A N∑rd’s Life This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine.

June 4, 2008
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Everyone has seen them. From the teen in math class who knows every answer before the question is asked, to the kid sitting alone in the cafeteria who looks like he got dressed with the lights off. Everybody has come across these highly intellectual individuals who are adored by teachers and sneered at by peers – the Nerds.

The term “nerd” comes with derogatory implications and can be used interchangeably with “geek” and “dork,” although they have slightly different meanings. Nerds are those who love and succeed at intellectual activities. Geeks are nerds who focus on a specific area, like math, science, computers, or band. Dorks may or may not be exceedingly intellectual, but they are socially awkward. Dorks are also easily confused by simple matters.

The word “nerd” brings to mind stereotyped images of thick-rimmed glasses or braces. Nerds are seen as unfashionable, mainly because they focus on studies rather than appearance. They are viewed as unpopular because they would rather learn than party.

According to my friends, I am a nerd. That’s right: the people I hang around and share intimate bonds with consider me to be of the nerd species. Those who don’t know me well also consider me a nerd. Maybe it’s because of my excellent GPA (and my humility) or my lack of social skills.

The first step to dealing with the fact that you’re a nerd is denial. No, I’m only joking. If you avoid facing the fact, a conversation like this may ensue: “No, I’m not a nerd … What did I get on that bio test? A 99. Why are you walking away?”

The second step (which is actually the first step, since denial is out of the question) is acceptance. You’re a nerd. Get over it and move on with your life. It’s an honor to be considered an intellectual by your peers (unless they try to throw you into the dumpster in the cafeteria, but let’s assume the general population is nice). You should be proud of your geekiness. Nerd pride! I long ago accepted this fact and have never looked back. (I’ve learned to ignore the spitballs and “Kick me” signs on my back.)

But being a nerd isn’t as peachy-keen as it sounds. It comes with responsibilities. It’s not easy meeting everyone’s expectations. In the middle of an IM conversation, I am asked what eight times six equals (not that that requires nerd powers to figure out). I’m constantly used as a reference for information or as an editor – not that I mind. Sometimes it’s nice to be needed, but I’m considering charging.

A lot of pressure comes with being a nerd. Nerds have to combat and overcome unrealistic stereotypes. I’m ­constantly teased by my loving friends. My nicknames include “Nerd” and “Super Geek.” The fact that I’m extremely uncoordinated and once flew down my basement stairs wearing a helmet doesn’t help my case.

Despite these stereotypes, many intelligent children (and adults) don’t fit the mold. Numerous intellectuals aren’t solely absorbed with learning; they pursue other interests like sports and social activities, which go against the usual stereotype of nerds.

I’ll admit to having several “nerd” qualities, but I’d like to think I’m not 100 percent nerd. I do get high grades. At times I am socially awkward. I am uncoordinated and can trip up or down stairs or on any surface. My love life is nonexistent. I’m known to tell stupid jokes. I’ve been the target of physical violence, and I’m at the mercy of one of my best friend’s strong (and I mean strong) punches.

Despite these qualities, I’m not all nerd. I have great friends, who put up with (and sometimes abuse) my nerd powers. I’m not that interested in math, science, or computers; I’m a literary buff. I enjoy social activities, and I like to think I’m not that dorky looking (nobody comment, please).

The book Nerds: Who They Are and Why We Need More of Them by David Anderegg talks about how our society is lacking in brains compared with the rest of the world. He claims this is because children see the negative stereotypes associated with intellectuals. Society teaches them that smart kids are disliked. Teens sometimes become annoyed when there’s a nerd in their class. Believe me, I know that feeling. Instead of looking at the negatives, teens should see the positives of being smart.

In today’s world with everything that’s going on – between the war in Iraq, threats of nuclear weapons, and poverty in third-world countries – it pays to be smart. With brainpower, we can change the world. Despite the negative connotations that come with being smart, today’s society needs to embrace its inner nerd.

This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. This piece has been published in Teen Ink’s monthly print magazine.

Join the Discussion

This article has 48 comments. Post your own now!

ballerinakitty said...
Nov. 6, 2013 at 2:19 pm
By your definition I am a nerd, geek, and a dork, and proud of it! Your article displayed my thoughts perfectly. People need to become more accepting of nerd and realize that nerds are the ones to change the world!
deanna98 said...
Aug. 23, 2012 at 2:19 pm
Yup, I relate completely. But I was, am, and will always be exceedingly proud of who I am, even if people think fourteen's too young to start college courses. No "cool" person ever changed the world. (By the way, I'm a clutz too. Despite the fact that I'm about five feet tall with preschool-sized feet, I always manage to trip over myself).
Nick5 said...
Dec. 21, 2011 at 5:54 pm

Good article, I like english too. We would have a perfect soicity if people did not look down upon "nerds". A desire to achieve is should not be thrown off a cliff! I looked up nerd in the dictionary and it told me this:

a stupid, irritating, ineffectual, or unattractive person. 2. an intelligent but single-minded person obsessed with a nonsocial hobby or pursuit

Kinda funny almost, how can you call a smart person "stupid"? Isn't that a little contridicting? Shouldn't we be call... (more »)

GoGreenGirl said...
Dec. 12, 2011 at 10:27 am

I totally agree(:


Violetta said...
Sept. 12, 2011 at 8:59 pm

I agree with a lot in this article. I am called a nerd by a lot of my friends, but it's usually in a teasing way.

I enjoy helping people out with their homework and a group project, but sometimes it's a little degrading. I want to scream, "Did you even TRY to pay attention?!" But I refrain, somehow.

I'm not that dorky looking either, but my glasses are a part of the nerd look.

I've gotten over that with time, accepting my smartness, but sometimes I wonder if being a nerd ... (more »)

sweet_silent_surenity said...
Apr. 11, 2011 at 5:57 pm

This sounds like a "how to" article in people magazine... by the way... acording to national geographic... national gpa has gone up .7 points in the last 5 years. So, the standards are being "dumbed down" so that pot heads and people who would've been c averages can have the illusion of succes. So, if anyone thinks they're smart, it's just annother illusion. Y'know... like the common teen illusion of individuality that is proven psycologically. THAT is why there are more nerds...


Kimberlee said...
Apr. 4, 2011 at 9:38 am
I'm not considered a nerd, but I am dating someone people consider a nerd. Although she dresses and acts just like everyone else. Her grades are excellent. I mean Straight A's 99's and 98's all the time
Carabear said...
Mar. 20, 2011 at 12:30 am
Hey, sorry to hear your picked on. I'm also a nerd. But my school is like an alternate universe, the #1 in class is the sun in our social universe. So I have never been picked on. Sadly, the only spitballs and kick me signs are from my friends, who I've known since forever. I'm here saying, I agree! Power to the nerds! Nerds 4 life! And every other cliche line ever used in a motivational speech!
1337Writer said...
Mar. 11, 2011 at 7:06 am
This is not me, which people call me a nerd, as good loads of people tend to hang out with me. I don't see how being smart would effect your social skills. I take Calculus, 2 honors classes, spainish, and World history AP and I'm only a sphomore, but nobody has a serious problem with me. They say I'm cool because I can not only help them with math I can give them a good laugh. Intelligence doesn't effect if your bullied or not, it's how you put yourself infront of others.
T.R.Trevino replied...
Mar. 20, 2011 at 2:22 pm
It's not always that being smart affects your social skills, it's just that some people get so into their studies that they don't get enough practice socializing. I, for example, got so into English that I spent nearly all my time reading and writing. I kind of forget how to socialize and feel awkward around people who aren't good friends.
smileforlife said...
Feb. 26, 2011 at 12:43 pm
This article, for want of a better word, ROCKED :). I loved it and am also a literary buff. English is my forte, and I get made fun of for using obscure words a lot.
T.R.Trevino replied...
Mar. 20, 2011 at 2:24 pm
Me too! When I use, what they so eloquently call, 'weird words', I get a lot of stares, eye rolls, and so forth.
. replied...
Oct. 4, 2012 at 9:42 pm
Me too. It got to the point that when a teacher used an unusual word, my friend would ask me what the definition was.
Hawthorn said...
Feb. 23, 2011 at 9:25 am
Very well written! the first time I read this I thought I was hallucinating because you described in perfect detail my life as Miss Dictionary! You even got the strong best friend part right!
Hawthorn replied...
Feb. 23, 2011 at 9:26 am
oh yes, and I also attempted to fly down stairs as well.
Chibbie said...
Feb. 4, 2011 at 4:49 pm
You are totally right. I am a nerd yet I like to play different sports outside of school and hang out with friends. I do different things.You can say I am a nerd with my HIGH GPA. But I don't sit by myself and I do go to the movie with different people. I guess you can say everyone is a nerd, jock, prep and outcast all at the same time. Just in different levels :) What I am trying to say is that you are completely right :)
meligirl731 said...
Jan. 20, 2011 at 4:12 pm
People call me a nerd all the time, but they do in a joking manner. I don't love doing homework, I hate it. I don't love studying, to heck with it. I don't even study. Even though I don't do this I still get 100% on tests, all A's. I have many friends, guys hitting on me, I love to run, play sports, watch movies, hang out with friends, people look up to me for how I do my hair, my makeup, and find cute clothes. I'm considered a "nerd" and I love it. It brings me closer to people.
KunaiNinjaFighter said...
Jan. 8, 2011 at 2:11 pm
I'm a nerd 110% but I think nerds come in different flavors. There's the math nerds (I suck at math), the quizbowl nerds, the book nerds, the anime and manga nerds (ME), and so so many more. I also sympathise. I should charge for people asking me to help with their work. Love the article!
mikea said...
Nov. 30, 2010 at 1:38 pm
well why dont we just jump on over to mamby-pamby land where maybe we can find you some self-confidence you jackwagon!   
KunaiNinjaFighter replied...
Jan. 8, 2011 at 2:09 pm
wooow, that's not even funny. That's just mean.
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