My Life Growing Up As A Geek
Geek, nerd, dork are all words that I’m very familiar with. Intimately in fact cause I have lived with them my entire life. I am all of the above.
Growing up in East Side Baltimore wasn’t that much different for me than anyone other kid in the 70’s and 80’s anywhere else in the United States. Those where the days when baseball reigned supreme as the activity of choice among adolescents. Kids got together in little league and would play all summer long til the sunset would drive them home. When it was too cold to play they would dream about the days when the sun would warm the dew from the fields and they could practice hitting bases on imaginary home runs. They would rifle through their baseball cards to memorize who had the most RBI’s or homeruns and who struck out the most batters. Me on the other hand, I couldn’t have cared less about that stuff. I was more interested in what Snake-eyes real name was or what was going to happen in the next STAR WARS movie. I was a geek.
For a lot of people growing up like this things were really hard. Geeks, nerds and dorks were often subject to the growing discomfort others felt with themselves as they neared puberty. Often picked on and ostracized for being different or not wearing the right shoes or having the right hair cut. We were targets for other peoples insecurities.
On top of having to figure out what this life had in store for us we were further isolated by other peoples own shortcomings and fears. We had to deal with bullies, jocks and dickheads of every sort wanting to assert their own strength in front of the masses to establish a pecking order. This is where things were a bit different for me growing up as a geek.
As a child I grew really fast. I was taller then all my other classmate and was in advanced learning classes or GT classes (Gifted and Talented). I excelled in the arts, in music and academics. I was also a really good soccer player. I was a jock without all the jock tendencies and mental deficiencies. For all these wonderful attributes I was made to feel unwelcome by a lot of my peers. I was made to feel that I was a nerd cause I was intelligent and was sneered at with envy and jealousy because of my talents and skill playing soccer. I had all these wonderful gifts that ended up feeling more like a curse.
This made me a pretty unhappy person honestly. It also made me incredibly angry and would have me show my temper on more then one occasion. That was where I differed from all the other geek/nerd kids in that I could fight back and did. I would get in fights all the time growing up when the school bullies would start shit with my friends. I didn’t think of it at the time but I was their defender and wouldn’t think twice about standing up for someone being taken advantage of. Needless to say I got in a lot of fights.
I was lucky in that regard cause I didn’t have to endure being physically picked on like so many other geeks and nerds had too. Despite that I still became very withdrawn and isolated like so many others. I gave up playing sports when I got to high school cause I couldn’t stand the jock assholes. I gave up caring about school cause It was boring and pointless and I could see that clearly.
I was kind of an outcast among the outcasts. I was a bit brutish and didn’t care for Dungeons and Dragons and never got into computers like my other friends cause when I learned how to program I hated it. I was an insider on the outside of the inside. Unlike my friends who grew up to be engineers and programmers I would go a different route in life. I tended to wander around and never really found my place, always just kinda floating with the breeze waiting to stop at wherever it would take me. I never had the focus of my other geek friends. All the isolation I had experienced growing up would kinda scar me and keep me from getting close to people. My D&D friends found their place of comfort in geekiness while I still hadn’t found mine. I was never comfortable in any group and hadn’t found a place to be myself.
What I found for myself was a profound love for toys. I loved the design, I loved the idea of creating worlds with them and I loved that it was something that I didn’t need anyone else to do. I could sit around all day long building amazing machines out of LEGO or set up epic battle scenes with GIJOE. I could go out and buy toys and enjoy them and not have to feel odd cause someone thought it was strange. Toys became my place of comfort. They became my safe haven. They became a way of life for me that to this day is still strong. They also became a way I could relate to other people. I met other toy nerds who enjoyed them just as much as I did over the years. I had found my geek and others who had found it as well. Some of these people have become my closest friends and we still talk on a regular basis about all the new action figures and toys coming out.
I found other outlets and other things that would interest me besides toys. I had started skateboarding when I was really young and would continue til my late 20’s. I would end up quitting almost all together after a series of injuries made it too painful to continue. This was around the time I got my first sponsorship and I was pretty crushed. Even though I had to quit, during my many years skating I made a lot of friends who were also nerds geeks and outcasts. They had all found skating in the same way I did cause they were outsiders as well. Even as outsiders we found a place where we could be ourselves among other geeks.
It took a really long time to find my place in this world but it eventually happened and I have since forged some great friendships. I owned my geek and I let it be who I was and I would eventually find that I wasn’t the only one. There are so many geeks out there, so many nerds and outcasts, there are so many people who don’t subscribe to the Prom King and Queen way of life. They found their geek, they found their nerd, they came to terms with being an outcast and have prospered because of this.
I really envy kids today who are growing up as geeks and nerds because they have the internet. Granted I have used the internet to connect with people as well but kids today have all these resources I didn’t growing up and can expand their world view and explore options I had never imagined back then. It really is a wonderful time to be a geek cause its much easier now. There are still bullies and jock assholes but there are more safe places for kids to explore their geek and meet others like them. This can only help children develop and be happier as geeks and nerds in my mind.
Loving things of the geek-variety is what life is to me. Its about not having to feel like your odd or being uncomfortable in your skin. Being a geek is a wonderful thing that has no shelf life and no expiration date. Unlike being a jock, you can blow your knee out and still play video games or program computers or whatever.
This is an amazing time to be a geek or a nerd. The world is becoming our oyster and more and more people are finding ways to harvest the geeky little pearls inside of themselves and use their geek to prosper.