Respect for nerd culture has come a long way in the last three decades. Being a diehard fan of anything outside of the sports realm was once an invitation to be labeled a nerd or geek. Letting ones nerd flag fly caused many adolescents to have miserable high schools experiences. More recently, things have shifted in social society. Nerd is now chic. Marvel rules the box office with DC (hopefully) creeping up behind. TV series based on comic books are on every channel. People make plans around “The Walking Dead” or “Game of Thrones.” Gaming is an actual profession. New lingo, such as fandom and fangirl, has become a part of daily vernacular. People that never identified themselves as being “nerdy” (I’m talking to you, Nicole.”) are discovering that it just takes one book series, TV show, movie, game, or even character to drag them down the rabbit hole into nerdom. To quote author John Green, “Nerds like us are allowed to be unironically enthusiastic about stuff… Nerds are allowed to love stuff, like jump-up-and-down-in-the-chair-can’t-control-yourself love it. When people call people nerds, mostly what they’re saying is ‘you like stuff.’ Which is just not a good insult at all. Like, ‘you are too enthusiastic about the miracle of human consciousness’.” And he is right, why would any of us be ashamed of that. It doesn’t make sense.
I have said from the beginning of my time with TBK magazine that I was born a nerd. I was born in the mid-1980s and two major nerd followings were alive and well at that time. My mother was a huge fan of Star Trek. (She even had a Klingon dictionary. This was later given to a high school friend of mine along with her collection of Star Trek novels.) I watched Star Trek with her. It was our thing. Wil Wheaton was my first celebrity crush. His character, Wesley Crusher on Star Trek: The Next Generation, was the only kid that I knew of in outer space and I thought that was amazing.
The first movie that I ever remember watching was Star Wars with my dad. I was probably three or four years old. I clearly remember the feeling of panic when Luke and Leia where in the trash compactor. I sat on the edge of my seat hoping that our heroes would escape, not even realizing that there would be many more adventures to follow. I would go on to watch the original trilogy over and over for many years.
My interests where largely shaped by these two experiences. As I grew older, I was ALWAYS drawn towards science fiction, fantasy, paranormal, and horror. I read stories of gene splicing, time travel, mythical worlds, and dystopian societies. I watched shows about superheroes, villains, and of events that were simply unexplainable. Real life was boring but within my fandoms (not yet a word at the time) I could be more than a regular person.
When at school, I never shared or discussed my interests with others. It is almost like there was an internal alarm. I was already super shy, quiet, and read all the time. I did not need to make myself seem even stranger with my daydreams where my backyard was a fairy land. I did not need to tell people that I pretended that one day my mutant powers would become active and I would be an X-Men. Without anyone telling me, I already knew that being a nerd was not a popular choice. The funny thing about attending school with the same people for so many years is that you can’t hide forever. Even if you don’t come out right and say, “Hey, guys! I’m a huge nerd! I really love “Dune”, comic books, and think that there is a real possibility of alien life”, they kind of figure it out in some capacity. You write a book report on a crazy novel, you have in-depth conversation about “The Matrix”, someone sees you reading a Star Wars novel, etc. Eventually, you slip up. Thankfully, unlike many people out there, I really did have a good high school experience. The worst thing that might have been said to me was “Oh, yeah… you like that weird stuff.”
This brings me to present day. Back in late October 2016, I started a new day job. I did not tell anyone that I work for this wonderful magazine where I write articles when inspired. I did not mention that I cosplay and dress up like superheroes on the weekend. When I ask off work, I do not tell them that most of the time that it is because I am attending comic conventions. I certainly did not tell them that I am on a couple of podcast because I actually might die if they ever find out that I am not the timid, soft spoken person that they believe me to be. However, my cover was recently blown when I was in Dallas for the Fan Expo. One of my co-workers is a close friend. As soon as Facebook told her where I was, she knew exactly what I was doing there. It did not take long for the rest of the nursing staff to know about it as well. I came back to work bombarded with questions. “Did you actually breathe the same air as Norman Reedus?!” “Did you touch him?!” “Did you get his picture?!” How does he look in person?!” “You wore LEATHER PANTS and a LEATHER CORSET in public?” Once we got past the panic about Norman Reedus and the fact that I wore daring garments for all to see, we all went back to work. It was noted that I have this awesome job with TBK magazine. I get to do some really cool things. Like my one of co-workers said to me, “We all have things that make us who we are. This is just one of yours.” She is right.
It was never a secret that I worked for the magazine. (However, I would still rather that they not listen to my podcasts. I am way louder than they realize and sometimes I say some pretty embarrassing things.) However, times have changed. Unlike years before when I kept my quirks and interests to myself out of fear for being different, I was not hiding who I am anymore. I just don’t feel the need to make a point of announcing it. Be around me long enough and you will figure it out for yourself. Love me or hate me, I am a nerd.