Lately, I’ve been watching some of the “It Gets Better” videos. I think this is a great movement. It is so inspiring to see people from all places talk about their experiences and to encourage youth and young adults to get through the tough times. I want to get involved, so here is my testimony to the “It gets better” movement, because I know someone out there needs it.

I’m not gay. Somehow, though, a lot of this stuff has been resonating with me too. I mean, I grew up a geek. I was watching Star Trek, and learning to solve Rubik’s cubes, and playing cutthroat games of Monopoly and Scrabble with my family. Actually, High School Me can be pretty well summed up by this Venn Diagram, and the fact that I enjoy making Venn Diagrams to sum myself up.

The intersection of my life.

I’m sure many of you recognize yourself at this intersection, maybe with a few of the details changed, but the idea is still the same. Geeks tend to get picked on. We make people uncomfortable due to our obsessions over seemingly stupid and childish things. We take part in activities that others can’t understand the joy of. We like to learn and always have a head full of facts, which can make others feel that you are a know-it-all.

I had a tough time in school. In middle school, I spent about a month working on the yearbook at lunch because no one would sit with me. I hid all my grades. I didn’t even get along with most of the smart crowd because they didn’t understand my insanity over the X-Files and Babylon 5 or my excitement over marching  band. I also got myself, and the whole class once, in trouble by arguing with my teachers instead of sucking up to them. I swam, but I was the bum on the swim team who knew nothing about other sports, plus, I was really slow.

Anyway, high school sucked. When Columbine happened, I shrugged and said that if you were going to kill yourself why not take out all the people who make your life miserable along with you. Yeah, I know, that sounds really bad, but you didn’t know me back then.

You know what: It gets better.

Just like it does for the LGBT crowd, the same is true for the geek crowd, it gets better. You aren’t the only one out there, even though it may feel like it at the time. You get older and you realize that you like who you are, and that’s more important than what anyone else thought or thinks. Then you find there are lots of us out there who like who you are, because we like who we are, too. That may not have made sense, but I think you get the point.

Today offers even more options than before, because you can find your community here on the Internet. When I was in high school, the best I had was a few online bulletin boards and one Star Trek email RPG. Not even my few friends understood my geeky obsessions. Now, you can hop on twitter and find a ton of people who won’t make you feel bad for having put pictures of Jonathan Brandis in your locker back in the day. Actually, they will probably crush right along with you.

And ladies, you don’t have to be pretty, or interested in clothes and makeup to get noticed. There are guys out there who want a woman who gets excited over Star Trek characters and can discuss interpretations of Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy for hours. You keep being you, and feel good about who you are, and that will attract all the attention you need. Nothing wows a man like a woman with strong opinions.

Today, I love being the lab geek. I have an Enterprise made with office supplies over my desk and I play Jonathan Coulton on the speakers. I hold board game nights and introduced a lot of people to Munchkin. Yeah, even now not everyone understands me, but they respect who I am and that’s because I am confident in my decisions and my interests. I love and embrace my inner geek and make it my outer geek. It really does get better.

Don’t give up, and don’t give in. What the bullies and “popular” kids and everyone else at school doesn’t know is that someday, you will be successful, doing something you love, and all because you never gave up on who you were. Keep going. I made it, and I know you can too.

It gets better.

17

  • I agree with most of your post. It does get better for girl geeks as time goes on. But there’s a part I disagree with: “And ladies, you don’t have to be pretty, or interested in clothes and makeup to get noticed. There are guys out there who want a woman who gets excited over Star Trek characters and can discuss interpretations of Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy for hours.”

    Yeah, if you disregard your body and pay no attention to your appearance, guys will still talk with you for hours. But they’ll think of you as a buddy or someone to hang out with, and they’ll want to date someone else. I know a lot of geeky girls who wonder why they’re still single, and it’s because they want to pretend that appearance doesn’t matter. Unfortunately, it does, but perhaps not in the way they think.

    Here’s how it works: When you don’t pay any attention to your appearance, it is a sign of low self-respect, and no guy, geek or not, wants to date a girl who is not confident in her body and with who she is, physically. Learn to love yourself as you are; and that means confronting yourself as you are in the mirror, choosing your clothes with care and pride, and learning how to use the basics of makeup. You don’t have to go crazy. But have CONFIDENCE. That’s the key word that makes women attractive.

    I have found that if you are smart *and* you are able to take an interest in dressing well, you can command a lot of respect. I have seen a lot of my fellow girl geeks who act like they’re ashamed of their bodies, hiding them in oversized, geeky t-shirts, baggy jeans, and they rarely get asked on a date, or they get categorized as the “smart but unfortunate looking” ones.

    Your weight or your beauty doesn’t matter so much as how you deal with it and the attention you pay to yourself. Dress well, and feel well; and other people will treat you well.

    I’ve often though of making a blog for Girl Geeks who want to learn to dress well. You don’t have to squeeze yourself into a thong or Victoria’s Secret outfits in order to look good; you just have to learn how to choose clothes for your body type, be confident, learn a few tricks to applying makeup. Don’t be afraid to understand fashion; it’s easy, if you study a few magazines. Believe me. If models can understand it, we all can. 😉

    There is nothing hotter than a well dressed woman explaining the concepts of Calculus, physics, or even Star Trek while being confident and wearing a cute dress.

    overheardinboulder 5.Nov.2010 9:57 am
  • I absolutely agree that you need to care about yourself and not hide in baggy clothes. I was thinking about high school writing that. Back when everyone was into fashion, and if your clothes didn’t come from certain places or didn’t wear the right jeans you got funny looks. And I don’t wear make-up 90% of the time, and I hated it, it seemed like such a process to do daily, and I didn’t want to spend money on fancy stuff or getting my nails done. But I know how to make myself look nice for evening out. So, I guess that part just needs an addendum, you don’t need to care about the latest trends in clothes and make-up, and make that an important part of your life, but you should care about how you look, though, I think when you become more confident in yourself, wanting to look better comes along with it. I have experience in that area.

    Rosalind

    GirlsAreGeeks 5.Nov.2010 10:11 am
  • Yeah, I am a total geek. I adore costumes- to the point where it can be maybe a little much at times.

    I feel sad when I see geeky friends of mine look panicked if they are confronted with a situation where they need to dress up or wear makeup. It’s nothing to be scared of. Have fun with it. There’s nothing that says we can’t be a little over the top anyhow. 🙂

    overheardinboulder 5.Nov.2010 10:18 am
  • That’s the kind of thoughts that take all the fun out of fashion :'(

    Blewe 13.Nov.2010 9:59 am
  • maybe there needs to be a it gets really bad campaign for popular kids. “yeah picking on people seemed really cool. But after high school, when no colleges signed me for a football scholorship, I just hung around. I got fat and became an alchoholic. Now I work for someone I picked on and haven’t got a raise in three years. Life gets really bad, I should have been a geek and not picked on people.”

    Budd 5.Nov.2010 10:00 am
  • It always comes back to looks and makeup. Always. *shakes head*

    If you need me I’ll be in my basement, wearing my baggy clothes and avoiding the world that STILL judges, even the ones who should KNOW BETTER.

    Odie 5.Nov.2010 10:58 am
  • Hey, if that’s what makes you happy, isn’t that what this is really all about!

    Rosalind

    GirlsAreGeeks 5.Nov.2010 11:38 am
  • Yeah, exactly. If you’re happy living in your basement with baggy clothes, who’s to tell you otherwise?

    On the otherhand, if you’re not happy that way, fix it.

    I’ve always felt pity for two groups of people:

    1. Naturally beautiful, moderately intelligent girls who grow up thinking it’s not cool to be smart or intelligent and so they disguise how smart they really are to fit in.

    2. Geeky girls who neglect their apparance, because they say it “shouldn’t” matter. It’s just sticking your head in the sand. It does matter! It matters to you, if you look deep down and admit it.

    I feel the same way about my disability. Technically, I shouldn’t have to explain to people why I’m in a wheelchair, but they’re always curious, because I’m 30 years old and look reasonably healthy. I find myself doing things I shouldn’t have to do all the time in order to achieve the things I want to do. It’s the way life is.

    I have a bad case of systemic lupus. When I first lost my hair in chemotherapy and high-dose immunosuppression last year, I went to get a haircut and I shaved it all off because clumps of it were falling out anyway.

    You can see the picture here:

    http://www.facebook.com/photo.php?pid=3109093&l=6ef4074b72&id=860664287

    I took that picture of me smiling because I wanted it for my own self. To show that hell yeah, I lost my hair, but I’m still happy. But I don’t go out that way most days, I have fun with it and choose different wigs like this:

    http://www.facebook.com/photo.php?pid=4285236&l=1ba6e0eb90&id=860664287

    That’s me, in a comic book store, on Free Comic Book Day, in a ridiculous white wig. I loved it! It’s my own personal style; there’s no reason I can’t have fun with my appearance just because I lost my hair. That’s not to say your own appearance should be similar. It should be whatever you like to see yourself as. Just don’t be frumpy because you have this preconcieved notion that as a geek, you have to be. You should wear whatever the hell you want, and with pride. Geek girls have enormous power. Beauty and brains. Add confidence, and it’s a killer combination.

    If I had my way, I’d dress like this every day:

    http://www.facebook.com/photo.php?pid=3872747&l=68cec82db5&id=860664287

    overheardinboulder 5.Nov.2010 2:13 pm
  • SaraI agree. And I speak as a geek girl who is happily married who wears weird clothes and has worn make up less than 10 times.

    Sara 5.Nov.2010 1:32 pm
  • “And ladies, you don’t have to be pretty, or interested in clothes and makeup to get noticed … Nothing wows a man like a woman with strong opinions.”

    Actually going to disagree over this for completely different reasons. It’s sort of ironic to have to point this out on an article inspired by the “It Get’s Better” project, but not all geek girls are interested in boys or in romantic relationships at all. 🙁 Also, some geeks are fashion geeks(and generally, this blog seems pretty accepting of other types of geekitude here which I appreciate). The rest of this article was very positive, but I feel like this paragraph should’ve been left out entirely.

    Tia 5.Nov.2010 11:12 am
  • One of the things I like about the project, is that everyone does actually have a slightly different perspective, and this is mine. I’m sure that part isn’t the only one that everyone isn’t going to connect with. I know not all geeks are super smart either, and not all outcasts were in the marching band. I’m hoping to speak to someone, not everyone, or maybe lots of people in little bits. What I’d really like is for this to be something we do as a community, just like the original project, each in our own parts, adding up to let people who that there is something out there for everyone.

    Rosalind

    GirlsAreGeeks 5.Nov.2010 11:37 am
  • I wish there had been someone to tell me this back in High School. I’ve spent so much time hiding my geekiness and only recently been embracing it. I’ve been out of High School for some time now 🙂

    Jenn 5.Nov.2010 11:16 am
  • It’s never too late to embrace! Watch for a future article about wearing my 10-year-old Marching Band varsity jacket to work!

    Rosalind

    GirlsAreGeeks 5.Nov.2010 11:39 am
  • You DO need to care about your appearance, but you don’t need to look like a barbie doll. Wear a geeky shirt to attract the geeky guys and pair it with cute jeans and brightly-colored flats or heels. Get a nice haircut and learn how to apply makeup properly. That’s really all you need. And once you look good, it will be easier to act more confident.

    Confidence IS the key. Use your looks to reel the men in, then use your confidence to strike up geeky conversations and keep them interested. Do NOT be desperate. I discovered my husband after I gave up on looking.

    Avalyn 5.Nov.2010 1:08 pm
  • Geeky shirt = yes
    Cute jeans = no, wear comfortable jeans
    Flats or HEELS?! = wtf no you don’t need these
    Haircut = unnecessary as you will be projecting someone who isn’t you.
    Make up = fuck no.

    I think reccommending 80% of these items is unnecessary and will just make geek girls who are already unconfident less confident about landing a man or woman. What’s important is to be yourself and be comfortable. I still find it funny that you say you don’t have to be a barbie doll, then encourage geeks to play dress up to find a mate.

    Sara 5.Nov.2010 1:38 pm
  • Sara:

    On most types of makeup, I agree with you. I wear only foundation makeup with a high level of SPF, so that my face doesn’t get skin cancer. But this is because I have a health condition which leaves me prone to getting skin cancer. Most people could skip the foundation entirely. I think freckles are cute.

    The only other thing I like to wear is lipstick/lip stain.

    From a health standpoint, I advocate leaving your eyes alone. If you put too much eyeshadow on them when you’re young, you will look like you’re 50 when you are actually 40.

    As for heels- if you can find comfortable ones, go for em. I have some killer stilletto boots but they come out very rarely because most of the time it’s not worth the effort. Balance what’s comfortable with what looks good.

    And the key to it all is: dress for yourself, not for others. And not to attract someone. The point of dressing up is to feel proud and confident, which will make you kick-ass in pretty much everything you do.

    overheardinboulder 5.Nov.2010 2:22 pm
  • I find the differing opinions of fashion very interesting in the comments. But I think that no matter how you feel about make-up, or shoes, or fashion, it all boils down to confidence, and projecting that confidence.

    I have four really good geeky female friends (who are like a lifeline to me – I work with all men. Right out of college). We ALL have a different take on what clothes mean to us, and we are all incredibly attractive in our own, unique ways.

    S. is studying to be a pastry chef. She geeks out over culinary stuff, and adores Miyazaki and Firefly. The idea of buying a dress terrifies her (I went prom shopping with her twice). She wears comfortable jeans, loose t-shirts, and sensible shoes when she’s not in her chefs clothes. She never does anything with her hair, and rarely wears makeup. And she’s confident, beautiful, and has a boyfriend who adores her, and friends who adore her and we don’t think twice about how she dresses.

    K. is studying astronomy and physics. She has worked in some big deal astronomical laboratories, studied abroad in Cuba. She loves chocolate, Doctor Who, Buffy, Star Trek, and participates in NanoWriMo every year, and loves to cook. She wears nerdy t-shirts, pullover sweaters, basic well-fitting jeans, cute flats, and like simple geeky jewelery. She’s happy, confident, brilliant, unafraid of her nerdiness, and uses her cloths to proudly announce this fact to the world, and we love her for it.

    A. is an English major who loves writing, used to write fanfic, loves Buffy, X-men, ElfQuest, and Doctor Who. She doesn’t have a “pretty” figure by most standards, but has a physical confidence that most women would kill for. She wore lots of Hot Topic in high school, and now sticks with cargo pants, and a nerdy or sexy tee and enjoys burlesque shows. Heels are a no-no, make up rarely, and she wears outrageous jewelery. She uses clothes to show how confident she is, rather than make up for a lack of confidence. She is incredibly attractive and generally awesome.

    E. is an art history/material science chemistry nerd. She is undoubtedly the most brilliant, talented, and dedicated person I’ve ever met. She pulls off work schedules that make me cringe. She’s a larger woman, but is a fashion nerd and loves her pink, frilly, flowery clothes. She loves her make-up, dresses, and high heels. She is sexy, confident, and brilliant and takes great pride in her appearance as a mark of her confidence.

    I work with all men, there is no standard of dress here for women. But I do love my clothes. I like drawing (as my mom says) pretty girls in pretty clothes. I have fun with it, I dress the way I’ve wanted to dress in school and was too self conscious too, and I set the standard here for what a woman dresses like at work. If I wanted to I could get away with jeans, sneakers, and a loose nice top. No one would know or care if I had make-up on or if my clothes fit correctly. I dress for me, and so that I can take pride in how I look – not because I need to hide who I am or because I feel like it’s expected of me.

    That got real long real fast…

    The tl;dr – I think that as long as you *aren’t* dressing as a result of anxiety (expectations, weight, knowledge…), and so long as you aren’t completely disregarding the professional standards of your workplace (wearing jeans to a major business meeting…), you’re golden.

    Be confident, be happy. And at the risk of turning the sap dial way up – just be you. That’s the most important thing.

    GN 8.Nov.2010 6:05 pm

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