When I was growing up, “geek” and “nerd” were insults hurled with four-letter-word status. They were two of the worst things you could be and the stereotypes that came along with those words were none too flattering. They implied thick glasses with tape around the bridge, pocket protectors, bow ties, high waisted pants, the terrible stigma of high intelligence, and, of course the dreadful loneliness. Geeks and nerds had acne, played stupid games with their geek and nerd friends, and never ever got the girl or guy. I remember actively working to do whatever I could to not be considered part of the geek crowd. Sure, I was wildly unsuccessful, but being called a geek was something I dreaded much more than was reasonable. I felt lucky to be able to keep most of the things I really loved and was passionate about hidden to avoid the insults, but I was a “band geek” through and through and that part of me was utterly unavoidable.
Fast forward 25 years and I know a few things that I didn’t have the foresight to know when I was in high school. I could never have predicted that in the year 2016 geek culture is sort of sweeping the world, or at least my part of it. Celebrities of film, music, politics, words, and everything you can think of proudly display their geekiness and wear their passions with pride. Geeks rule the world, really, and that’s what I should have seen coming. How I ever thought it was cooler to hide being intelligent is beyond me and the fact that I was afraid to read a comic book because I thought I’d be made fun of is, in hindsight, moronic. I missed out on role playing game opportunities-I’ve never even been part of an RPG to this day!-and missed the opportunity to make friends with the kids it turns out were the much more interesting people in the long run. Luckily some of the people I got to know along the way were closet geeks themselves, and some have evolved the way I have. I’m glad that I realized in my thirties that hiding my inner geek was a waste of my time and I’m delighted the world has done the same.
Watching Daughter grow up in this new culture is exciting and heartening and sometimes I’m a bit jealous. Moving to a new school was so scary and for us, the parents, we knew it would be a struggle for Daughter to find a way to fit in. She’s different, often called weird, and we wondered how it would be for her. The thing is, her geeks found her. She was discovered pretty quickly by the other fabulous geeks- the smart, funny, weird, interesting, imaginative people who stick up for one another and make each other laugh and will someday rule the world. These are the good people, I happen to think. The ones who allow their passions and hearts to be worn on their sleeves. The ones who, as Simon Pegg said, are able to be liberated by their interests. I am lucky I have found my geeks, too, and I wish I had been fortunate enough to be a proud geek sooner. Still, forty isn’t the end, and I’ve still got plenty of geek time to go. After all, I know I will live long and prosper.