Merriam-Webster.com’s opening definition of a nerd reads “an unstylish, unattractive, or socially inept person,” and to that, I object! The website follows that definition with a second, more acceptable description: “one slavishly devoted to intellectual or academic pursuits.” Now that is more spot-on, and with that definition in mind, I declare my nerdiness!
I certainly won’t accept the definition in my 1995 paperback copy of Webster’s New World Dictionary (which I keep in my desk, further proving my nerd status), as it defines a nerd as “a person regarded as dull, ineffective.” Hmmm, ineffective? I beg to differ. I promise that behind any technology invented to increase effectiveness, you are sure to find a nerd – or a nerdship (a friendship that includes two or more people who enjoy each other’s company, more online than anywhere else, according to UrbanDictionary.com). You could say that because of nerds, other people are more effective!
Through different stages of my life, I’ve both embraced and concealed my nerdiness. I don’t think I even realized that I was a nerd until sixth grade. (And, now that I have a sixth grader, I realize that’s when self-awareness and self-consciousness really seem to kick in.) And, while I may not have been the biggest nerd in my sixth-grade class, I was certainly No. 2 (next to my best friend, Celeste); and I was proud of it. Back then, satisfaction was gained by turning in an assignment or test before everyone else, maintaining a 100-plus average by going after any extra credit points available and answering questions in class that no one had the answers to (on days when Celeste was out sick.) Yes, I was that girl.
Of course, later stages of life taught me to tone down the academic arrogance, brush up on the social skills and adopt a “cool factor” so as to be accepted in society. (And, I’m still working on the “cool factor,” according to my kids.) All the while, I’ve continued striving to stay at the top of the class and ahead of the game, learning as much as possible and reading as often as possible. I think you call that being “slavishly devoted to intellectual or academic pursuits.” That’s me, and it’s what fuels my professional success today. I am a nerd, and I am proud of it!