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Growing Up is Hard To Do

Embracing your inner child is acceptable

By Mark Wesley PritchardPublished 5 months ago 5 min read

Happy New Year, Vocal readers. I hope that 2024 will be prosperous and filled with joy for you.

We've all been told this at least once in our lives: "Grow up!"

Or we've been told something like, "You're too old for that."

However, there are valid reasons why adults act like children. Allow me to share a little bit about my childhood and why I like the things I love today.

My fellow Vocal readers and creators probably know about my horrific childhood already, but for new readers, here it is.

I grew up in the 90s, so yes, I'm a millennial. I'm the oldest of three children (I have a younger brother and sister) and as the older sibling, unfortunately, I suffered the most abuse from my now estranged parents. My parents were from West Africa and they were verbally and physically abusive towards me. To be clear to everyone, having parents who are from another country or continent is not an excuse to mistreat their children in any kind of way. I called them out in an open letter on Vocal in 2020, finally coming out to them. You can view the entire letter in the link below. Let's just say that they didn't take the news well.

Amidst being in a toxic and abusive household, there was some bright spots in my childhood. The year was 1993 and I just started Pre-K. One of the shows that was very popular around that time was Mighty Morphin Power Rangers. I had some action figures and other toys. Plus, Saturday morning cartoons, especially cartoons on weekdays, were my saving grace. Also, video games were so good back then. The first game console I ever played on was my father's Nintendo Entertainment System (NES) and the first game I played was Super Mario Bros/Duck Hunt. In case you were wondering, he had an NES Zapper, which was a controller gun, which I used to play Duck Hunt. This was back in 1989 at the age of two. Since then, I've played many of my favorite games on different consoles, such as the Nintendo 64 and PlayStation 2. As of 2024, I've been playing retro games for almost 35 years. Retro games and retro gaming have been and will always be my vice. I didn't have many friends in school, so video games became my best friends.

Anime: I didn't get into it until I saw Dragon Ball Z in the late 90s. I was hooked instantly and would watch it occasionally. Now, I only watch different kinds of anime whenever it's convenient for me, because of my busy schedule. My favorite anime has to be One Punch Man.

Cosplay: the really good part. This year marks a decade of me doing this wonderful work of art. I got introduced to it by a former colleague in 2013. This was about a year before I started doing cosplay. At the time, I honestly didn't know what cosplay was, so I looked it up online and I jokingly said that I would never dress up as a character at a convention like those weirdos. My words came back to bite me and I changed my tune about cosplay. August 1, 2014: I made my cosplayer and con debut, which took place on a sweltering Friday afternoon at a convention center. I had a great time that day and the rest of that weekend. I had been living in Arkansas for four years at that point and didn't have one single friend. I'm originally from Texas, by the way. By the end of that weekend, I made lots of friends, especially on social media. Ever since then, I still attend conventions and made even more friends. However, my con appearances have decreased since 2020 due to Covid-19, a busy schedule, and other personal issues I was dealing with. This year, since I'm celebrating a extraordinary milestone, attending as many conventions in my area is one of the many items as part of my cosplay anniversary plans. I didn't get into cosplay until I was 26. I've won two cosplay contests at two different conventions (2019 and 2020 respectively). So yes, I'm an award-winning cosplayer and I make no apologies for referring to myself as that. My cosplays include different versions of Spider-Man, Superman, and other DC characters. I've done over three dozen cosplays in a 10 year span. One of my favorite things about attending a convention is meeting different people. Plus, a convention is a great place to make friends and to enjoy yourself. It's a positive and engaging environment to be in, whether you're in cosplay or not. I believe that cosplay is for everyone, regardless of race, sexual orientation, gender, etc. If you haven't gone to a convention, then you're truly missing out on a lot. Go to one and you'll be wanting to attend more of these for years to come.

The aforementioned interests I've discussed are just some of the things I'm very fond of. Why would I tell everyone all of this? It's because the interests you love, especially as a kid, doesn't have and will never have an expiration date. Imagination is forever, regardless of age. People will make fun of you for liking certain things, but you live your own life on your own terms, not theirs. I mentioned at the beginning of this story that there are reasons why many adults have a childlike demeanor. Reasons could be growing up in an abusive household, like I have, feeling lonely, and childhood trauma.

Peter Pan Syndrome (PPS), while not a clinical diagnosis, is defined as an adult who refuses to grow up. I don't want to use the word immature, because I'm very sympathetic to those who might have PPS. The most notable celebrity who had Peter Pan Syndrome was the late Michael Jackson. Having a childlike personality allows you to be yourself without being ashamed about it. There's a huge difference between being childlike and being childish, so that's why I avoided using the term immature or a variation of that.

As I approach 40, I can accept the fact I'm more comfortable having a childlike personality. It's a way for me to escape from the horrific childhood I've endured. I've been told to grow up many times, but I no longer care about what people think of me. Whatever someone's definition of how someone is supposed to "grow up", it's best to let people be. The qualities of being childlike includes being curious, playful, and letting your creativity fly. The following quote sums up everything I've discussed in this story:

The child inside of you knows how to take things as they come, how to deal most effectively and happily with everything and everyone it encounters on this planet. If you can recapture that childlike essence of your being, you can stay 'forever young at heart.'

-Wayne Dyer


About the Creator

Mark Wesley Pritchard

Award-winning cosplayer, cosplay model, influencer, retro gaming fanatic, die-hard Texas Rangers fan, and nostalgic freak. Need I say more?

Threads: @thecosplayerfromtexas

Instagram: @thecosplayerfromtexas

TikTok: @thecosplayerfromtexas

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    Mark Wesley PritchardWritten by Mark Wesley Pritchard

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