Last weekend Boyfriend and I were walking out of Gamestop, Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild clutched happily in my hands, and he jokingly asked when I became such a geek. I brushed off the question, only for it to resurface in my brain later on. When did I become a geek? I wondered, feeling like it was almost a trick question.
In truth, I’ve always been a bit of a geek. For the greater part of my adult life, however, I’ve felt like I had to hide it. When I was a kid I owned a Sega, Playstation, and a Game Boy. One of my best friends was super into video games (and Hanson). I fondly remember sleeping over her house and staying up half the night to play Crash Bandicoot, while Mmm Bop played in the background. I’ve been a book nerd ever since I was old enough to read. My obsession with Harry Potter began when the first book came out, when I was around 11 years old. Those things alone were reason enough to make me feel like a geek. But this didn’t necessarily feel like a good thing. Twenty years ago, people typically used terms like “geek” and “nerd” in a negative way. Geeks were uncool, unattractive, and were supposedly destined to live in their parents’ basements well into their 30s.
I didn’t want that to be me.
As I grew older, I constantly felt like I needed to tone down my geeky side. In my twenties I started hanging around people who made me feel like that side of me was childish and undesirable, so I held back. If I saw a cool Harry Potter shirt for sale, I would look at it and think “I wish I could get away with wearing that,” then quickly dismiss the idea. Those types of things were meant for other people – younger people and people who went to fantasy cons, not for wearing in every day life.
Fast forward to now. We’re halfway through 2019 and I’m approaching 31 years old. I’m currently wearing a jacket with a tiny TARDIS pin on it. There’s another pin on my bag that says “Book Nerd,” which I purchased at BookCon a few weeks ago. There is representation of the fandoms I belong to all over the house. I talk about the books I love and other “geeky” topics on my blog frequently. I plan on attending HeroesCon this weekend.
So, what’s changed? you ask.
A small part of it is the fact that nerd culture and being part of particular fandoms is becoming more mainstream. There are comic and fantasy conventions all over the country, nerd makeup brands, Instagram pages dedicated to cosplay, shows like the Big Bang Theory, etc. Being a geek no longer has the same shameful connotation that it had twenty years ago. Not only is it acceptable now, but in a lot of ways, it’s cool. I don’t deny any of this, but at the same time, it’s not the only reason that I’ve decided to stop hiding my inner geek away from the rest of the world.
Ironically, despite all my griping about turning thirty, I’ve learned quite a bit about myself this past year. I’ve started focusing more on the things that make me happy and letting go of the ones that don’t. I’ve stopped trying to hang around people who make me feel like I need to change or hide who I really am and started spending more time around people who encourage me to be myself. I’ve stopped caring what people think of my pop culture shirts and anime pins. If they don’t like it or want to judge me for it that’s their problem, not mine. Finally letting go, not worrying as much, and just letting my inner geek out in all it’s glory has been a huge breath of fresh air. One that I didn’t realize I needed.
For anyone else out there feeling like they need to hide the things they enjoy: Let it out. Let your geek flag fly.