Sunday, March 30, 2014

It's a hard knock life for nerds

I love Wil Wheaton - and I'm not just saying this because I look like him, but I love that he completely embraces the fact that he is a huge nerd/geek and proud of it.

When I was a kid, pretty much until my mid-teens I was was teased and bullied for being a nerdy kid. It was particularly bad before I hit an early growth spurt in my tweens (I was the second tallest kid in the year when I was 13, my best friend, who I played dungeons and dragons with, was the tallest - this did reduce the amount of teasing, but when it happened it tended to be packs of kids ganging up on me). Much of my elementary school life was hellish because of constant teasing and bullying because of being the clever kid, who was into animals and Doctor Who and who read books in the playground instead of playing football with all the other boys during recess. The fact that I was from a working-class background in a run down, impoverished factory town nestled in a rural area, did not help things. I really stuck out. I was already telling people that I was going to become a marine biologist or dolphin vet when I grew up when all my male peers were going to be "professional footballers". Even having aspersions to university was seen as getting above one's station, almost as if you were being a traitor to your community. My sister got similar treatment being told "don't be stupid, you won't go to university, you'll have to get married and have a family" - by one of her teachers! Luckily I had a few fantastic teachers who supported me, gave me science and natural history books above my age category to read, and gave me extra assignments that were exciting and stimulating. The worst bullying incident I faced, which I still remember vividly, was when I got stones thrown at me by a gang of close to 20 kids, but beatings, and having my stuff taken or broken was a pretty common occurrence. Consequently, I had issues with depression, and became very withdrawn and introverted, as one would expect. I think my adult exuberance and extroversion may even be the result of my childhood experiences, compensation perhaps?

So at a recent convention when a young girl asked about being a nerd, I felt the pain, and thought that Wil Wheaton's response was spot on. Now I'm older I am totally out of the "nerd closet" and glad so glad I didn't buckle to peer pressure when I was a kid, and as Wheaton says it "gets better as you get older", it really really does.  Being a nerd is awesome. But it's tragic that so many of us suffer for it, in our childhoods. I wish someone had told me what Wheaton told this young girl when I was a kid. Good on ya Wil !

P.S. Here's a follow up video - a message by Wheaton to a child for when she grows up on why it's awesome to be a nerd - it made me tear up.
P.P.S. I have the exact same scarf ... 

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