When I was young, no one admitted to being a nerd. You did not broadcast that you loved reading the "Little House on the Prairie" series so much that you had imaginary conversations with Laura Ingalls. Only your fellow geeky friends knew that you spent your weekends dedicated to "Dungeons and Dragons." You kept quiet your FORTRAN programming expertise or your quest to earn scouting badges. At all costs, you tried to blend in with the other junior high kids: wearing Jordache jeans, feathering your hair, watching "Mork and Mindy" and listening to Duran Duran. For back in the 1980s, being a nerd labelled you as a social outcast. As evidence, consider this handsome devil from the 1984 movie "Revenge of the Nerds." Trust me, NO ONE was striving to be this guy:
Fortunately, we nerds in the 21st century live in a resurgence of a nerd culture. We form posses and celebrate our passions. I now embrace my nerdiness with all the gumption I can muster. In fact, one of my all-time favorite revelations occurred last year when a clever student noticed that my name could easily be modified from Joyner to JoyNERD. How did I miss this? One mere consonant can transform my last name to a Nerd of Joy?!? Heart. Be. Still. However, think of what disastrous consequences that nickname could have conjured in the less-enlighted 20th-century social hiearchy of my junior high.
Current neanderthals who still negatively label should consider John Green's words. If it's too long for you to read, let me summarize it: who could fault someone for finding joy?
So, my dear students of the Class of 2018, I invite you to find and nurture your inner nerd. Don't be afraid to let your freak flag fly.
Do you still play with Legos?
Do you have passionate opinions about font choices?
Are you obsessed with cooking?
Does it make you INSANE when someone doesn't know the difference between Marvel and D.C.?
Can you recite lines - nay, entire scenes - from The Office?
Do you know the score of every NBA Championship final? the batting averages of the Chicago Cubs players? the ranking of the top tennis players?
Are you an anime aficionado? a K-pop fan?
Are you in the quest for the perfect slime recipe?
Do you know the color of light saber of each Star Wars character?
Do you spend your birthday money on Cosplay?
Do you love to plan trips, real or imaginary, with complete itineraries?
Does your heart beat faster when you see books on medieval weaponry?
Do you critique movies and create your own films?
Are you already working on your first novel?
Do you know if Dragon Ball Z came before or after Dragon Ball Super?
Do you sketch fashion design?
Do you know more than Mr. Carris about the Civil War?
Do you dream of being accepted to Hogwarts?
Are you over-the-top obsessed with your favorite Youtuber?
Do you know the difference between an ollie, an FS dark flip,a kick flip, and a 50-50 grind?
Is organization and design your passion?
Do you regularly watch C-SPAN?
Do you choreograph your own dance moves?
Do you recognize makes of cars by their bumpers?
Are you a collector of baseball cards? Pokemon? Watches? Model trains? Athletic shoes?
Do you imagine yourself playing at Carnegie Hall when you practice the violin?
Do you specialize in 1980s metal bands?
Can you design entire Minecraft worlds in your sleep?
Do you have multiple Pinterest boards devoted to Broadway musicals?
Would you rather be painting than reading this post right now?
If you don't have a passion - something to love, love, love - I am sorry. I hope that you will not be afraid to find joy in simple places and in complex ideas and to share that joy with others.
It's important not just for you - and not just for the Nerd Culture. It's important because we need passionate people - not apathetic people and not a "meh" citizenship. Passionate people - that's right, nerdy people - create change.
Don't be afraid to be a super fan of something that is not cool in your social clique. Applaud people around you who fail to conform. Allow your own nerdiness to evolve and change and grow. Embrace the diversity of the nerds around you. Ask yourself what we can do to create and maintain a culture where people are empowered to be their very best selves to create our very best world. Nerds of Room 205 unite!