The Abominable Badge and Name of Final Fantasy

September 5, 2011
By Anonymous

Andrew, John, and Paul worshipped the Final Fantasy video game series. I abhorred it, and never understood how it garnered their adulation. Their loyalty to that series, even to the exclusion of other great games (including Rogue Squadron, The Chronicles of Narnia, Crystal Chronicles, etc), was cult-like. Of course, being too concerned about their approval, I never properly voiced my own opinions about video games. The enlightenment of Ralph Waldo Emerson would not come upon me until six years later.
Isn’t it strange how the desperate need for acceptance of a young fifth grader can so easily squash his sense of self-reliance? Outwardly, I pretended to like Final Fantasy, and forced myself to listen in to my friends’ daily conversations. Topics ranged from Chocobo racing to an imaginary duel between Cloud and Sephiroth, but I was never truly engaged. Whenever I did try to pipe up with a “Hey, what about The Chronicles of Narnia?” their horrified faces caused me to take back my suggestion. Even when I offered a Final Fantasy title that I did like (Crystal Chronicles), John jeered at me: “Real Final Fantasy gamers don’t bother with those ‘sequels’!” Apparently, it was not close enough to the main storyline of Final Fantasy to be considered a “true” title. Snubbed, I immediately withdrew, saying “Oh, ok. You must be right.” That was the extent to which I expressed myself. Sorry, Emerson.
Years later, when my eleventh grade English class studied Self-Reliance, my mind came back to this insignificant elementary school situation. As irrelevant as video games might be, I knew Emerson would be ashamed of the way I capitulated to the “badges and names” of Final Fantasy. I sacrificed my opinions on the altar of acceptance from my friends. Emerson’s words deeply accused me of not speaking the “rude truth”- the truth that I did not share in their fervor. If our friendship prevented the free expression of thoughts that ran contrary to general opinion, then I have to admit that it was more like a totalitarian state than a real human relationship. In truth, Final Fantasy was not half-bad. Although I believe turn-based combat should be limited to the realm of RuneScape and Pokemon, I would not mind playing Final Fantasy for a level or two. While respecting my friends for their personal preferences was fine, I realize that I should have been more stalwart with my own, and not allow Andrew, John, and Paul to dictate me. Emerson would not acquiesce as easily as I did. He would stand his ground, and refuse to relent until Andrew, John and Paul either awoke from their fantasy or ended the “friendship”.
Since studying Self-Reliance, I resolved to become more like Emerson, and be true to myself. My three friends and I went our separate ways after elementary school, and I can no longer change what happened between us. However, with Emerson’s words in mind, I will not repeat that mistake. Even if it is in regards to something as small as video games, I want to “trust my instinct to the end, though I can render no reason”. My thoughts, words, and actions will be my own.

The author's comments:
Hey everyone! I just signed up with Teen Ink recently, figuring it would be a great way to get some feedback with my college essay.
For the record, this is in response to one of the prompts on the Common App: "Describe a character in fiction, a historical figure, or a creative work (as in art, music, science, etc.) that has had an influence on you, and explain that influence."

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