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!

allaroundawesome said...
Nov. 30, 2010 at 7:51 am
this isnt necessarily true that everyone who is smart is a nerd. my friend leah is absolutely gorgeous, athletic, in all advanced classes, and has a 3.8, so there is obviously other aspects to the lable then just intellectualism.
myriamjonaslover said...
Sept. 3, 2010 at 12:39 pm
this is My life either! OMG
blofish said...
Jul. 18, 2010 at 8:44 pm
Ha! Actually so my life!
ilove2read124 said...
Jul. 3, 2010 at 6:09 pm
this is soo true, with out being blunt and without saying, nerds rule the school! haha, and i completely agree with the last 2 paragraphs, not to be mean, but America's one of the dumbest coutries around.and really, smarts is whats gonna take to change the world.Really good, i liked it =D
sasssgirrrl22 said...
Apr. 13, 2010 at 9:46 pm
lol i luv this. awesome jobb. really like the humor in some partz. u r a very talented writer. plzz keep writing! btw, congrats on gettin into the mag!! ;))
PEACE!!! ;P said...
Apr. 13, 2010 at 5:06 pm
Well I don't really consider myself a nerd because I have a social life and great friends.  I get good grades for the most part and I'm uncoordinated and not that popular but who wants to be.  Popular kids arn't considered popular to me because they only have friends cause people are scared of them or afraid to be picked on.  Thats just my opinion though. No offense to popular people because some are nice but few are.  I liked the article and hope nerds feel better about them... (more »)
xBaByGiRrL22x replied...
Apr. 13, 2010 at 9:38 pm
i agree wit PEACE! im in a way popular, but i dont really like the world. i mean, who gets 2 decide who & who isn't popular?? Just cuz some ppl hav rele kewl clothez & evry1 wntz 2 be just like them. Im not saying everyone who's popular is a jerk ;) but few dont let it get to their headz. I can be extreeemely uncoordinated & have amazzing friendz & I wouldnt change it. gr8 article
xBaByGiRrL22x replied...
Apr. 13, 2010 at 9:39 pm
*word* lol
ElephantGirl523 said...
Mar. 11, 2010 at 8:07 pm
Nice article. You should check out the story One Math Test, in the nonfiction section, it's about the same kind of thing, but focused more on the feelings of the experience.
Snowbelly311 said...
Mar. 11, 2010 at 5:35 pm
Very well done!!!
WMCJeff said...
Feb. 17, 2010 at 1:15 pm
Good job, my teacher told me i had to post a comment on something so here it is... Happy Mr. Schut?
crawfordkid This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. said...
Feb. 17, 2010 at 9:54 am
Long live the nerds!! ;-) Like the article.
toxic.monkey said...
Feb. 17, 2010 at 9:41 am
it's disgusting that people put down those who are clever/witty/just plain smart. if we all grow up not using the knowledge that's offered to us now, the world will me even more messed up than it is now...
izzib1202 This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. said...
Jan. 26, 2010 at 6:30 pm
thank you so much! it's such a catch-22, knowing that people will mutter and laugh when you are enthusiastic or even just participate in class, but obviously if you don't you'll do less well in class
VioletsAreBlue said...
Nov. 21, 2009 at 1:27 am
I really like this! I agree with a lot of the points you bring up. I consider myself as a nerd too, in the sense that I get good grades, have smart conversations with other people, and know and remember a lot of useless information. I've never thought it was bad being smart; in fact, when has it ever been fun to feel stupid? Most of the "nerds" I know (me included)have friends, a social life, and occasional awkward/embarassing moments, just like other students in the school. Real... (more »)
Sara! replied...
Feb. 2, 2010 at 3:32 pm
Totally agree!
ambermarie<3 said...
Nov. 20, 2009 at 9:03 am
my friend DANIELLE is a nerd hehehehe
BriarRose This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. said...
Nov. 19, 2009 at 7:11 pm
Right on! I myself am a scholastic bowl nerd, and, after all, said nerds will rule the world! Anywho, keep writing =]
Trekky McCoy said...
Apr. 20, 2009 at 11:23 pm
Me? A nerd? WELL DUH! This is why I like Star Trek: it shows people, popular, succesful, strong, and INTELLIGENT! I think Gene Roddenberry had the right idea!
babygurl_06_011 said...
Apr. 16, 2009 at 5:37 pm
you know what if their wasn't nerds out their how would the world be so good? well I'm a nerd and I'm proud to be a nerd.(thats the honest truth) I like getting good grades and I like all of my classes. I have friends and they are people who play sports and they are ones that beat up little kids.
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