A Nerd Memoir
I believe that nerd is compliment. In my parents’ day nerd meant an anti-social, wimpy kid with good grades and a pile of comic books by his side. Today, the meaning has changed for the better.
By ninth grade I had already read all the Harry Potter books (thrice may I add), watched the Lord of the Rings movies too many to count, and joined the leagues of teens finding safety through fanfiction; yet didn’t want to be called a nerd. I was shy about my obsessions, which I could blame on my years of middle school and Disney Channel discriminating against my personality type. This set in my mind that the only way to be happy was to be a stylish and beautiful teenager with plenty of friends and boyfriends. Being unable to take hold of this persona, I believed myself one of the failures characters like Miley and Raven would frown upon.
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It was not until that year I discovered it was okay to be a nerd, thanks to my friend, Kira. One day during chorus when our teacher was out, Kira showed me a YouTube video with these two grown-up goofballs named John and Hank Green. They were talking about how awesome it was to be a “nerdfighter” and how as a nerd you could embrace your passions and interests and show them to the world. I had never heard of such an idea before. It was cool to be a nerd? The VlogBrothers continued to explain that what makes someone cool is when they express their interests and follow their dreams. Having an obsession, apparently, was the beauty of humankind. My mind was blown. My whole life I had been hiding my personality in hopes of being cool without realizing that my personality did it for me.
Ready to learn more, I dove into as much Green media as possible. I watched their YouTube videos, read John’s books, and discovered science with Hank. I felt a strong need to show my ideas for others. I finally was able to wear my nerd shirts to school, I could talk openly about my favorite characters and complicated plot lines with new friends that I had met in high school, and soon after discovered the world of Tumblr, where I learned new vocab such as “feels”, “otp”, and of course “fandoms”. I also joined new fandoms thanks to my friends both in real life and online. Shows like Lost, Doctor Who, and Sherlock raced across my mind constantly, joining my old friends Harry Potter and Lord of the Rings. I was finally confident person who had embraced herself as a nerd.
Others, sadly, still do not understand the concept of nerds being cool. Some of my friends still feel insecure wearing some of their favorite nerd shirts to school, believing it will “ruin their image”. Also, at The Hobbit midnight premiere back in December of 2012, I was the subject of talk between two middle-schoolers in line for some rom-com, wearing Hollister t-shirts and $20 lip gloss, just because I was wearing elf ears in the theater. Worst of all, they made no attempt at whispering. It stung me at first, but I have gotten over the pain, and I hope that they realize what it would feel like if their interests, whether it is sports, pop music, or fashion, were “uncool”.
Luckily, I am living in a time where many people embrace the new meaning of “nerd” and have come to accept my personality quirks. I no longer have to hide in my basement playing Dungeons and Dragons or practice my light-saber skills in the dark. Now, I have a community that cares about my feelings and recognizes my existence as worthy. I am living in a world where people like Steven Hawkins, Bill Gates, and John and Hank Green rule, and hopefully someday I will too.