It ain’t fun being called a “nerd” when you know there’s malice behind the words—and a lot of “nerdy” things tend to draw ire from those on the outside. And it’s not exactly a nerds-versus-everyone-else war, because nerds of one feather are just as quick to look down on nerds of another feather.
There are plenty of things that you should never be ashamed of, no matter how nerdy or geeky they may be. Here are some of the more prominent examples that you might even be feeling down about right now.
1. Getting Into Shape
Truth is truth: most nerds are either scrawny or fat. I myself have been a sack of bones for most of my life, and even though I’m not as thin as I used to be, I’m still skinny-shamed from time to time. It sucks when it happens, but I don’t let it get to me—and fortunately I’ve started working out a bit so it doesn’t happen as often anymore.
Now, to be clear: someone who doesn’t give a lick about their health and clings to their skinniness or fatness as a form of identity—that’s not something to be proud of. Your health is important, your current state can be changed, and you ought to have enough self-respect to work that change.
But if you’re skinny or fat and actively working to get into shape? Yeah, that’s definitely something to be proud of. If it feels like people are eyeing you or judging you at the gym, brush ’em off and keep going. Getting into shape should always be celebrated.
2. Glasses and/or Braces
Two of the most stereotypically “nerdy” things. Oh, you actually want to be able to see the beautiful world around you? Oh, your teeth aren’t aligned properly and you want to avoid the problems that it can cause? Anyone who would ridicule you for either of these things is a substandard human being. Unless they’re in third grade, in which case they’ll grow out of it. Hopefully.
3. Personal Finance
You have bills. You have debts. You have obligations, needs, and desires. But you only have a finite amount of money, and you need to manage that money wisely if you don’t want to end up on the streets or bumming off of somebody. Well, that probably means you’ll have to skip out on a few social events and other luxuries, and that’s OK. Don’t let anyone make you feel like a lesser person because you can’t afford a night out on the town or a trip across the country. Enjoy what you can while staying within your budget, and your future self will thank you.
Sitting at home and binge-watching Netflix is so shameful, isn’t it? Well, I don’t think so. On the one hand, you have snobby bookworm types who look down on TV and movies as mindless entertainment, but how is binge-watching any worse than binge-reading? And then you have the happy hour folks who’d rather crawl a few pubs and watch sports for hours, but how is that any better than binge-watching in the comfort of one’s own home? Enjoy your entertainment in the way that you most enjoy it.
Do you get made fun of for reading a lot? Do co-workers and friends boggle at your bookshelf and disbelieve that you can consume an entire book in one day? Well, jokes on them, because reading opens up a world of story experiences you just can’t get on TV or in movies. Don’t get me wrong: reading isn’t better than TV or movies. It’s different. Reading is cool, and as long as you don’t sink into bookworm snobbery, we’re cool.
I’ll be honest: I don’t really get fandoms. Becoming obsessed over a particular story, setting, or series isn’t something I have much personal experience with. Whether it’s music, TV, books, video games—I can’t say I’ve ever been a die-hard fan of anything. But I understand that media can have a deep impact on people, to the point where there’s an intense connection and a lot of enjoyment. Some people are sports fans, others love podcasts, and you’re knee-deep in Harry Potter and Pottermore. Go for it.
The “only nerds play video games” stereotype is pretty much on its way out, but even still there are those—across all generations—who look down on those who play video games as losers. Now, to be fair, I myself used video games as a form of escapism for many years, and it’s reasonable to think that someone who needs to escape from real-life is probably a social outcast in some way. But gaming as a hobby, both video games and board games, has grown quite a bit over the past few decades. It isn’t just for nerds anymore, so play with confidence and own it.
8. Anime and Comics
Anime fans are often caught in a pincer attack between those who see anime as “for kids” and those who see anime as “for perverts.” How could an adult ever enjoy a cartoon? Well, let’s not forget that smash hits like Futurama, South Park, and Archer are animated and drawn for adults. And yes, it’s unfortunate that too many animes have unnecessary fan service, and yes, it’s unfortunate that anime and hentai are often conflated by outsiders. But there’s nothing inherently childish about artwork and animation, so if you’re a fan of mature animes (and mangas and comics), who cares what others think? It’s their loss for missing out on lots of high-quality entertainment that would be too expensive or too technically challenging for live action media.
I don’t really get how creativity is a “nerdy” thing, but I’ve heard it said too many times to count—and it’s often expressed in a way that paints creativity as something unusual or abnormal. As if you’re weird for seeing the world in a way that many others don’t. Now, there is something to be said about going too far and turning yourself into a freak or caricature in pursuit of a unique identity. But I truly believe that everyone is creative to some degree, and it isn’t something to hide or be ashamed about.
10. Small Social Circle
I’m sure you’ve heard this one: nerds are “anti-social introverts.” But is that really true? And even if it were, is it really such a bad thing? Isn’t it more important to cultivate the quality of your friends rather than the quantity? There’s no shame in having a tight knit group of friends with whom you can share your life. Of course, you should never use this as an excuse or reason to blow off friends—or worse, wallow in social anxiety. Absolutely make an effort to build new and meaningful relationships. Step outside your comfort zone. The key is to focus on the fact that these are relationships with real people; don’t reduce it down to a meaningless number on social media.
Here we have what’s perhaps the most hurtful yet most meaningless stereotype in all of nerdhood. Truly, when someone calls you a nerd in a derogatory way, there’s a good chance they really mean virgin—implying that you have no social skills or so little human value that no one would ever be intimate with you. Whoa, there. Your value as a human being has nothing to do with how others see you. Anyone who judges another person by whether they’ve had sex or not is only revealing how shallow and misguided their own values are. There’s so much more to you than your sexuality, so brush it off and hold your head up high.
The Moral of the Story…
I’m not saying nobody is going to judge you for these things. There are jerks out there, and they will have opinions about your “nerdy” things. The real takeaway is that while these jerks exist, you should be confident in ignoring the opinions of anyone who wants to judge you solely on the grounds of being a nerd.
Can you relate to any of these? Are there any other shameful “nerdy” traits or stereotypes that I messed? What “nerdy” things are you personally ashamed of? Let me know in the comments!