The Struggle: I was a nerd when nerds weren't cool

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

It's trendy to be a nerd. Some would even call it sexy. A girl whose into comics, batman and cosplay nowadays is considered cool. These are now more socially accepted interests and pastimes. More and more people are "adopting" the nerd culture. Even celebrities like Kanye West and Chris Brown are sporting the non-prescription nerd glasses and preppy sweaters.... people wearing X-men shirts but can't name the characters on it. Sorry I had to say it. But for some us.... we were nerds way before it was cool. It was never a fashion statement or a fad but always a lifestyle....and still is.

At 13 years old I remember going to the mall with my cousin, who was a fashionista, shopping and had to try the latest styles. I would patiently wait for her to try on clothes but I just wasn't into to the whole "shopping for clothes" thing. So I told her when she was done to meet me across the hall ...which was the Waldenbooks.

The bookstore was like a sanctuary to me and even now it is. I was fascinated by section of Nobel Peace Prize novels for young adults, The Baby Sitters Club series, The American Girl series and the variety of bookmarks from Disney characters to abstract art!

I knew I was different from my beautiful cousin based on my interests. To be honest I felt like something was wrong with me. A teenager who would rather read than shop for clothes? It was unheard of. So I would keep my fascination of my brother's action figures and my obsession and knowledge of Jim Henson to myself. I was the type of girl who would rather stay home and write, paint, or play Mortal Combat. Hey I loved studying for Language Arts and spelling tests.

I began my obsession with Audrey Hepburn at age 13.I did a book report on her for my English class. I knew everything about her, her movies, where they were filmed and what year they were made. I had all this joy and love for particular things but kept it all to myself. It was like torture to me. No one knew who Audrey was at my age I couldn't share ...well I was afraid to share. Was I not black or cool enough solely based on my interests? They would think I'm weird. Would boys like me....would my peers accept me...would anyone for that matter?

I knew then I didn't fit the status quo, so for the sake of not being ostracized from others, in particular black girls, I kept my love for "odd" things under wraps. They would talk about boys at the lunch table while I would sit there and pretend to be interested but in actuality I was daydreaming about my scholastic book order coming in the mail. True story. I wanted to be accepted but I knew couldn't just "change" who I was. My family always told me there was nothing wrong with me and that I was unique but I wanted to relate to all of my peers.

Of course with age comes accepting yourself and simply having the "don't care what people think or say" mentality. But it took me a while to get be share and be open about my quirky likes and interests.

Wearing a Green Lantern t-shirt, freaking out over Star Trek or playing video games doesn't necessarily constitute being a nerd. There are so many dynamics of being one. It is someone who doesn't conform to the trends, who thoughts and activities are not mainstream, who is comfortable being their self, who is extremely knowledgeable and for lack of better words "obsessed" with any particular activity or subject matter. Who may be socially awkward or who may not be. Who doesn't quite fit the mold. They could even be fashionable or may be a beauty guru. They maybe be extremely intellectual or creative. There is no limit as to what a nerd is in my opinion.

Don't get me wrong, I have nothing against trends.But with that being said some us nerds had to struggle for years. We didn't adopt the "nerd" is something that is instilled in us practically since birth.

Even an introverted personality is finally being viewed as a positive attribute. It's uplifted and celebrated....plenty of books are written on just that.

While in a way it's awesome to see more people interested in the things I always loved become a part of mainstream culture, whether playing the nerd is here to stay or go....a true nerd will always be a nerd till the end.

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