It's funny how things reverse when you get older.
When I was in high school - junior high, even - I didn't want to be seen as a nerd. Being a nerd meant you had little to no friends (or if you did, they were nerds, too), and you got picked on not only by the popular crowd, but by others fighting to maintain a decent rank in the cool crowd - everyone else.
When I got to college, I started to realize being a nerd doesn't have the same stigma associated with it as you get older. Maybe its because most of the people in college are there because they want to be there, not because they are being forced. Or maybe its because being a nerd probably means you have a better GPA, which in turn means a better chance at securing a high-paying job.
Money aside, as I've gotten older and my circle of (nerdy) friends has gotten larger, I've come to realize not only do I not mind being called a nerd, but I actually am proud of it.
I think there are varying degrees of nerddom. On a scale of one to 10 - one being someone ultra-cool and 10 being top nerd - I probably only rank about a six. Here's why.
I always was a bookworm, and in grade school English I usually had the assigned novel read within the first day or two of being assigned. But I've never read books like "A Brief History of Time" by Steven Hawking or "War and Peace" by Leo Tolstoy for the fun of it, or ever.
I used to play Magic: The Gathering (for those lesser nerds, it is a CCG - collectible card game), but haven't since my late teens. I've never played Yu-Gi-Oh.
I used to play WOW - World of Warcraft (a MMORPG, or massively multi-player online role-playing game), but I stopped when I realized it was eating up way too much of my time. (That time I now reserve for shows such as "Big Bang Theory" and "True Blood.")
Because of my WOW days (and before that, Anarchy Online), I now have an extensive vocabulary of gamer-speak that is unique to MMORPGs. Some of that lexicon has leaked into common usage, such as text messages (LOL, BRB, etc.), but some of it is still foreign to many. If you have ever called someone a noob or been pwned, you speak my language. However, I didn't write a master's thesis on defining gamer-speak as a language in its own right. (Although I do know someone who did.)
I didn't start playing D&D (Dungeons & Dragons) until I was 19, and my collection of role-playing games is quite small in comparison to my husband's, which takes up multiple bookshelves. (He's probably a 10 on the scale.)
If you know what a d20 is, you'll know where I'm headed next. Sets of dice, unbeknownst to many ''cool'' kids, come in many sizes, shapes and colors. Most people are familiar with common casino dice (d6s, or six-sided). I probably have close to a hundred sets, not including specialty die, such as d30s and d100s. But my collection pales in comparison to that of others. If you're a true nerd, you already know that a gamer can never have too many sets of dice.
I'm not a Trekker, nor am I a Trekkie, and I don't know the difference between the two.
I don't speak Klingon.
I'm not a Star Wars fanatic, and I don't engage in arguments about Episode I, II or III and their adherence to the original George Lucas story arc. (But I do listen wholeheartedly when others do.)
I don't wear a watch that displays time in binary code. (But I know someone who does, and I know where to find one.)
I do love a good convention, and I also think wearing a costume should be mandatory. I was recently seen at All Americon in downtown Warren this past weekend dressed as a fox. I felt right at home alongside Batman and Robin and other various superheroes, villains and anime characters, although I didn't recongnize half as many as I should have. Not only did I not get any strange looks, but I garnered plenty of smiles, with one person remarking, "Your tail's showing."
So whereas some may still see it as an insult, I consider being called a nerd a compliment.
I'm not half the nerd I could be, but I guess I'm still twice the nerd as many.
But I like to think there's a little nerd in all of us.
Where do you rate on the scale of nerddom? Comment on this story at tribtoday.com, or send me a PM at firstname.lastname@example.org.