There was a time that the term NERD had a negative connotation. They were the kids that got picked on in school and were unsuccessful with the opposite sex. Nerds, dorks, geeks, whatever you want to call them- didn’t play sports, weren’t popular, and rarely had a social life.
Ah, how times have changed. Getting good grades is not something to just please the parents anymore, it is a status symbol. And those chess club devotees grow up to rule the world.
I wasn’t the typical nerd growing up, if there really is such a thing. I’m the girl that played soccer, got good grades and was in tons of extracurricular activities. My geek status was gained through a belonging to the school’s JROTC program. I mean, it is hard to avoid ridicule in a quasi-military uniform.
Becoming an adult has truly solidified my dorkhood though. I developed a fascination with graphic novels and science fiction (think Transformers, not Star Trek). I carry a book or two in my purse wherever I go, and have made earning a higher education a permanent part of my life, instead of a passing one.
But the older I get, the more it seems like my dorky interests actually make me more interesting instead of less. When some guy finds out that I own most of the comic books that he’s read, he is impressed. When I tell people that I am going back to college for a math degree, I go up a notch in the esteem of my audience. When someone spots one of my many tattoos, I am considered unique.
The cheerleaders from my childhood peaked at sixteen and the football players are all past their glory days. It is a strange turn of events for me. I see the kids that tortured me through adolescence still living in the same town, working dead end jobs with no prospects for bigger and better things.
Popular culture now glorifies movies made from 80’s cartoons or about aliens. My thick plastic glasses are now called librarian chic by the boys in my life. I revel in my social upgrade because I’m no longer a reject. The way I was teased and treated by others has made me more careful in how I interact with those around me. I use tact and respect to make my friends feel valued. I accept our differences and laugh at them too. They enjoy my fascination with vampires and I acquiesce when they ask that I join them for an episode of BATTLESTAR GALACTICA. We are all happily unhip now because we’ve learned that who we are is more important than fitting in. Though I must say, it is a pleasant surprise to learn that now my nerdy attributes make me cool.