Hello, my name is Emmy Potter…
(Group members sitting in folding chairs in a circle: “Hello, Emmy!”)
…and I am a nerd.
This is not really earth-shattering information, by any means, but I feel it’s something I need to admit straight up. I’ve always been a nerd-at-heart, honestly, but I’ve spent a good part of my life trying to pretend I’m not (Thank you K-12 grade!). In elementary school, I was the teacher’s pet: I ran errands for my teachers, helped other students work on their homework, and always raised my hand to answer questions. I had quite a few friends, but I wouldn’t say I was popular.
Middle school was the absolute worst. Looking back on it, I don’t think I learned anything in middle school other than how to apply mascara properly, socialize, and all the words to “Baby Got Back” by Sir-Mix-A-Lot. As most of you know, these three things are essential to begin your journey toward being “cool.” I was awkward and frizzy in those terrible three years of my life, always standing taller (I’m 5’10″…just so you know) than most of the boys I had a crush on (unfortunately, this still occurs today). Not only that, but I was a band and choir geek, which I’m sure subtracted “cool” points for me back then. I tried to be part of the “in-crowd,” hanging out with them at school dances and gossiping about and with them. I didn’t see how different we were: they liked things like Nickelback, and I liked things like Back to the Future.
The truth is, I was never one of them, and I was never going to be one of them.
In high school, I devoted myself fully to band and choir, moving myself away from those so-called “cool” people I wanted to be like. I thought stifling my nerd tendencies was a good idea; that I’d be happier because I’d be “cool.” As I became more invested in band and choir, studying music and making friends with genuine and interesting people, I realized I was happier when I was there because I could be myself. At home, my brother and I would have lengthy discussions about Star Wars and whether Gandalf or Dumbledore would win in a fight. I started having these types of conversations with friends at school and guess what? They didn’t run for the hills or laugh; they welcomed them!
In college, I’ve completely embraced my inner-nerd. Now I openly discuss my favorite episodes of Lost (my very favorite is “The Constant” from season 4, btw) and how cool I thought it was that Leonard Nimoy had a cameo in the Star Trek reboot. And I’m not the only one who cares about these things anymore! I’ve found whole groups of people who share my love for these same kinds of things. It’s “cool” here to have Lost watch-parties and sing-along with Lea Michele and Matthew Morrison on Glee!
And you know what? When I go back home, I’m the cool one now: the one who listens to indie bands and has seen all the Oscar contenders and knows that The Godfather trilogy is much more epic than the hair on MTV’s Jersey Shore. I’m cool because I’ve stopped trying to be somebody else and just embraced who I actually am. If, by those former HS classmates of mine, being “cool” means I have to sacrifice loving Sigourney Weaver as Ellen Ripley or crying when I read the last few chapters of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, then I don’t want to be “cool.”
I’ll just stick to being a nerd, thanks. Live long and prosper and may the force be with you.