Essay – On Nerd

All my life I’ve been a nerd. In elementary school I spent my recesses acting out my favorite books instead of playing or sporting. 

I read all the time, staying up way past my bedtime to read books not on many other 4th graders reading lists. Tom Sawyer, Great Expectations, Gone with the Wind. By 8th grade I’d read most of my Complete Works of Shakespeare and had just discovered JRR Tolkien and Jane Austen. By my senior year I’d already read most of Dickens, Tolstoy, Hugo and Dumas. If it was a classic, I’d probably read it.

I loved school too. For all the reasons most other kids hated it. I loved to learn new things. I couldn’t wait to have to memorize Hamlets soliloquy like my older brother did for a high school assignment.

But I hated PE, and recess and talking to people.

Because it was hard and I was weird.

I was the pock marked girl with glasses too insecure to look anyone in the eye. The one who shook from fear and embarrassment when called on by the teacher. Who would not walk into class after the bell rang because people would look.

I wanted to be invisible.

I had friends. Usually one at a time because that’s all my introversion could handle. They were usually outliers like me (usually for different reasons), just trying to find someone to share lunch with.

Growing up a nerd was hard but it could have been worse. I was so good at playing invisible that I never really got picked on. Except for by my own sister. She was the opposite of me. She was beautiful and cool and everyone knew her and wanted her. She was as insecure as me but instead of hiding, she pandered for everyone’s attention. And I don’t think I ever saw her read growing up. To say the least, we didn’t get along. 

But that’s not what this post is about, I’ve mostly buried the hatchet with her. Forgive me my bitter tangent.

I’m so thankful now that I spent so many years with my face buried in books.

Because I can’t really read anymore. At least not the way I used to.

Due to my brain injury and a series of concussions, my brain doesn’t work so good anymore.

I can read books but not difficult ones. Not ones that use more than one big word a sentence or an older version of the English language. I can’t read classics anymore and understand them unless I’ve already read it.

So the library of classic novels I’ve read is complete. I will read no more new classics.

I read other things now. I got into Harry Potter about 10 years ago and that made me remember how much I love fantasy. Now I read those kind of books, but rarely. I don’t have the capacity to read like I used to.

So since my falling from Nerd grace, I have discovered I’m a bit of something else.

Now I’m a geek.

I still don’t read comic books (okay, only 3 or 4 times) because to me 1000 words is worth a picture.

But I have found happiness in many geeky things. Comic book movies are my absolute favorite movies and I’ve never been so happy that Hollywood makes the same movies over and over. And I love the DC and Marvel TV shows.

And I love Lord of the Rings (I’ve read it 4 or 5 times) and remember going to the midnight showings of the movies when they came out years ago. I love Doctor Who and am a lifelong Star Wars junkie. I even played World of Warcraft for a time. Now I mostly play DC Universe Online when my brain needs a mini vacation.

I went to Comic Con 2 year’s ago and I loved it. Not only because I met Captain America (but that certainly didn’t hurt).

I’ve lightened up from my Nerd-dom and have learned to fully embrace my Geek. Being a geek makes my life fun and helps me find things to pour my passion into.

My children are fully headed into the nerd and the geek life as well. And it makes me happy.

They seem to be without the insecurities that froze me out of so many things as a kid. And that makes me proud.

And I don’t think it will make them outliers anymore.

Also, just as a reminder, I’ve shared the same room, breathed the same air, and had my arm around Chris Evans.

P.S. The one on the left is me.


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