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.
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.