In my last year of school, I was sitting in a class with a bunch of overeager education students. Anyone who has been in the program can tell you that some of the classes are very, in my most endearing word, "fluffy"; all touchy-feely and truly painful to sit in. Each of us was to present something about ourselves in a given form to the class. I picked the safest route by simply showing an old picture of myself, quickly giving a spiel, and sitting down. Other people in my class were much more ambitious. One boy sang, one spoke Korean, one recited poetry, and one guy explained how he did Kendo (Japanese martial art that involves sticks) on the weekend. The Kendo guy stuck out to me. As I watched him swinging around his sticks, talking about his group of friends, and how they would go on the weekends and compete, one part of me sniggered thinking what a giant nerd he was. Why wasn't he embarrassed? You're almost 30 years old! Put the sticks down and do something respectable!
The other part of my brain didn't follow the same stream: I was intrigued. He looked absolutely, completely comfortable and happy with himself. There was no hint of hesitancy in sharing something that most other people would not consider a "cool" thing. I initially chalked this up to a lack of self-awareness in a social setting, but that didn't seem to fit. I realized this guy was a nerd, he was aware of it, and he enjoyed being one. My concept of a nerd dramatically changed that day.
As I get older I am seeing a really interesting trend in my generation; it's something I call generic individuality. We wear things we wouldn't normally because we see a blogger wearing it, and we wear it before it becomes too popular. We go to places we wouldn't normally because we can post a picture of it. We exercise to post about it, we cook to show it off, and we create to display. We are consistently attempting to fit into an ever elusive group that has no leader. Trust me, it has its own personal pull on me. The other day I found myself thinking I needed a spiralizer to make zucchini noodles, but thankfully I reminded myself I hate zucchini. There is tremendous pressure to experience what everyone else is experiencing. The only problem with this is that I think it stops us from finding what we individually would enjoy. We miss the "nerd" opportunities! We don't get to geek out over things and thus feel obligated to semi-enjoy what the masses do.
And this is where my group of student-nerds comes in. The happiest kids, and generally the most fun to be around, are those who have their own things. Part of this happiness comes from a sense of identity that they gain from their nerdisms- am I allowed to just make up words like that? They are so excited about something, and they have it as their own. They do not do it for publicity, or for recognition, they do it simply to enjoy. Nerds enjoy things, with little concern about why they need to enjoy it. It is simply theirs, and that's all that matters. No pictures, no videos. No one needs to know about it but them.
That has been my goal the last couple of months. I have been searching desperately for my nerdism. What's so fun about this is that I have found myself exposed to so many ideas and concepts that I was never willing to consider before because of some conceived notion of my identity. I feel like I'm starting to get to know myself again, and I'm starting to actually enjoy things. One day I read about honey bees, and now it's all I want to talk about with people. I love bees! With that has come a greater appreciation for the environment, and I have thoroughly enjoyed expanding my views. The best about this is that it has never been propelled by a social need but as a personal need. As someone who cannot handle stress in the least, this has been a saving grace. When life gets overwhelming, I go off and I get to explore things and find what makes me happy. It has been so fulfilling and refreshing, and I have found myself slowly starting to fit into what makes me a nerd.