When I tell people what I do I usually get one of two reactions:
- “You’re an author??” look of mingled concern, incredulity, and very slight admiration. “No wonder you live with your parents at the age of almost 30 and are still single. Wow. Cool. Good for you following your dream!”
- “You’re an author??” gleam of narcissistic hope lights behind eyes. “sweet! I always wanted to write but work/school/family/friends/etc. got in the way. I have tons of short stories/half-finished novels/poems at home just waiting for me to find the time. Would you like to read some??”
Somewhere between ½ and ¾ of the time both reactions happen in the same person within seconds of each other. Most of those people are not ones that would ever illicit the idea that they enjoy writing. In fact, some of them are individuals that I didn’t know could write more than their name and the title of their favorite store. However, the truth is that no matter how ‘un-writerly’ someone seems to us, everyone has a story. The difference is, I display mine and revel in the telling of it.
When you add to that my education degree, upcoming first full year of teaching, and various other interests (movies, books, music, playing music, games, etc.), you get the formula for a lot of name calling in the fashion of ‘nerd’, ‘geek’, or ‘dork’. Even my vague sense of fashion has been described as ‘nerdy bohemian teacher type’ (which is better than the weird geek bohemian hippie goth that I got called a few years ago…not even sure how that happened!).
You see, we all get told from an early age that brains and quirk are important, more important that our looks even. But then we learn better. By the time children reach elementary school, most of them will be able to tell you which kid is ‘weird,’ ‘nerdy,’ or ‘athletic,’ and the weird and nerdy ones aren’t on the cool list. It isn’t ‘cool’ to love reading and science and math. It isn’t ‘awesome’ to enjoy school…unless you have a class that encourages integration and fun, hands on learning, but even then the chess nerds are going to be picked on.
So how, in the middle of this mess, did being a nerd suddenly become cool?? The answer is incredibly simple…we grew up. So now kids who grew up in the 80s and 90s are the adults and the weird kid with the Ninja Turtles back pack, the Care Bears lunch box, and the Hobbit weighing down her 3rd grade homework is a teacher, and a writer, and an encourager of crazy nerdism.
The best part is that being a nerd is all inclusive. We accept anyone, anyway they come. All you have to do is get excited about something. Be passionate about what you love and do what you’re passionate about. Cosplay, science, drawing comic books, marching band, movie marathons…do it all! And when someone calls you a nerd, thank them. Leave them wondering what’s so awesome in your life because you know what, it is much cooler to live a life you love than to live a life that other people deem ‘popular’ or ‘cool’ just because they don’t understand. Most superheroes…NERDS! Real-life actors, actresses, millionaires, teachers, and business people? They’re nerdy too! Even a lot of the pro athletes are NERDS! So come on! BE A NERD! It’s the cool thing to do 😉
If you don’t believe me, go watch this video of Wil Wheaton explaining why it is awesome to be a nerd.
May the force be with you as you live long and prosper while avoiding muggles and orcs during your journey to Mordor with the one ring that will unlock the Mortal Instruments and bring back the Doctor for Sherlock. 😉