I am a bit of an odd duck. Always have been. I’ve never fit into any one classification or another, with the exception of the nerds…I ALWAYS fit in with them. This lack of classification is something I’m proud of, something I cherish.
You see, in high school, I was one of the “smart kids.” I took the honors courses, I aced almost every class (with the exception of my last semester of high school, I got bit by the senioritis bug…HARD, and only got a C in physics and a B in Calculus…or the other way around, I don’t remember exactly). I was president of a funny little club called Matchwitz and another team called Knowledge Bowl, bet you can’t guess what those were all about! But on the opposite side of the scale, I participated in the girls basketball team (the “manager”: the bag handler, ball pumper, water getter, ..etc. but that was impressive for a fat little nerd like me!) and I participated in organizing school functions like prom, a few assemblies, and things like that. And that’s just where my unique identity began!
Do I think that being part of several “friend groups” in high school makes me unique? No. But it did give me a chance to explore parts of my personality that I never would have thought to find. I realized I could be smart; I could be the shoulder to cry on; I could be strong; I could be a total dork; I could be hilariously awkward; I could be dependable; I could be a geek; I could be a roll model. I could be all of these things at once, and I was.
My husband used to tell little 23 year old me that I wouldn’t even know who I actually was until I was 30 (he was 32 at the time). He told me that I might have an idea, but I wouldn’t truly embrace me for ME until then. I’m a bit of an older soul, so I was certain he was wrong and that I had matured much faster than my generational counterparts. While I may have had a decent head start for my age, I came to realize he wasn’t wrong at the time (for which I have repeatedly apologized).
“One of the greatest regrets in life is being what others would want you to be, rather than being yourself.”Shannon L. Alder
I can even tell you what caused it. Plain and simple, I had to grow a backbone. Don’t confuse that with “I had to learn how to be a jerk” because that’s not what backbone is at all. That is, in fact, just being a jerk. Backbone is the sister to confidence. Backbone is the ability to face what people think and do your own thing regardless. Confidence is knowing who you are. Backbone puts confidence into practice. Once I had that in place, my husband was right, I became ME, in all my weirdo glory.
What is my weirdo glory, you ask? Ok, you asked for it.
I am still a nerd, not just a little nerd: A LOT NERD. I laugh at the driest, nerdiest humor…because I understand it. I still read publicized papers by experts (not blogs, not forums, not magazines, actual research papers, with citations and peer reviews). I decided I dislike college and all it stands for, but I still LOVE education. I self-educate on many topics, not because it will get me further in my career, or make me more money. I do it simply for the love of it: pure curiosity.
Along the nerd line, I can still read the shelves off a bookcase. For about third of the year (I have a 3 part past-time rotation I go through each year), I read so many books that I HAVE to have a library card to 2 libraries and still have to find other sources of free books because I can read 300-500 pages a day, and books can get freakin’ pricey! I shouldn’t say just read, I absorb them. I throw myself fully into the worlds I read and I go nuts. I literally CAN NOT casually read. If I open a book, it’s balls to the walls until that book and/or series is toast. The only way around this I have found (that doesn’t drive me absolutely mad, like when I start a series that isn’t even fully written yet) is audio books. I can wrap my head around listening to pieces of a book at time, while I’m doing chores or dying my hair: the things that require both of my hands.
Then there is the geek in me. Yes, nerds and geeks are different. The geek in me loves sci-fi. So, I spend another third of the year binge watching sci-fi series. I have watched Stargate SG-1, Stargate Atlantis, and Stargate Universe at least 4 times completely through. I have binged my way through Star Trek Next Generation, Star Trek DS9, and Star Trek Voyager at least 3 times. This doesn’t even begin to touch on all the other sci-fi, post apocalyptic, and other geek stuff I watch. I love the escape of a good sci-fi. It gives me a little hope for humanity, at least until I go back out into the public and realize just how far into the future any of it must take place.
The last third of my year is spent gaming. I mix it up between PC and PlayStation. I don’t get into online gaming very much because honestly, I’m there to enjoy myself, not be griefed by trolls. I really enjoy tycoon style games (’90s kids…I’m looking at you!). And I enjoy a good adventure game, like the ever ongoing Skyrim or Red Dead Redemption II. I also used to be a huge fan of the Sims, but that comes and goes. I can never decide if I like the new version, or if they just overcomplicated the whole thing. I play games to escape life, NOT relive it.
“You have to be unique, and different, and shine in your own way.”Lady Gaga
So, I’m a geek. I’m a nerd. That’s not too weird, but my weirdo doesn’t stop there. I am a giggler. God, I love laughing. When the choice is laugh or cry, I will most times choose to laugh. I make jokes at the worst possible times about the worst possible things. I have been known to set myself off on a laughing tangent that causes my sides to stitch and my face to hurt. Yes, set MYSELF off. If I am close to someone, they know they are not immune to my jokes. I will make comments about anyone and anything, just to see lighten the mood or amuse myself.
I come with sound effects. I’ve been known to waltz into a room singing my own theme or mood music. I do this sort of a chipmunk voice and make funny little chirping noises when I’m happy. I make sound effects when I’m doing chores or as I finish tasks on a list. When I have nothing else to say or sound effect and I’m just going about my business, I have been known to pipe off, “durka, durka, durka” in said chipmunk voice. There is no end to my odd little noises, ask my husband. It’s actually how he can tell when I’m down or when I’m doing ok.
I have no formal sense of fashion, and I like it that way. I will wear whatever makes me feel great. Any color, any style, any combination that I LIKE. There are times when my sweet husband has to roll his eyes at my choices, or ask me if I already own “that” (because it is so similar to something else I love). He has asked me on occasion if I am a grandma, or a hippie, or just plain color blind (coming from a colorblind guy, that is pretty frickin hilarious). But, he never tells me he won’t be seen in public with me over anything. He knew I was weird when he married me.
“The more you like yourself, the less you are like anyone else, which makes you unique.”Walt Disney
I could go on and on about my weirdisms, but then what would I surprise you with later? The whole point to exposing myself like this is for you to know that nothing is out of bounds. Be weird, be nerdy, be geeky, be YOU. Not only that, but embrace who you are. The weight that comes off your shoulders by being unapologetically you is amazing. It took me many years to figure that out, and if I’m being honest, there are still days I don’t feel it like I know I should. But I am comfortable, for the most part, with myself and that makes all the difference.
Dance to the beat of your own drum. Sure, you can catch the rhythm of someone else’s, but it will never feel genuine. Your drum, your rhythm, is the only one that will ever truly fit you right. And you never have to try to dance to that, let it flow, have fun. Let yourself be free. You might be surprised at how much further you can go in life being your true self.