I was a super nerdy kid. I was never interested in sports. I was involved in Girl Scouts from first through tenth grade. I played three different musical instruments in the school band and participated in our church handbell choir for almost ten years. From first grade on I wore glasses. In the early years, I was not particularly careful with them, so I was prone to breaking my glasses; I remember having a couple pairs held together with tape until I was able to get a replacement. My mom encouraged reading early and I excelled at reading. In second grade I could read at a fifth-grade reading level, and the older I got the farther ahead of my classmates I read. I remember once during library time I wanted to check out a copy of a children’s version of Moby Dick, but the school librarian didn’t think I should check it out because she believed it was above my level of reading and comprehension. She quizzed me in front of the other students and I was able to take the book home.
My voracious appetite for books only grew as I grew older. I was lucky to have several encouraging adults who recommended or gave me books to read that expanded my horizons.
In elementary school, I discovered the Star Trek and Star Wars movies. In the fifth grade, I began to beg my mother to let me stay up past my normal bedtime to watch Star Trek: The Next Generation on TV at 9:00 p.m. I was made fun of for my glasses. I was made fun of because I liked to read at recess rather than playing dodgeball or some other game I wasn’t interested in or good at.
When I was in middle school I became obsessed with reading science fiction and fantasy novels. I devoured The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings. Of course, in middle school, there is a change in school social structure. Unlike elementary school where everyone is friends, middle school becomes divided into different groups and cliques form.
I always felt as if I didn’t really belong in a certain group and tried to hide my nerdiness, to no avail. My haircut, the hopelessly uncool clothes my mother bought, and my ginormous glasses all branded me as a nerd. I attended a small school and never had a group of friends that shared my interests. Recently when my husband and I watched Stranger Things on Netflix I thought, “Wow, that’s the group of friends that I should have had as a kid!”
During my high school years, I still felt like a nerd. I got all A’s and was the editor of the school newspaper for a year. I participated in the Academic Contest with other school students in our school’s League. I was a member of the Scholar’s Bowl and the National Honor Society. I tried harder to be cool and hide my nerdy interests so that I would fit in, but I never really did. I often felt ashamed that I was so “weird,” as other kids called it. I never dressed right, never played sports, never had the right car, the right hairstyle, the right interests, the right music, and whatever else was or was trying to be, have, or do.
After high school, I took a semester off and traveled. When went to college I slacked off my first two semesters and did not do well. I had a somewhat late rebellious phase and was determined to not be the dorky person I had always been. I lived a much more carefree and bohemian lifestyle for quite a long time, trying to figure out who I was and what I wanted to do with my life. I remember having an epiphany at a Dead concert at Red Rocks. I was having a conversation with an older couple who had followed the Dead for years. They were living the lifestyle they loved. They were doing what they loved. They weren’t trying to be something other than what they were. They were happy.
I had never lost my love for all things sci-fi, superhero, or fantasy. I am a huge Doctor Who fan. I love graphic novels and am chomping at the bit to read The Walking Dead Compendium 3, which I received for my birthday but haven’t started yet. I am dying to watch the new Wonder Woman movie. I could sit down and discuss at length why the newest Star Trek movies totally suck and why the newest Star Wars movies are fantastic.
My husband and I have attended three Comic-Cons together. They have been some of the most fun experiences of my life. There were so many people there that were having the time of their life, surrounded by so many encouraging people who shared so many of the same interests, some of whom had dressed up as their favorite characters, not caring a bit what the rest of the world thought.
I am tired of trying to fit into someone else’s mold, of trying to be someone else’s ideal. I don’t care if I wear more band or TV show themed T-shirts than LulaRoe leggings or skinny jeans. I am happy with who I am, nerdiness and all. I no longer feel like it is something I should feel ashamed of. I have never been more comfortable in my own skin. I no longer care to change who and what I am to make others like me; if they don’t, it’s not my problem. Love yourself. Be who you are and own it. It’s the only way to be.