On the Outskirts of Geekdom

I have never thought of myself as a nerd, geek, or dork, and no one has ever labeled me as such. 

The debate about authentic nerdy-ness or geeky-ness often crusts over a little known feature of “not quite there” geeks or nerds: What about those who appreciate all-things-obscure but may not be well versed on the latest science fiction happenings? How does one distinguish wannabe nerds from those who are allowing their curiosity of off the wall cultural aspects to snowball? More importantly, do folks even try?

I doubt that the answers will come a-rolling in, so I’ll offer personal experiences pertaining to the subject.  

Before I got into heavy metal, little about me could be aligned with nerds or geeks. I was, though, often ostracized for my reserved characteristics, which was just about as close to the above terms as I could get. Thus, nudging me toward having the tendencies of those types: 

Sure, my 10-year-old self found delight in collecting rocks on the way to my Mom’s classroom after school, and she had occasionally taken me to the science store in the mall to purchase a chunk of model quartz. I had, afterward, rushed home to watch Ash and Brock on the Pokémon series, then played Pokémon Yellow on my Gameboy. 

Sure, I also found myself performing dramatic monologues after seeing my older brother rehearse his vocalizations in the mirror. And, sure, by high school band, a quirk of mine had been avoiding squeaks from my clarinet.

Courtesy of cafepres.com

But, a string of preferences had kept me far from nerdom: 

I had never picked up a comic book, and I had not been hardcore into anime. By seventh grade, I had even sold myself short by agreeing to try out (and made it) for cheer leading after someone thought it would “bring me out.” But, in high school, I found myself embracing something else: Heavy metal. 

Metal became a grand marker in my life because it granted a jolt of self-discovery. It remained the go-to choice of music throughout the early part of college. I thought, “Okay. This is my thing.” I subconsciously figured that I did not need other interests in life. 

I could not have been any more incorrect about that last statement. 

Being narrowly focused on metal culture, I had separated myself from other hobbies that could have been just as stimulating. As I had gotten into metal, all I had needed was a Saturday of some Celtic Frost or Entombed lyric videos and a few hard rock documentaries, and I was fine; it was not fine when I discovered that I had been seemly sleeping under a boulder, having never watched movie A or movie B or never having played video game X or Y. 

Little did I know, there were other things to stumble upon. Ironically, metal eventually provided stepping stones to arrive at other thoughts. The genre’s acceptance of obscurities, including outer space themes, ghouls or introspection, was what got me there. 

Midway through college, I had finally stopped headbanging long enough to watch the original trilogy of Star Wars for…*gasp*…the first time (how pathetic, right?), growing very fond of my beloved Chewie; I even caught up on some anime and browsed for manga online.   

…There was a girl who was a geek, but kinda, sorta, not really…
Courtesy of starwars.wikia.com

Present day discussions about phony nerds and geeks leave me examining my inner self for possibly being mistaken as a poser; I understand why people who have long identified as nerds or geeks would want to disqualify wannabes from their sect, and I do not want to be confused with those. I especially understand it since posing is a topic that frequents cyber metal talk. 

My purpose is neither to remove myself from geekdom nor to feel I have to prove myself to nerd royalty, but only, to provide some clarity. On the cusp types, like myself, exist. Though, some might be nodding that they think I am a geek or nerd. Perception is a funny thing.

I admire Spider Man trivia loving geeks and nerds who fully embrace their intelligence, but I wonder if these folks would think I’m just trying to fit in, questioning my sudden desire to check out a comic book store for horror or hero issues, or frowning at my slight smile as I catch a basic (very basic) Star Trek reference.

The ultimate truth is that I would never pretend to know more than I do about any of the above topics, but I do believe in responding to an internal itch to dive on into aspects that make me content, even those that are all-things-geek. It builds dimension to oneself. Maybe I could, one day, find myself reading loads of comics or catching up with the Game of Thrones books. For now, I’m enjoying the venture into the new territories on which I have stumbled. 

To reiterate, I have never thought of myself a nerd, geek, or dork, and no one has ever called me these, but I cannot mute my inner callings to the lesser appreciated quirks of pop culture. 


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