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


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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.




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This article has 48 comments. Post your own!

ShamrockWriter said...
Feb. 2, 2009 at 1:06 am:
This is an awesomw article! I love how you describe what a "nerd" is viewed as in our society and then to those who are nerds. I love how you brought everything together to make a subtle, yet powerful statement at the end. Very nice job and well written! Go Nerds! Keep Writing!
 
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A Nerd Like You said...
Feb. 1, 2009 at 7:46 pm:
My school is a "nerd" school -- an exam school, so it's not that bad. And yet, oddly enough, the negative connotation is still there, even though all of us there are quite aware of the benefits of being smart.

Whether it's merely teasing or an actual insult, I can't understand why another term for an intellectual can have negative connotations. What is wrong with being smart? Or are they jealous? My friend once told me when she got into this school, they said it was a "... (more »)
 
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In Loving Memory Of J.E said...
Feb. 1, 2009 at 7:02 pm:
I'm not a nerd. I don't sit alone at school, but this is true for the --"Nerds" who do sit alone and, look like they got dressed with the lights off. No offense to anyone this describes,, but Melanie keep up the good work and,, make "Nerds" and "Geeks" feel good about there selff((: (P.S keep up the good work(:
<33 LaurenHaley(:
 
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leftout said...
Feb. 1, 2009 at 1:05 pm:
totally i guess im more of the geek/dork i accelerate in math and we kinda need to kno what we kno so like we wont end up on the street with a sign that says ninjas killed my father need money for karate lessons
 
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Zero said...
Feb. 1, 2009 at 12:48 am:
Yay! I'm shocked that people don't believe I can like rock music and converse and be a nerd at the same time. Screw them! Knowledge is power!!!!
 
toxic.monkey replied...
Feb. 17, 2010 at 9:44 am :
WOOOOT!!!!
 
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kay said...
Dec. 22, 2008 at 3:32 am:
I love it! this describes me! Go Nerds!
 
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clare said...
Dec. 16, 2008 at 9:27 am:
Go Nerds!
 
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