Shedding the Nerd Stigma, Embracing My Inner Geek

I was recently told I have a “nerd girl vibe” and at first I was upset, thinking it was an insult. After all, I keep up with pop culture and I don’t wear pocket protectors. But when she said it was a compliment, I felt better because I realized she was right. Geek culture is chic nowadays.

The Rise of the Nerd

Throngs of devoted fans (me included) have made CBS’ “The Big Bang Theory,” a show about nerdy but smart scientists, the top-rated sitcom on TV.

The much-anticipated “Star Wars: The Force Awakens” busted box office records last year. And the popularity of Comic Con events around the country is growing.

Supermodel Karlie Kloss is kicking off her own coding camps this summer after she took private classes to learn about computer programming.

I know many people who choose to wear glasses, not because they need to correct their vision, but because they like how the frames look.

On the “Thicker Than Water: The Tankards” reality TV show on Bravo recently, new father Marcus Tankard held a fashion show to reveal his handcrafted bow-tie line, Brikkhouse. Two decades ago, bowties, suspenders and knee-high socks would have made cool fashionistas cringe.

The Geeks Shall Inherit the Earth

Back in my teen years in the late 80s and early 90s, being called a nerd would have made my friends and I freak out. The implication was nerds (sometimes called geeks) had zero or little social life, they wore dorky clothes, their heads were buried in books all the time and they didn’t know how to have fun.

The only time they interacted with the popular kids was when they helped a cheerleader do her math homework or write an essay.

The nerds’ devotion to tackling software and solving physics problems weren’t effective ways to land dates to prom or invites to parties with the in crowd.

However, those same former “nerds” are now heading successful start-ups and tech companies, having a blast dressing up at Comic Con events and buying mansions in trendy neighborhoods. They share their knowledge and passion for comic book and sci-fi characters with pride on Twitter.

Their intelligence, single focus and dedication for tasks we might have found daunting in high school are driving their success as entrepreneurs. Showing quirks helps them stand out in the crowd and even attract romantic partners.

Getting My Nerd On

As for me, I don’t have some of the typical nerdy qualities (i.e. I’m bad at math and I don’t read comic books), but I definitely embrace my inner dork in other ways.

I geek out over old videos of David Bowie and Journey on YouTube, typing in comments with fellow classic rock nerds and learning fun facts about my favorite 80s bands. I know most of the words to the majority of The Beatles’ songs.

Rather than waiting in line at a club on the weekend, you’ll find me dancing and screaming when I see Duran Duran in concert. When I saw Holy Holy, a band with musicians who performed with David Bowie, play Bowie’s songs recently, I geeked out getting a picture with the band’s drummer, Woody Woodmansey.

I can be silly and raise the roof sometimes and I feel the running man is one of the best dance moves. Ever.  There’s no shame in dancing in my car when disco or 80s pop songs play on the radio, either.

Happy hour for me involves enjoying a tea or coffee at a small business with friends or talking about great passages in novels with fellow members of my book club. I love matching my socks to my shirts and wearing Big Foot socks, too.

I’m a “word nerd,” who gets excited when I find just the right word to use in a blog or article and my fellow journalist friends and I love to poke fun at presidential candidates.

Sure, I like to use Twitter and Facebook, watch reality TV shows and buy trendy clothes, but the nerdy side of me will always shine. I’m more comfortable with it now, because I have come to realize it’s important to be true to yourself and enjoy your life, rather than trying to achieve a certain cool status.

If being nerdy means expressing enthusiasm for people, things and places I love, then I’m happy to embrace the nerd label. But you won’t find me wearing suspenders any time soon.


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