Here is the full text of sequential art expert Comic Book Girl 19’s talk titled “Using comic book characters to identify your true self” at TEDxClaremontColleges conference.
Comic Book Girl 19 – TEDx Talk TRANSCRIPT
Hello, I’m Comic Book Girl 19. And I host a self-titled show on YouTube where I talk about comics, movies, literature, television, anything that’s artistic, that has a story that I feel is “the good stuff.” And it’s a very opinionated show.
I have a lot of strong opinions about art, and I want to share some of those opinions with you today.
And while I talk about more than just comics, I feel like comics are the medium that have really inspired me the most. And they have helped me to understand myself and the world, and have really answered a lot of questions I’ve had about life.
And I know that when a lot of other people have questions about life, they tend to turn to things like self-help books. But not me.
I’ve always found myself turning to fiction, because I believe that narrative provides a world where you can simulate feelings and experiences in a safe way. It teaches you how to empathize with other people. And not only that, I feel like comics really show you how to deal with life versus just telling you.
Another thing that I love about comic books is the colorful cast of characters that you meet in them. And let me tell you about my favorite characters, the X-Men.
Now, for me, Cyclops and Jean Grey are more real than Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt. And for those of you who are unfamiliar, the X-Men are a group of mutants with fabulous and terrifying powers, who are shunned and feared by society, when all they want to do is peacefully coexist and just have the right to be themselves in public.
And this idea really spoke to me when I was a child, because, growing up, I was a girl who loved watching horror movies, and drawing, and reading comic books — growing up in Alabama.
And to make matters worse, I was born into a family of very conservative engineers. It’s really comical now, but back then it was really confusing and a bit of a nightmare.
And then I met the X-Men. They showed me that I wasn’t alone, that there were other people out there who didn’t fit in, who had to fight for their rights to be individuals.
And not only that, there were just as many women on the team, and they were just as powerful and important and intelligent as the male characters, which really confirmed a lot of suspicions I had about gender equality.
And I got to live vicariously through these characters; they helped me to have an understanding of society’s fear of the different.
I learned that heroes never give up, I learned that they get to look super snazzy while doing so. And even more than that, I got to appreciate my struggles from a higher perspective, and cope with an imperfect world in a healthy way.
So, today, I want to tell you about one fun method of using the power of characters to find support, context, understanding, and meaning in your own life story.
Because, as we all know, life’s tough. We all have challenges and burdens and flaws to overcome.
What’s my burden? Well, as I said earlier, I’m weird, I don’t really fit in, and I have never been, nor will be, normal. And I come from a family and cultural background that really tried to pressure me into being something that I wasn’t. And that’s the thing.
Growing up, I knew that I didn’t fit into these molds that I was trying to be pushed into. But I didn’t really know what I was supposed to be doing otherwise, because I didn’t have the best understanding of myself at the time.
And I feel like to reach your full potential, you need to get a handle on yourself, you need to learn who you really are in the inside in order to become the hero of your own life story.
So, society says that it values individuality and that it encourages individuality, but that’s not really true. Let’s get real about it.
Society pressures you to be just like everybody else, and many just go with the flow because there’s a lot of instruction for being normal. It’s pretty easy.
But being an individual, the instructions really aren’t as obvious because it’s different for everybody. And that’s okay. It’s kind of a puzzle, you have to figure it out, try to have fun with it, as best as you can, even though it can be really confusing.
And before we move on, I want to let you know that even though — or even as powerful and wonderful and awesome as it is to be your true self, I feel like I need to give a little bit of a warning because it’s a hard road.
You’re going to have people coming left and right out of the woodwork, trying to take you down, going to try to make you feel bad, for being who you are.
And the thing is that even though it’s a really hard road at times, I want you to know that it really is the most fulfilling thing you can do in your life.
Excuse me. So, let’s all cast off the chains of oppressive normality together today and learn how to be your true self.