Ever since I was young I was a very quiet person, I liked to be on my own, I did not speak unless spoken to, or I had something important to say. I think that because of the way that I always looked distracted I was diagnosed with ADD around grade 5 (age 10). I know now, that the ‘ADD’ was my introverted nature shutting me down in the extremely stimulating classroom environment. I spent my time in class trying to be as alone as possible. I wouldn’t put my hand up to answer or ask questions, I wouldn’t talk to anyone who did not talk to me, and I would choose to sit as far from everyone else as I could. As a result, I had very few friends and I would spend my free time reading books instead of playing with other kids. Despite what it looked like, I was always listening and almost always had the answers to question put to the class.
It was early in Elementary School (Grades K – 6) that I started my love of video games. My parents bought a used, and at the time outdated, NES system and I quickly be came the local god of video games. I beat the first Super Mario game in a my first sitting and continued to excel at almost any other game that I played. These games had hard and fast rules that where unbending and, while not always clear at first, they could be reasoned out. I became an expert at puzzles and word games. Anything that involved learning or just plain problem solving, I immediately jumped on. Once I had learned to read on my own, I devoured all sorts of fiction books, from Goosebumps to the Animorphs and anything that involved fantasy or sci-fi.
When I went from grade 6 to grade 7 (the transition from Elementary school to Junior High in my province) I was placed in a special school designed to help kids with learning disabilities function better in normal classrooms. This did two things, it separated me from the few real life friends that I had and also the subjects at this school were not as advanced as a normal grade 7 class would be. I would be a little behind when I moved back into the normal classes. I honestly don’t think I gained much from that school except a very strong attraction to Ice Cream Parlors. There was one down the street from the school and we went down there every second week as a whole class.
During my time attending this special school, there would be more group projects than in regular classes and subjects like Math and Science (my all time favorites) were secondary to any others. I started to get bored in school without Math or Science problems because these were really the only subjects that I was interested in. As I am a naturally introverted person, the group projects and a lack of interesting subjects drove me to be even more reclusive than normal. I can’t even remember a single person from that school.
When I came back to the normal school system, I repeated my pattern of reclusive behavior. I would respond if spoken to but I would rarely initiate conversation. I had a few friends that taught me to play Magic the Gathering, to which I was addicted until after post-secondary school. This pattern continued through to the end of High School because I was lucky enough to have the group of friends all go to the same school as I.
I went to a technical school for post-secondary where I took a control systems technologies course. Now this was my kind of class. Sure we had some group projects but each person had a clear and defined role and responsibility. The work was always challenging and almost always in the Math and Science fields. I learned to like computer for more than just gaming in this course. While I did not really keep contact with my friends from high school, I did make new friends at this course. By the end, there where only 6 people in the entire class and we where all good friends. It was these friends that encouraged me to get an ID card so I could go to the bars with them. I never took the drivers tests/courses because… well honestly, I didn’t really have anywhere I wanted to go. All my needs were being met at home, I had the basics plus my gaming systems, a growing library of books and the internet. Let’s not forget the internet.
After completing that course I went on to take another one that revolved around electronic systems. I was never really into the programming of the first course but this second course allowed me to learn more and more about the hardware behind the code and bring everything together in a more holistic fashion. Again I did not keep contact with my old classmates but I did make new friends.
You may be able to see a pattern here. I was, and still am to a point, a very passive person. I chose to let things happen and not to make them happen. I like to work alone or as alone as possible. I enjoy a challenge and I like to learn new skills and new ways to apply my knowledge. I am still an avid gamer, reader and watcher of TV.
Next up I will talk about what happened in my post-school days. It is a significantly shorter story but may provide the back-light to my current state.