I’m a self-confessed nerd. It’s no secret whatsoever that I’m interested in a lot of things that are typically associated with geek-dom. I adore Dr Who, I’ve read every Harry Potter book at least six times each and I can quote huge chunks of dialogue from the films. I collect comic books. I dress up like Tank Girl on a semi-regular basis. The list could go on and on. I’m not at all ashamed to call myself a geek or a nerd.
To many people, being a ‘geek’ means that you have no life and no social skills. Geeks are sometimes thought of as being unattractive, socially awkward, and obsessive. Stereotypical geeks live in their parents basements, are experts with computers and have poor personal hygiene. In my experience, although there are geeks who fit some or all of these stereotypes, very few do. In fact, none of these attributes has anything to do with being a geek in my eyes.
To me, being a geek means being unabashedly loving the things you love, regardless of whether they’re cool. It means adoring a movie so much that you can quote every line. It means not watching 80’s cartoons ‘ironically’. It means walking down the street wearing a tee shirt with a reference that only every two hundredth person you meet will get. It means not apologising for being who you are. Geeks are loud and proud. We don’t give a shit if the television series we enjoy or the book we’re reading isn’t the ‘done’ thing, or if other people think we’re odd or childish for enjoying the things we do. A geek is a person who isn’t afraid to admit that they are really, really excited about a certain activity, film, book or band. A geek is a person who is proud to be themselves.
I wasn’t always a geek. There was a time when I was very into the idea of being popular, which meant pretending to like things I didn’t and hiding some of the things that I did. I always felt ashamed during this time, and was constantly worried that one of my ‘cool’ friends would find out that I loved watching Samurai Pizza Cats or listening to Hanson. When I got to high school, and became friends with a few people who were more open about their geeky fandoms, I followed suit. It was so freeing for me.
As I got older, I realised that most of my friends were geeked-out about something, and the ones that were the most willing to admit it tended to be the ones who were most confident in themselves. These people were way more fun to be around than the ones who were always desperate to look cool, so much so that they’d bury parts of themselves. It takes guts to be a geek, because you have to be very honest and not care too much about how you’re perceived by other people.
I’m proud to be a geek. To me, nerdiness isn’t about living with your parents well into adulthood, or being socially awkward. It’s about being who you are, unashamedly. It’s about not pretending to enjoy things that don’t excite you and not denying the things that do. It’s about wearing that enthusiasm on your sleeve and sharing it with other people. It’s about squealing with joy when you find another person who’s geeking about the same thing you are. To me, being a geek is the ultimate act of non-conformity. It’s so much cooler than being ‘cool’.