Last time, I let my geek flag fly. I was conspicuously uninhibited about my nerdy proclivities, but it wasn’t always so.
I was an awkward kid, chubby and uncomfortable in my own skin. I’m not sure whether my awkwardness sprang from my geekiness, or vice versa. It’s possible that dissatisfaction with the real world led me to seek escape in my various flights of fantasy. Or perhaps my goofy interests made me a bit of an outsider, and a target of ridicule. All these years later, I don’t know the answer. That’s a chicken-and-the-egg riddle that I will never solve.
Looking back now, I realize that I wasn’t as unpopular as I imagined I was, but nonetheless, I never felt completely accepted. So once I became old enough that I couldn’t carry around comics and D&D books without attracting some funny looks, I started to hide my geekiness. Or at least, I tended to tone it down. In junior high, I butted heads with a substitute teacher who saw me reading a D&D book and told me that I was into “dangerous stuff.” In high school, a popular girl snatched a Starlog magazine out of my hand and mocked an ad for a Spock-shaped wine decanter. These encounters, and others, taught me to keep my nerdity to myself.
Over time, I’ve become less embarrassed about being a geek. Part of this is just growing up, and realizing that the people who might mock me for my hobbies are much rarer than I imagine, and aren’t worth knowing anyway. But it’s also due to the fact that geeks are far more accepted these days than they were when I was young. The satanism scare surrounding D&D and other roleplaying games has faded into near-nonexistence. Superhero movies and The Lord of the Rings trilogy have made huge money at the box office. And San Diego Comic Con gets news coverage across the country (even if it is a little condescending sometimes). Geek acceptance is at an all time high, so I can’t take too much credit for getting over my self consciousness (and to be honest, I’m not completely over it).
Also, geekdom has been directly responsible for some of my most enduring friendships. I met Darren when he saw me reading a Dragon magazine during my freshman year and he became my best friend throughout high school and beyond. I met Cameron through a website for gamers searching for groups, and have spent hours at the game table with him and an ever-changing roster of roleplayers. And I met Al in college, thanks to his Rifts rpg shirt, and he’s remained one of my best friends to this day, even across the distance from Denver to Cleveland.
So as I approach middle age, I’m fairly content with my geekiness. I may not wear it on my sleeve, but I don’t put much energy into hiding it, either. I have achieved Nerdvana.