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The Demi-Goddess of Geeks

In today's society, intelligence is oftentimes accompanied by a bewilderingly negative stereotype. Words such as "nerd", "geek", and "brainy" invoke the psychological imagery of socially awkward loners in thick, horn-rimmed glasses with persistent sinus congestion and no less than three writing utensils on their persons at all times. The archetypal schoolyard pariah is usually a member of the leading academic club and is routinely pummeled by paper balls and erasers. Both in the past and today, some of the leading social insults in regard to young people include "nerd" and "geek", which have somehow become interchangeable with the classic definition of "loser." In the face of this astonishing societal phenomenon, I can only vehemently ask: "Why?" Of the many things in this world that I have resigned myself to never understanding, exactly why intelligence is frequently portrayed as a negative trait will be ever one.

Intellect is one of my passions. Education is one of the most important things in my world. Knowledge is so much a part of me that I often do not know where I end and the dictionary begins. I do not --- I cannot --- understand why cleverness is preceded by such a negative reputation. I do not understand why it is used as an insult. I do not understand why intelligent people are frequently made to feel as though they should be ashamed of their education. Why is it considered negative to be learned? By that logic, to be utterly and totally ignorant of all things save for how to wake up in the morning is the very definition of cool. By that logic, to have merely the bare minimum of acumen required to obtain a menial job that will provide absolutely no self-satisfaction or pride is the height of awesomeness. I would love --- I would absolutely rejoice --- if the proper definition of a village idiot approached me and said: "I know nothing; you know everything; I'm awesome; you're not." I would love to bask in that kind of blatant ridiculousness.

I will never be the most beautiful woman in the room. I will never be the funniest person in a crowd. I will never be the girl who consistently has a boyfriend. I will never have a booming social life. I can, however, be intelligent. For as long as I can remember, I have been known as "the smart girl", "the intelligent girl", "the clever girl", and I absolutely love that. I am so honored and proud that my primary identifier involves intelligence. Why should I not be? Should I blanch, cower, and cry, and say, "Oh, that's terrible! I wish I didn't know how to string together a proper sentence in standard English. Life would be so much easier if I didn't know the particulars of the history of my country and others. Oh, why do I have to know that the earth revolves around the sun? It says something so terrible about me that I can place a face to names such as Da Vinci, Emerson, Einstein, Freud, Austen, Disraeli, and Pasteur. Oh, woe is me! Education has ruined my life!" Does anyone else see the absurdity?

I have always been an enthusiastic, avid reader. I live in a world of my own creation, designed by the works of Jane Austen, the Bronte Sisters, Oscar Wilde, Kurt Vonnegut, Edgar Allan Poe, Edith Wharton, PG Wodehouse, and Agatha Christie. As a child, I lived in a small, isolated community with no neighborhood children my age; I had no brothers and sisters; and we did not travel. Books were the first friends that I ever had! Novels were the first vacations that I ever took! Due to a persistent speech impediment, literature has been the only consistent form of communication that I have had. From the beginning, education has been by my side. It has been my constant, faithful companion. It makes me happy. Why should I be made to feel ashamed of that?

Knowledge is my haven. It is the one area of the world that I can confidently maneuver. Physically and socially, I will always be insecure and uncertain. Intellectually, I can shine! Education has given me the confidence that everything else has denied me. Intellect makes me feel validated. It makes me feel like I matter. Why would people want to mock that?

In a period of twenty-two years, I have become a loud and proud nerd, a contented and dignified geek. No one can make me feel ashamed for being so. I happily claim those words and integrated them into my list of identifiers. I do not consider being a learned individual, an immortal student, to be an insult. I do not consider being educated to be an insult. I refuse to apologize for indulging the needs of the mind before the needs of the body. You've heard of the feminine mystique? I believe in embracing the feminine geek!



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