How Lord of the Rings Saved My Life

, by Zoë Gulliksen

I posted this original blog on my tumblr site on June 15, 2011 after seeing the Lord of the Rings The Fellowship of the Ring Special Edition in theaters for the ten year anniversary. I'm posting it here again, because of the enormous amount of support it received!
"Now I know that I’ve said books and movies saved my life growing up. I don’t think I can fully express how little I was exaggerating. I grew up in a very small snobbish private catholic school. The same 20 kids in my grade from kindergarden til 5th grade. I then moved to a different equally small but even snobbier private school from 6th grade to 8th grade. I didn’t know any of these kids who had grown up together. I was made fun of a lot behind my back without even knowing it most of the time. 
When I say I was THE only weird girl in the class, I mean it. Nobody else read manga or Harry Potter or loved the Star Wars, let alone even knew what Lord of the Rings was. 
Fellowship of the Ring came out in December of 2001 and was released on dvd August 6th, 2002. That weekend in August I was at my aunt and uncle’s house in Delaware for a family reunion. In their huge home theater system, as a 12 year old I first saw Fellowship and it changed my life. I was OBSESSED. I made my parents buy me the dvd and they didn’t understand. They thought it was too scary for me, all the “freaky looking people” and just, they didn’t like it. But too bad for them it became my whole life.
I bought every single edition of the books I could find. I bought the action figures and the posters and every single magazine I could find. My room became a shrine, I have pictures of it somewhere from back them. Entire walls and shelves and desks filled with every single thing Lord of the Rings imaginable. I guess as a parent I could see how it would freak them out. 
In school it was worse. I did The Two Towers for a book report one time and gave a presentation on it. My teacher openly said afterwards that she didn’t understand a word I was saying and went on to make fun of this ridiculous book and hoped that the rest of the class did something normal. 
It was during this time that I started my series of depression episodes. I tried, as a twelve year old, to explain to my parents how much I hated my life because it seemed useless. Compared to movies and books, life was boring and pointless. I sat at my kitchen table crying with my mom  for hours that day because she had no idea what to do with me. She had no idea how to help me and instead just fed my addiction to these books and movies even more.
I was so naive though, I didn’t realize how much the other kids were talking shit about me behind my back. On March 25th I made LOTR themed cupcakes and brought them to school for a self declared “LOTR Day” because it was the day that Frodo destroyed the ring. I don’t even know how I had the guts to hand those decorated cupcakes out to kids and a teacher who openly made fun of me. 
Everything changed when I got to high school. I finally got out of private school and went to a public school with a LOT more kids. I finally found other kids who not only KNEW what Star Wars and LOTR was, but LOVED them too!. My first period class I bonded with michelle, @Ohyoda on twitter and just blew my mind. Here was a girl too who loved this stuff just as much as I did!!
It was during that first month of my freshman year in high school that I started my high school’s Lord of the Rings Club. I kid you not. Social suicide. 
My drama teacher LOVED the movies as much as I did and when I approached her about starting a club, she immediately jumped on board. The next day I put up posters everywhere and sure enough, people came. A theater full of nerds and geeks who just talked for hours and hours and hours about how these books and movies changed our lives. We compared stories of trying to throw daggers at each other to recreate the scene of Aragorn and the leader of the Uruk Hai at the end of Fellowship. Of just every single little piece of that world we tried so desperately to cling to.
There was announcements every Tuesday over the speakers, “Come visit the Shire in room 211 at 2:30pm for the Lord of the Rings Club meeting.” People always made fun of the kids in that club and I didn’t care. Finally I had people who understood what I was talking about. For four years I was founder and president of this awesome club. It did so well that I also started a Star Wars club. That wasn’t as productive, mostly we hung around beating the shit out of each other with lightsabers. 
As a young teenager I spent hours and countless notebooks writing LOTR and Star wars fan fiction. It was then that I realized that I needed to spend the rest of my life giving that same escapism that writers gave me, to other people in the world. If I could make people forget their problems for only 30 minutes a day, that would be enough for me.
I was a chubby girl with no friends who was constantly angry at the world for being so mediocre. This is why I hid away in my room and didn’t make real friends. I had people in my club and in theater club, but I never brought them home. I never let people come over and I kept them at school strictly.
Because somehow people always ended up being no good. High school is all about talking shit about people behind their backs, making fun of each other and just down right cruel. I had fun, but I never trusted anyone. I always resorted to books, because no matter what, books couldn’t hurt you the way people could.
Even now, I find myself growing angry and restless and just so goddamn frustrated. I was MEANT to go on a quest like Frodo and Sam. I would give anything to risk my life to fight evil and sword fight orcs and travel to depths of the Mines of Moria and to travel by fight over endless miles to save halflings or to destroy the ring.
I was raised on Star Wars and Indiana Jones, but Lord of the Rings saved my adolescent life.
Life seems so pointless and boring compared to books and movies. But I’m a lot better at dealing with this than I was ten years ago. I realized that I can’t just give up on life because its not as good; I have to somehow make it as good. 
I just, how can life compare to pure imagination.?

The above pictures are from my yearbook of the infamous club my sophomore year of high school. If you cannot see, I’m the one standing dead center.
How much did Yearbook club suck? They misspelled “Tolkien”.
Welp, I was a social outcast as always. It wasn’t until the end of my sophomore year that I lost 35 pounds that I became at least a little attractive. But I grew up being picked on for being weird/nerdy/ugly so whenever anybody tells me now that I’m attractive a part of me never believes them.
Whenever I try to do something out of the ordinary, a part of me is still standing in front of that classroom giving a presentation explaining Gollum/Smeagol and being picked on, and I have to stand up for myself all over again."

2 comments:

  1. Love this post. (Life is SO much better after high school!) Though I do agree, real life is boring and why can't we really have adventures...? When I finish a really good series/book/movie/video game I feel this little hollow part in me because that amazing thing is done. And I still have to go live my normal life.

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  2. I thought of this post this weekend as the wife and I finished our new giant, take over a whole room of our house library. She was not geeky at all when I met her and since then I have turned her on to so many awesome geeky things.

    I asked her which section she thought LOTR should go: Literature or Fantasy? She looked at me like I was an idiot and said, "Uh, Literature."

    I have never been more proud that she agrees that LOTR gets a place next to Pride and Prejudice on our bookshelf.

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