I may in fact, be a nerd. I may be ‘’smart’’ and all that which is supposed to come with the territory. Yes, I’m socially awkward at times. I’ll be the girl who thinks over the joke that everyone else finds funny. I’ve never been the most popular girl, the one who sits with a plethora of admirers, guys and girls alike. Never been the girl all the guys liked either. Maybe I’ve scared them away by my reluctance to embrace social norms. While everyone will be laughing and gossiping, sharing pictures and videos, I’m sitting reading, writing, trying to escape the world which surrounds me. I’ve been the girl who sits in class quietly, who you probably won’t get a peep out of, unless it involves a topic I’m intensely passionate about. Then I’ll open up, spilling out my words almost like a faucet overflowing with water. I’ll go from moderate talking speed to rapidly fast, as shy as I can seem, I’ve always been prone to overexpress myself. There are the times when I can be as quiet as a church mouse, minding my own business, into and about my work, as well as the times when I’m the social butterfly, open as ever, sharing, laughing, and I instantly become the most open, charismatic person in the room.
I was a nerd and a cheerleader. Hey, I’m still a nerd to this day. I was ashamed of it for a long time, as the word ‘’nerd’’ had too many negative connotations to ever make me want to associate myself with it. Suddenly, I began to think that being a ‘’nerd’’ was actually kind of cool. I mean, who doesn’t want to be known for being intensely studious as well as intelligent? I love to read, sit up late at night and overthink, and write in my notebook when others surround me with their pop culture, gossipy conversations. While others collect hats, lipsticks, glosses, and pocketbooks, I collect quotes. BrainyQuote has been a guilty pleasure of mine as I’m often obsessed with the thoughts of others, as well as thoughtcatalog, as I can read about a multitude of people with lives and experiences similar as well as different to mine.
I wear a thick pair of glasses, and no I don’t want contacts. I rock my glasses just fine, as I’ve become so used to them that it wouldn’t surprise me if one day they just stick to my face. My glasses have been more than a visual aid to me, or an accessory, as they have come to represent way of life. Many have wondered what exists behind my glasses, as if behind them lies the ‘’real’’, unfiltered me. They tell me to ‘’take them off’’ and look into my eyes, almost as if they can stare deep inside my soul. My glasses keep the mystery intact. It makes them wonder who I truly am, draws them into my puzzling energy.
I’m horrifically terrible at flirting, and I’ve never had a boyfriend. Small talk often becomes painful as there are times I feel like an alien in outer space. I would love to act as if I enjoy the many ‘’surfaced’’ conversations that my peers do but I don’t. I don’t want to know about your shoes or the way you wear your hair, I want to know about your dreams, goals, why you think you exist, the purpose you have beyond yourself. I want to fill my words with intent, to speak whenever I truly feel something needs to be said. That’s why I’m so quiet. My minds runs at about 1000 a minute. Always thinking, questioning, desiring to know more about the world which surrounds me.
There’s a time when all stands still, and for some time I am able to fall into myself. When I dance, the music, my body, syncopates and another part of my persona is revealed. I become the performer, the dancer, a being so effortlessly light on my feet. I am dynamic, as others watch in awe, wondering how it could possibly be: how can a ‘’nerd’’ like that dance the way she does? She looks so awkward on the outside, as if her body couldn’t possibly possess even an ounce of the necessary talent needed to perform like that. She should stick to her notebook, stay in her place. Never should she grace the stage with immense passion and energy. She’s a smarty-pants, wannabe know-it-all, glasses wearing, quiet nerd. She shouldn’t be able to dance. Nerds don’t dance. Nerds aren’t cheerleaders.
When I took a leap of faith and tried out for the cheerleading team, they didn’t believe me when I said I could dance. I could hear the snickers in the backgrounds. They saw me on the outside, knew I was quiet, and felt that I wasn’t capable. I couldn’t break-it-down or bust a move like they can. People like me don’t do that. We are only good at school, nothing else. I’m proud to say that I made the cut. It took me overcoming quite a bit of laughs as well as the hurtful words of my contemporaries: You don’t LOOK like a cheerleader?” I was a cheerleader as well as a nerd, and I enjoyed every bit of it. I enjoyed living outside of the mold of what others expected me to be.
The words nerd and cheerleader should no longer be referred to as complete opposites of each other. Due to the labels placed on us by our society, we’ve been taught to fit into certain ‘’boxes’’ and to never venture out of them. You look this way, you behave this way, so your interests and hobbies must match your appearance. You are quiet so you can’t be president or prom queen. You’re beautiful so you can’t be smart. You’re a ‘’nerd’’ so you can’t be an all-star athlete. You’re an amazing athlete, so you can’t be valedictorian. You mustn’t move beyond what is expected of you. They expect you to be stuck in your books, so you do just that. You align with the norms, you align with everyone’s expectations, you never shatter them. You forget that by just allowing yourself to live, regardless of what anyone thinks of you, you’re able to reveal to the world how incredibly complex and amazing you are!
Truth is, the world isn’t completely black and white, A or B, C or D, this or that, and many of the dichotomies we’ve been conditioned to accept as our only choices don’t even exist. The people who claim to fit into these dreaded stereotypes are suppressing a major part of themselves to embrace another. Your personality is bigger and more intricate that anything that can be defined. Don’t allow these ‘’rules’’ or conventions to stifle your personal growth, as you begin to try to fit yourself, your likes and dislikes, individual traits and tendencies to fit into a box that doesn’t even have your name on it.
I’m perpetually perfectionistic. I’ll study and aim for an A on every test, as I always want to see myself excel, to do my very best. I’ll daydream, lost in my thoughts, yet still manage to find the strength to accomplish whatever it is I want to do. I’m shy yet enjoy public speaking. Socially awkward yet a great conversationalist. Strong but sensitive. Shy yet bold. I dance, and I cheer. I’m ambiverted, equally introvert-extrovert. Should I deny a part of myself because I don’t fit your expectations?