I dreamed of nobility; of being a Lord, Earl, or Duke extraordinaire. Able to speak any language, a tongue as sharp as the blade at my belt, and, by way of Dune, oft ducal governor of a distant planet.

Today, and whilst I may still enjoy the two genres, I most certainly do not indulge in such childish fantasies. I watch Japanese Girl Cartoons instead, and I’m not entirely certain if that’s much of an improvement.

Blackholeheart: I remember the summer of my 8th grade year my cousin came to stay with us. He was a year younger than me but unlike me he was tall (I was a late bloomer), athletic, and lived in what I thought of as a big city.  He listened to cool music, had cool clothes, and it was of vital importance to me that he look up to me.

We had a municipal pool that he expressed interest in going to so of course I told him how I went there all the time and was a total pro at the high dive. Truth was, I’d never set foot in the place as going to the creek was free and I’m terrified of heights.

After a few days of this, judgment day arrived. We were headed to the pool. The first blow to my ego landed at the check-in desk. When I tried to pay the pool fee I found out they only took exact change. The clerk had to go to the concession stand to break my tenner. I told my cousin to go on in while I waited for my change.

Ego blow two came once I had my change and headed into the locker room. Here I spotted the pool rules sign, and being oh so bright, read it over so I would know the procedure and be able to look like an old pool hand. I could hear the showers running where presumably my cousin already was so I stowed my gear and stepped into the shower room. Stark naked. With five other guys. In their swimming trunks.

Blow the third was a knockout after that battering, figuratively and very nearly literally. My cousin kept wanting to see my diving board “expertise.” Finally screwing up my courage, I climbed up, walked the plank, and at the end bounced once, twice, and slipped. SPLAT. Belly first. Needless to say I was done swimming and done trying to be the big man in front of my cousin, but we did become fast friends.

Which is good because if we hadn’t, after witnessing all that I might have had to kill him.

8C: I had quite a few embarrassing “phases” in junior high, though only twice did my delusions escape into public view. Both involved public performance; both occurred in the same middle school gymnasium.

At the beginning of seventh grade, before I’d fully solidified my grasp on social niceties and spurred on by my much more enthusiastic cousin, I decided to run for student council president. My posters were probably awful, but those are truly lost to the sands of time. What isn’t is my memory of the elaborate skit I wrote for speech day – inspired by Yu-gi-oh. And acted out with the help of three of the six people I knew at the time and was able to convince to help me that morning.

Naturally, I lost. Luckily, everyone forgot about my campaign overnight. Unfortunately, I didn’t learn.

One does not care to ac(ry

Later that year was a talent show, which came along just as I was getting into competitive yo-yoing. If you’re not familiar, it’s even more ridiculous than it sounds. In my head, I choreographed an elaborate and stunning two-minute performance (scored by that one DDR song, Drop The Bomb! So awesome, right!). The day of, the CD didn’t work, my repertoire lasted about 30 seconds, and the seats were a good 50 feet away so nobody could see shit anyway.

And that was the last dream I ever had.

vucubcaquix: You ever get the sense at the end of the day, that if you had just said that one thing, or said that one snappy line at the right moment everything would have changed? Tsuritama, which aired this past spring, even made that a point in the protagonist’s character development. Yeah, I used to do that. Not to the degree that it was a reaction to some crippling social phobia, but I would replay entire conversations in my head as I lay in my bed at night or lathered the shampoo through my hair in the morning. I’d imagine what it would be like if I had changed one line, one word… How would that have altered the exchange?

Like, what if I had said something that fundamentally altered someone’s view of the world?

As I hurtled into puberty these thoughts would get bigger, bolder, more delusional. Mrs. Ascher, that’s not how you explain algebra to these clods. Ms. Stone, Columbus didn’t discover America, it was already here! Oh yeah, Henry? If the Bible says the world is 6,000 years old, how does that explain carbon dating? If the only way into Heaven is to accept Jesus, what about the billions of people before he lived or the millions of Native Americans before meeting Columbus?

No mincing words here, in my desire to become better and instill my words with power I became a little snot. In between believing myself superior and homing in on perceived hypocrisies, I forgot that rhetoric as a skill needed to be burnished as well. What I wanted, but didn’t quite know how to do, was to be able to move men’s souls using words as my clay. To use my medium of choice to illuminate the listener to another facet of this strange human condition we exist in. No one was better equipped to do this than I, as I alone had the means to convey the fundamental truths of the universe to the unsuspecting and uninitiated. The only thing I had to do, was speak!

…oh god.

I never grew out of these delusions, have I?

Further Reading:


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18 responses to “Colloquium: Remembering Our Precious Delusions

  1. It’s nice to know that I’m not the only one who is mortified at what they did as a child. I don’t know where it was along the line that I realized how ridiculous I acted, but it happened way to late. I wonder if I’m going to look back in another ten years and feel the same way? Actually, I’d rather not think about it.

    • No, my good man, I am not satisfied.

      I want specifics. If we put ourselves on the line in this post, you gotta share in the misery! Was there anything you remember that you can think back on now and say: “Man, I was an idiot.”? Share ’em here!

      • I use to run around in the woods by my house with my BB gun pretending to be a soldier. Then I played airsoft way to seriously throughout middle school and high school. I had the whole deal: ACUs, rifles, pistols, a tactical vest and a radio. It’s even worse that I ended up being a pragmatic pacifist.

        And of course I still play airsoft to this day. I’m not as serious about it, but it’s still something I like to avoid bringing up in day-to-day conversation.

        I also went through the same phase as you described above. Except instead of outgrowing it, I just decided I needed to become smart enough to back up what I said. Now I understand my limits, but if somebody tries to argue something that I know is objectively wrong, I’ll call them out on it. How else are we going to learn if nobody ever points out our mistakes?

  2. I never physically DID much with my delusions, because I was a pretty meek kid with very low self-esteem. Most of my delusions had to do with wanting to be the larger than life heroes I saw on TV and in the movies and video games. Like, Will Smith in Men in Black? I TOTALLY wanted to be him so much. I legitimately thought archaeology and paleontology worked the way they do in Raiders of the Lost Ark and Jurassic Park, and I wanted to do that SO MUCH. I wanted to be Han Solo and fly the Millennium Falcon. I wanted to be Mario, chow down on a raccoon leaf and soar into the sky.

    But I mostly kept my delusions to myself, sadly.

  3. dliessmgg

    One little story I distinclty remember, from when I was about thirteen, fourteen? I don’t know. Back then our bike shed had even less of a lock than it has now, it just had some kind of metal loop on a hinge attached at the door that you slipped onto another piece of metal sticking out of the wall, and in some weird defiance it didn’t slip off, probably due to rust. I also liked to imagine that I had jedi powers. One morning I went to get my bike to get to school, and I don’t know if it was a gap in my memory due to sleepyness or a gust of wind, but I seemed to remember that the door had opened when I mentally told it to open. My critical eye quickly got the better of me and I could never repeat it, but for a few minutes I really thought that I had jedi powers.

  4. Reading this brought back some memories. People like to say that everyone went through some horrible awkwardness as kids, and that’s true, but some went through more than others, and I know exactly what you’re talking about here. I had those kinds of delusions too, though I mainly kept to myself and talked only as much as was necessary. Thank God I had all those books and games to bury myself in.

    But hey, now I’m just happy that I’m an adult, since now I realize that I can do whatever I want without worrying what my peers think of it.

  5. Yi

    Haha. I love reading this little set of personal tales–some genuine, some humourous, and still others embarrassing and grand. I think the best thing aboug reading this is that it reminds us we all have had these humiliating, Chuunibyou, or sincere moments. Although each one is different, that’s comforting enough to know. It also makes remembering my own certain past events a little less like… I want to hide in a hole… Just a little though.

  6. Pingback: Anime and Bullying: Adolescent Otaku Dealing With Bullies «

  7. Honestly, the way the world is sometimes, how harsh it sometimes can be, and how difficult it ends up being to cope, it’s not uncommon to need a booster in self-esteem. All the more reason when most times, you have none to believe in but yourself. So if enveloping yourself in an unattainable fantasy in hopes of pushing yourself towards that unattainable ideal is indeed considered “Chuunibyou”, I’m not convinced it can or should be considered anything shameful, embarrassing or indeed in any way *wrong*.

    Think it was Oscar Wilde who proclaimed: “we are all in the gutter; but some of us are looking up at the stars”. My stars are those I learn of from anime and VNs. As fellows communicating on this on an anime blog, I suppose you readers know what I mean, on some level. There are those who will dismiss theses as delusions, unreal, mere figments of imagination. But what, I ask, is the difference between obsessing over these or, say, Barack Obama, or some pop star or hollywood celebrity?

    If visions of Hotaru empowers you, if imagining yourself as nobility inspires you, if dreaming everything you say inspires you to do it to change the WORLD, I say DON’T ever lose sight of those dreams. I believe that we gain strength by emulating not humans but IDEALS. The stars we gaze at may be unrealistic and out-of-this-world, but so too, will our hopes and dreams that follow them, and what we then through them accomplish.

    Thus is my delusion; no…thus is my morality, thus is my reality, and thus are the PRINCIPLES and STANDARDS upon which my very life is BUILT. I EMBRACE my Chuunbyou, and shall flaunt it till the end of my days~

    • I don’t really have much to add to this. Just wanted to say that I personally loved this comment and believe that, in light of recent events, the series has done a tremendous job with presenting a sympathetic perspective. Thanks!

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