Being yourself requires being brave, but it’s worth it

Nerd.

“Back in my day” as a young kid in the school playground and classroom, that one single word bought pain to so many.

To be considered a nerd you had to be real smart, or atleast be good at something above the rest, even for a moment, to qualify. If someone got a glimpse of your perceived supremacy then you got to wear the kick me post-it on your back for the day, parading it proudly, naively, down the corridors. Lucky for you, you didn’t have eyes behind your head.

I bloomed late as a nerd. Unfortunately I didn’t get to wear the orthodontic protraction headgear until I was in my late teens (I wish I had an old picture to share, real graduation year book worthy material right there). I was blessed to wear braces twice. I was honoured with acne, studied more than I slept and enjoyed a lovely balance of bullying from various crowds.

Being a nerd sucked. Then something weird happened; we grew up.

These days, having graduated magna cum laude in nerd-ery, there are various benefits to this great honour, a few of which I thought to share;

  • The internet came along. And normalised everyone. I’ve discovered one can even use the tag #nerd in a social bio. Because embracing individuality is cool.
  • Comics became movies and the movies are too good not to enjoy. Similarly, wearing a green lantern inspired t-shirt or carrying a unicorn backpack makes a statement (not that I own a unicorn backpack, but hey, if you do, good for you).
  • I’ve enjoyed this part alot, drinking my morning coffee out of a red & blue mug inspired by Kal-El, it makes me one happy dude in the a.m.
  • Spectacles are sexy. What was once termed four-eyes is now a sight for sore eyes. Like what I did there? That’s nerd power for you πŸ€“.
  • I get to use the emoji ‘πŸ€“’ everywhere as it matches my profile picture. See, we even get our own emojis.
  • Nerds have their own TV series, and I hear it’s a real bang. I did it again, get it? πŸ˜‚
  • Growing up, gamers and techies were close cousins of nerds – these were dorks and geeks. These days there is a chance you’ll either work for one, get paid by one, use technology designed and built by one, and if you’re lucky, you’ll marry one.
  • Fashion trends get set around you, complete with fake glasses and suspenders.

I could go on and on, but I’d have too much fun writing the list. So let’s do what we came here to do, and give you the truth behind this post.

On a level of seriousness, the point I’m making is this; whether it be in the workplace, the classroom or the playground, regardless of age, sex, religion or race, choice of clothes, appearance or interests, what seems like the world on your shoulders, put there by others, really doesn’t matter. At least not as much as you think it does.

The opinions, perceptions and expectations of those around us are only as significant as we chose to make them. Everything eventually comes around full circle. One decade it’s not cool, the next era it is. One minute you feel alone, the next someone enters your life that makes it whole. One year you’re the least popular kid in class, the next few years you’re leading an organisation destined to make a positive impact in the world. Growing up you feel different, misunderstood and alone, then as an adult, in an unexpected turn of events you’re gifted with a child you know will be adored because you’re own experiences have taught you much about emotion and the importance of love.

Life can be difficult at the best of times. And feeling different certainly doesn’t make it any easier. There is extraordinary power, I’m now realising, in embracing your individuality, in owning your difference and in sharing your vulnerabilities. In all of your quirks, faults and flaws, there is power to stand out and be free, with who you are or who you want to be. It will need you to be brave, I don’t discount that, but it’s sure worth it if you dare muster the courage to try.

I hope my community is a safe place for you to start. On your own accord, you’re welcome to be yourself, starting now. You don’t need permission.

Ivan.

Read #blogtober 4: When life throws curve balls.

4 thoughts on “Being yourself requires being brave, but it’s worth it

  1. Pretty sure it’s a herculean effort to accept my individuality. I’m almost 41 and still struggling with it. I wasn’t a nerd, but I always felt stupid. I never went to college (except in my 20’s for one semester) so I’ve fought all my life to feel smart. I still don’t think I am. I’m good at writing and spelling and english and have a really high emotional IQ, or so I’m told, which is its own sort of intelligence, but I’ve always felt like the biggest idiot in the room. I read a ton and have been able to overcome my stupidity on some things, but I’ll never understand politics or math or love physics :). I guess I gotta embrace who I am though, right?

    1. I’m confident that being smart is not the traditional view of being good at math and physics. And in reality, as far as politics, not even politicians understand politics πŸ˜‚.

      I’d argue that EQ, as you mentioned, is much more important than IQ, so you’re miles ahead.

      I found myself in a position of influence, managing a team of scientists. I’m certainly not the smartest guy in the room either. It takes me a lot to understand things that most just get in minutes. That’s the truth. But EQ overrides everything. I’d barely break average on an IQ test. But in my opinion, they are a waste of time anyway.

      I say embrace who you are. There is something liberating about being in a group of people and saying “I’m not the smartest here, and my IQ is not that high, but in my opinion…”. I’ve done it heaps of times and it works everytime.

      I always value your input in my posts, it offers an emotional view most people neglect online because they centre everything around themselves. So thank you.

      And on that note, keep being you πŸ™Œ.

      Ivan

      1. Thanks Ivan! Your comment made my morning! I agree IQ tests are pretty worthless. People are complicated and so is the brain. To evaluate smartness, I think you have to look at more than book smart intelligence. I know some book smart people who are rude. I don’t think too highly of those people.

        Thanks for sharing and keeping it real.

  2. I’m a ‘nerd’ and I love it! We only have 1 shot at this life so let’s really embrace all the things we love rather than being too embarrassed about it. I drink my coffee in a Star Wars mug and walk in the rain with my Game of Thrones Umbrella (It’s shaped like a sword… Longclaw). I’m learning to just enjoy being myself… superhero tshirts and all! πŸ’œ

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