One Girl’s Journey of Learning to Embrace Her ‘Nerdiness’

I spent more years than I’d like to admit being … myself. If you know me, you’d know that means an amalgamation of bad jokes, lame interests and awkward encounters. This also at one point included anime, video games (“Spyro the Dragon” to be exact), tinkering around with my mini toy microscope and spending all of my free time daydreaming about my alternate life as a mermaid.

In 2006 when high school struck, I realized that there was no room for anything I was remotely interested in. It seemed the only thing anyone really cared about were “jams,” basketball and trap music (which, of course, differed from my musical tastes at the time). As much as I don’t like publicly confessing, I had only recently been introduced to R&B and hip-hop in middle school, and still went pretty hard for bands and movie soundtracks (shout out to Danny Elfman and Hans Zimmer).

I didn’t realize it wasn’t cool for my then-15-year-old self to rush home after school to binge watch the Family Channel. I didn’t know mimicking Tyler Perry’s Madea character in public was actually embarrassing. I sure as hell didn’t realize openly admitting I had read each line in the entire Twilight series, but had never opened up a Harry Potter book, was considered social suicide.

The thought never crossed my mind that there might be other brown-skinned girls in the world who’d, like me, seen all the Lord of the Rings movies and attempted to learn how to speak Elvish in The Fellowship. For the longest time, I’d accredited my borderline nerdish tendencies to my older half-brother, who introduced me to the wonderful world of sci-fi, fantasy and alternative Christian rock. In fact, up until then, I’d tried my hardest to hide my secret love for these things under an urbanite blanket of social acceptance. But as they say, all that is done in the darkness [of my basement] would surely come to light.

Now here was my dilemma. I was always under the impression that there was a specific type of nerd. The ones who got good grades, were a part of the science clubs, spoke to no one unless it revolved around schoolwork, and were the apple of their parents’/teachers’ eyes. No one ever mentioned to me that you could be neither of these things and still feel the effects of “nerdom.” I was almost never compatible with any of my peers and never fit in with anyone. My grades weren’t high enough for the geek squad, but good enough to be scrutinized by the more popular crowd. I felt like an outsider when I tried to join my school’s business club run almost entirely by students of East-Indian descent. To the Black kids, I was much too alternative to sit at their table. And for my brownies, I quite simply did not make the cut.

Read more from Lindsey Addawoo at Black Girl Nerds