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  1. "On that day, mankind received a grim reminder. We lived in fear of the titans, and were disgraced to live in these cages we called walls." When I was six years old, I wanted to grow up to be Spider-Man. At the very least, I was absolutely certain I would grow up to be world-famous. And yeah, that's the kind of boundless self-assurance that only a little kid can have, but still. It was just a hard fact as far as I was concerned: before I reached adulthood, everyone would know my name, and be blown away by my artistic talents and bottomless kind heart. To everyone, everywhere, I would be considered a Hero. It never occurred to me that I would have to work for it. And I never imagined that other forces would work to stop me. I just thought if I kept being myself, the rest would come with time. Then puberty happened. Seemingly overnight, my bodyweight jumped to borderline obesity. Classmates, teachers, even certain relatives began pointing out my flaws, digging their fingers into open wounds and prying them open for sport. At 12, I began having thoughts of suicide, ongoing depression looming over me so heavily, I was left emotionally crippled, unable to do anything besides go to school and lock myself in my room. "Clearly," I thought, "the world wants nothing to do with me. Why bother trying to become a hero? No one even wants you as a friend. Why bother trying when everyone wants to watch you fail? Don't embarrass yourself. You're a failure, you'll always be a failure, the best you can hope for is to be ignored." My feelings of social isolation and self-loathing grew even deeper when I hit High School and my sexuality made it's presence known. I had already felt like a freak before I realized I was the only lesbian I knew, but after? I was doomed. I didn't even bother trying to date- the depression kept me certain that I needed to be quarantined, like FatNerdyGayness was some sort of disease I could infect the other, cooler kids with. Not that I didn't have friends; I did, and we remain close to this day, but even now, I fight against this cold, angry voice gnawing at my brain stem: "They don't like you. They just pity you. No one loves you. They just tolerate you. How could anybody want you around? Have you looked in a mirror lately?" I graduated high school and moved on to College, and again, I didn't fit in, but at least by this point I had learned to dull the pain by burying myself in the stuff I loved: Comic Books, Cartoons and Punk Rock. I no longer had a knife to my wrist, but I had reverted to that old notion that the best I could hope for was to be ignored. I didn't care about classes, or dating, or even trying to make friends- all I wanted was to keep myself out of the dark place. I flunked out of school after 2 and a half years and moved back in with my mom. I was on the run from my depression, and it justified every move I made away from the life I actually wanted. "People who can't throw something important away can never hope to change anything." Thankfully, my mom directed me into psych counseling which began treating the illness, rather than simply trying to evade the symptoms. I started reclaiming my head again, instead of just living in fear of the nightmares it could produce. Now, make no mistake, depression is not a battle, it's a war: there's no "cure", I will always be fighting against it, and I will have good days and bad for the rest of my life. But there's a world of difference between treatment and nothing, and with the aid of therapy and medication, I got it together enough to move out on my own 5 years ago and maintain (mostly) steady employment since then. But freeing up space in my brain to think about something besides avoiding suicide has forced me to remember: this isn't the life I wanted when I was a kid. My life, as it stands right now, is "good enough". I'm overweight, but not obese. I live in a godawful hovel of an apartment, but it's in a city I like. I make enough money to support myself, but not really do anything else. I'm totally physically unfit, but nothing in my life requires me to be anything else. I move from day job to day job, getting nothing from my work but a paycheck. I don't have a girlfriend and my social circle is small, but I'm mature enough to prefer quality over quantity. It's all okay. Just okay. But at six years old, I didn't want to be an overweight counter-jockey with an "okay" life. I wanted to be a Hero. And 20 years later, I still do. The time has come for me to build a life of my own design, to go beyond the walls that I've built up around me, walls that never protected me anyway, and take on anything that would keep me from the world I want to live in. (Is the Attack On Titan metaphor getting old yet? Is anyone out there still awake? Alright, bear with me, home stretch...) "If you win, you live. If you lose, you die. If you don't fight, you can't win!" In terms of "race", I'm a textbook hobbit: 5 foot 3, 185 lbs, round face, big eyes, more inclined to books and pies then bench presses. But to hell with all of that, right? It's not who you are, it's what you will become. And I want to become the goddamn Batman. ...okay, but seriously. I want to get faster and more agile, and build up my upper body strength so I don't need a stepladder to climb a tree, so, in terms of Class, that puts me with the Assassins. On top of that, I've been studying Seido Karate on-and-off for nineteen years, and it's the only sport I've ever had any sort of skill with or enjoyed, so there's a touch of Monk in there too. So, Assassin plus Monk basically equals Batman, doesn't it? Or Spider-Man, to harken back to my six-year-old self. Or a Survey Corps member, just to wring the last few drops out of my metaphor. And what better end goal for a fitness regime inspired by comic book characters then to dress up like one in public? Last month, I went to the Chicago Comic & Entertainment Expo with some friends, and we were blown away by the skill and diversity of cosplaying attendees, so much so that discussion immediately turned to who everybody was gonna dress up as next year. Naturally, the short tubby girl with no visible muscles was discouraged, but then I realized, an entire year is more than enough time to get my ass (and arms and chest and abs and back) spandex-ready. Who am I going as? Not quite sure yet, but the goal is the same regardless: Drop 50 pounds in just under a year, and build my upper body enough to rock out 10 pull-ups by 9 months from now. C2E2 did a lot more for me as well: like a John Hughes movie where you realize the love of your life is the one who's been there the whole time, spending 3 straight friends surrounded by fans and professionals of the Funny-Book industry brought me to the epiphany that my lifelong love of comics is where I should set my sights as a career. I am going to become a professional comic book writer, and hopefully one day write for the "big two", Marvel and/or DC. But I'm not going to get there overnight, and the advice from the pros themselves was to simply start making my own comics now; having quality work already under your belt is, according to editors at Dark Horse and Marvel, the best way to get noticed and hired. SO! The Challenge! Goals and all that! The whole point of writing this little message-board novella, right? Here we go... Main Quest: To lose 50 pounds and level up my upper body by C2E2 2015. Challenge Goals: Quit Smoking and Stay Smoke-Free for Six WeeksDo a Basic Dumbbell Workout 3 mornings a week, Six Weeks in a rowRejoin the local Seido Dojo and attend two classes a week, Six weeks in a rowLife Quest: To start building a body of work for my pro-comic portfolio. Complete the script and layouts for the first issue of an ongoing comic seriesMeet with at least two artists to discuss collaborating on 5 to 8 page portfolio piecesSave $100 towards a new laptop (which will make writing and collaboration infinitely easier) I want a life I'm proud of, a life worth living for. And while I don't need washboard abs to forge that life for myself, I think looking like a hero can only help me feel like I really am one, like I've always wanted to be. I am done living a life I can coast through, a life where the best I can hope for is to not be eaten alive by the demons of my past. I will not become prey to my depression. I will hunt down the life I deserve. Or put another way... "Sie sind das Essen? Nein. Wir sind die Jäger."
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