The Star Wars Episode 7 chatter has recently been flooding the internet and this Jedi is way too excited than any 25-year-old man should be for a story about super-powered monks with laser swords and alien dogs who communicate by wailing and throwing tantrums.
I’m a nerd.
Not your stereotypical short-sleeve, plaid shirt with a pocket protector and thick brimmed glasses nerd. A nerd for science fiction books and movies that take me to far reaches of the universe, or alternative worlds with high tech weaponry and strange looking creatures.
Our friends at Merriam-Webster Dictionary define nerd as an unstylish, unattractive, or socially inept person; especially : one slavishly devoted to intellectual or academic pursuits.
If we head over to Dictionary.com they describe a nerd with words such as stupid, irritating, intellectual, unattractive, boring or unpopular, and being obsessed with a nonsocial hobby or pursuit.
I would like to reformulate some of these words to concoct my own definition for the modern-day meaning of nerd. A nerd is someone who full-heartedly commits him or herself to a passion, enduring whatever criticism or adversity that stands in the way of that passion.
And that’s exactly what a nerd is, someone who is ridiculed for liking something too much, for being different and not following the status quo.
People may ostracize nerds for the way they look or act or dress, but I realized that the primary reason for this criticism is actually a combination of concern, irritation, jealousy or thinking a person is crazy for taking risks on a passion that generally yields poor financial results.
After all, most people follow the safe route by going to school, getting a 9 to 5 and making good money. Family members and friends might see a loved one struggle to bring in a steady paycheck, while some critics don’t like the fact that a nerd might actually succeed and overshadow them.
However, in today’s day-and-age I tend to hear comments such as: “Why are you trying to write, there’s no money in that.” Who can blame them I guess, when we are constantly bombarded with articles on the highest paying jobs for every known demographic or field.
I relate this to nerds, because nerds are the ones that get ridiculed, the ones that aren’t cool and never pursue ideas that others deem normal. However, for this same reason, nerds are the ones that find ways to affect the world.
With commitment, nerds excel in life, regardless of their level of “nerd-dom”. Heck, you’ve never heard a story of a successful, touching or inspirational person who just followed the crowd and did what was popular at the time.
Nerds build communities together for the love of one common passion that strengthens relationships and builds ties that can never be broken.
We all have a little bit of nerd in us, and we can’t make a difference without fighting for our passion. Besides, the most influential people in the world, past and present have always been nerds in their own respect:
- Mark Zuckerberg – Began the idea for Facebook by starting a website for guys to rate the attractiveness of one Harvard female over another. This certainly did not make him too popular (all those who have seen the Social Network know this), not to mention just about all computer programmers can be teased for their passion of computers.
- Emily Dickinson – Shut herself out from the world. After her death she touched millions of people when over 800 poems were discovered that she never showed anyone.
- Tommy Hilfiger – Went bankrupt selling apparel out of the back trunk of his car.
- Chris Abani – Imprisoned 3 times on suspicion of trying to overthrow the Nigerian government. He was a threat because of his devotion to often controversial political and religious literature.
- Colonel Sanders – Slept in his car while knocking on doors and wearing his famous white suit to try and sell his chicken.
- Quentin Tarantino – Never went to film school, but discussed and watched films all day while working at a video store.
- Charles Schultz – Every one of his cartoons submitted to his high school paper were rejected.
- Frank Lloyd Wright – In the United States his work was often ridiculed as being too obscure and outlandish.
- Ludwig Boltzmann – Maybe not a name you recognize, but he was shunned back in the early 1900’s for a theory that small atoms exist in all objects.
- Maya Angelou – It’s impossible to sum up the adversity Maya Angelou went through in order to pursue her passions of singing, dancing, acting and writing, so I would recommend reading more about her here. Racism, rape, violence, romantic ridicule and criticism for controversial literature are just a handful of things that she endured to pursue her dreams.
- Charles Darwin – His father and peers called him lazy and a daydreamer.
- Lucille Ball – Was regarded as a low, B-level actress before I Love Lucy. Most instructors and family members suggested she try another job.
As history shows, it’s cool to not fit in sometimes. So just remember that whenever you’re feeling like life isn’t going your way, maybe your popularity level isn’t all that wonderful right now, your friends aren’t supporting you or something you love doesn’t make you out to be the “coolest” or most financially successful person in the world.
Your uniqueness is something to wear proudly on your sleeve. In my opinion, everyone has a little nerd in them, and the earlier you show the world, the quicker you can find happiness, and the world will recognize you for it.
It’s tough because writers are charged with these side effects due to the nature of the craft: being locked up in a room, not talking to family or friends for extended periods of time, reading a book, making little money, or in my case, not socializing because I’m nose deep in Hugh Howey’s Wool Omnibus at the moment (not being very social) or being ridiculed in high school because I was a football player who wanted to join the musical. It will always be worth it in the end, because nerds are creative, they innovate with ideas they learn from their passion and reinvent our world the way no one else can.
In my eyes, being a nerd is committing yourself so fully to your passion that you will endure whatever adversity tries to prevent you from performing that passion.
Let us know in the comments section what makes you a nerd!
See ya next time…