As a late-bloomer to the cyber-age, it’s finally occurred to me that the denigrating term used to describe un-beautiful, un-athletic, usually smart, badly dressed, socially awkward and glasses wearing people has now risen to a near-compliment: nerd. Twitter uses the term commonly to attract followers.
Since I put on and wore my first pair of glasses in the third grade, I can relate to nerds on many levels. I removed my spectacles with almost every school picture. At the upper part of the class grade-wise, I participated in high school academic competitions; riding in buses filled with equally awkward glasses wearing kids. The beautiful people rode on convertibles during the Homecoming parade.
But being a nerd is not what makes bad memories. Nerds know they’re nerds. The effect non-nerds (in high school, that would be jocks and prom queens) leave us with was unpleasant at best. Not that I was bullied excessively (that happened in elementary school, won’t go there), but I never “clicked” with the crowd. For example, a jock sat in front of me in Biology class, we talked a lot, exchanged notes, but come picture day, he looked at me like I asked him for a thousand dollars when I asked to exchanged pictures.
High school yearbooks bring back so many memories; for the people actually in the photographs. At my school, the pictures staged, and un-staged, were the same twenty or thirty people. Beauties, beaus, class favorites, cheerleaders, football players comprised the same student population. The only way one would know I attended was my quarter-inch square picture along with the masses of similar unknown classmates.
These days, the tables are turned. I don’t know about high school yearbooks, but when I attend high school reunions, I find former class beauties and cheerleaders dancing with unchanged nerdy guys they wouldn’t have given the time of day in high school. The former jock I mentioned above told me he worked in medical sales of some particular equipment he doubted I was familiar with. I pressed him to explain, and I realized I’m the professional he makes the sales to, so not only did I know his equipment, but worked in a position to purchase his brand or not. Now that’s a vindication.
With blogging, Facebook, Twitter, and many other sources we nerds only need our brains, not athletic brawn or hair sprayed beauty. These days, the jocks and beauties jump on our bandwagons, becoming more nerdy because nerd is considered “hip.” (That may depend on degree of nerdiness). It’s unfair to question the integrity of the popular high school kids, many are great people and are popular because they have the social graces nerds lack.
As a nerd from day one, I welcome all to the vast, nearsighted, awkwardly dressed, and eccentric population that is embraced in today’s popular culture. School is probably still tough on nerds, but when all is said and done, I’d rather experience my best times now than reflect on high school for my most treasured memories.