I feel like there has been some pop-culture buzz lately around embracing your inner nerd. People reclaim nerdiness when they figure out how to hyperlink text, write an Excel formula for the first time, diagram hydrogen bonds, or read a non-fiction book. I am so incredibly pro-nerd reclamation. Wil Wheaton has gotten some publicity in the past year following his empowering response to nerd-bullying. “Nerding out” is becoming trendy.
I’m struggling with it.
I think my struggle with embracing nerdiness is linked to my chronic struggle to love and accept myself, honestly. There’s an angry little part of me that wants to shout at people, “You think that‘s being a nerd?” I’m not usually friends with that angry little part, because deeper down I want to make connections with others, not distance myself from everyone, and I love a lot of dorky things. Not trendy dorky things, but dorky things. I feel like the uncool nerd, and the old middle school self-consciousness and angst is still inside of me.
I do– I do— love the very nerdy parts of me, and it is who I am through and through. I have a brainy personality. I guess I’m just acknowledging that I feel uncomfortable with it because I had such a hard time embracing it growing up and I suffered as a result.
I read textbooks and journal articles for fun.
I read congressional reports for fun.
I hyperfocus on puzzles and don’t stop until they’re done– like trying to write epically long nested IF statements in Excel to color code my coworker’s documents.
I draw theoretical syntax trees to calm down.
I read and have a subscription to Time magazine.
I grew up watching Star Trek and still watch reruns when I can’t sleep.
I see patterns in the air (I don’t know how else to explain this) and sometimes my brain moves so quickly I’m not sure how I got from A-Z but I know it’s all correct. This is most often when people stare and ask me to slow down.
I’m not saying these things in a “I’m smarter than you” way, I’m saying it because sometimes I feel like the wrong kind of nerd. Not the cool nerd. And I don’t even want to BE a cool nerd. Whatever that means. I don’t watch the right nerdy shows or read the right nerdy books. I’m not a nerd with hipster glasses (thank god). I’m not a fashionable nerd. I’m a socially anxious, shy nerd. I am self-conscious that I am the wrong kind of nerd and when I see ‘non-nerdy’ people embrace their inner nerd, it gives me pause. To me, being “nerdy” isn’t like a t-shirt I put on and off. It’s my baseline. The equivalent is like, I’m embracing my inner fashionista today. We don’t hang out that often, but when we do, every once in a while I like looking super put together.
But again, I think this all has very little to do with others, and much more to do with my own insecurities.
I am resolving to love all these parts of me, and the big ol’ brainiac I am is still shy about it. That’s okay. We’re working on it. And goodness knows I can’t hide it. I am very grateful for the many people in my life who embrace my personality– it helps me do it, too.