Not all nerds are one size fits all. You see, we’re tailor made, for not all of us are four eyed and spend hours upon hours poring over books and notes, although I was guilty of both. We’re far from being Sheldon from the Big Bang Theory and we most certainly do not nonchalantly list statistics on world hunger during family meals. Although, if you do, you’re always welcome to my family meals…because who doesn’t love Sheldon?
Every class has two types of students: those in the front few rows and by default, those in other rows. It doesn’t take much skill to spot the nerds: we’re often nodding at the teacher, smiling at their “punny” jokes, listening intently while wearing the trademark animated expression (with pride) and taking notes at the speed of light, lest we miss out on a detail that may appear on the exam.
We hold onto our planners for dear life, follow the syllabus as though it were the Ten Commandments and utilize Friday nights to “catch up” on deadlines for the next two weeks. The following Friday, we do the same thing. Creatures of habit, we seldom miss a day of class, come rain, snow, sleet or hail. If 100 percent attendance doesn’t take effort, I don’t know what does!
In high school my friends had roses falling out of their lockers, while I had books falling out of mine. It was here that I was almost always with my fellow researchers in the science lab to test the effect of [insert some reactive agent here] on [insert strain of bacteria or something similar here]. I had my research goggles on more than my summer shades and had more experience with mock-ups to present my research findings than I did experimenting with makeup. One summer, I sent 68 emails to research institutes that would permit a high school student to conduct an independent project to enter into research competitions. Who knew, the 68th time was the charm. When there’s a nerdy will, there’s always a way!
If my college friends ever had trouble reaching me, they would often find me in my “spot” at the fifth floor of my college library, and kidnap my books. The only ransom they ever demanded was for me to ditch the library and hang out with them. Clever friends, for I went wherever my books went. Just kidding!
During the days when I felt like “slacking”, I would take a seat in the second row and sometimes even the third. Talk about taking a walk on the wild side. Those who weren’t in the front row, namely, some of my closest friends, had the most fun during their schooling years. They somehow always knew how to strike a perfect balance between work and play, and if they ever played too much, they always had friends in the front row to memorize notes with 30 minutes before the exam. By the end of the semester, they always ended up doing just fine, the only difference being, they probably made more memories along the way.
My mother will tell you she never had a problem coaxing me to complete my homework or a project. I was often my own disciplinarian after a while. I realized that education equips individuals with tools to become self-starters and with knowledge, upon which a strong foundation of expertise can be built. In the realm of letters and numbers, little is out of our control. With our noses buried in books in our ivory towers, a common misconception is that nerds are merely book smart. Being one represents more than just straight A’s and high GPA’s; it embodies an overarching intellectual curiosity in life coupled with a strong work ethic. We recognize that the teachings of those before us become immortalized in the books they leave behind. It’s probably easy to conjure an image of an introverted individual huddled over his/her books when thinking of one but the vast majority of us will tell you that while learning does happen in isolation, we’re quite socially adept and can meander into a lighthearted conversation and small talk as easily as we can an intellectual conversation.
Above all, we aren’t smarter than the next person, far from it actually, for everything we attempt to learn, is accomplished through sheer hard work and discipline. It’s probably a double edged sword: nerds secretly hope to be as carefree and spontaneous as those who aren’t, yet we take pride in those characteristics that make us the way we are.
One thing I know for sure, being one is no better than not being one. In the end, we all do the best we can.