This morning, I find my self thinking about identity. To be honest, much of my interaction with blogging communities leaves me thinking about who I am, where I belong, how I am accepted, what my identity really is. Talk about my writing voice, the focus of my blog, building a community of readers… all of it leaves me staring in the mirror wondering who I really am and where I can fully be free to explore that who. The only part of this blogging life that doesn’t leave me with identity crisis is the act of blogging it’s self. Writing is where I feel most at home. Once I can get the first few lines down, I find myself moving into the words, leaning into the ideas. I find my self not caring about who I am or what my voice is. Once I crash over the wall the self-critical asshole puts up in my head, once I immerse my self in the words, I feel at home.
In case you haven’t figured it out by now, I am full of self-doubt and insecurities.
Today, I am excited to be a nerd. I blame Hank and John Green (aka: VlogBrothers) and their Nerdfighter ways. I love this nerdom culture that is expressing it’s self in a verity of ways all across the internet. This isn’t just come nerd fad. This is people beginning to unashamedly embrace and find social excitement about the things that interest them: games, science, music, squids, weird trivia, vaudeville acts, comics, cartoons, movies, ecology, history, economics… people are embracing the awesome things they find in their life with the joy excitement. Honestly, it makes the internet (and by extension the world) a better place. It’s a good era in which to be a nerd.
Growing up nerd, I learned self censorship.
In Jr high I got really excited about Einstein’s theory of relativity. When I tried to share my thoughts and dreams about the subject (including my belief that if the theory was true, teleporters were possible)… well that didn’t make me any friends. I learned to fit in, to down play my thoughts, dreams, feelings. I could be a nerd in private, be really excited about stuff when I was alone, but in public I had to be disengaged. I had to act cool.
Because self censorship and hiding your passions is super cool.
When something excites us, we are moved to respond, to act. This is how the world becomes a better place: we get excited about something, do something productive and creative with that excitement, share what we did with other people, pass the excitement on to others who go do and create. It’s a self repeating cycle. We get excited and do something, others get excited because of what we did, we get excited about what they did, etc… It’s not perfect, but it creates progress, change, growth.
Nerds make their circles better, which spills over into the world.
When I’m trying to fit in, I am disengaged because I am afraid of being laughed at and mocked because of my excitement and effort. If I don’t do anything, I won’t be mocked… and nothing will ever really change.
Is that the legacy I want to pass on to my son? If I spend my life disengaged and cool, what will there be to write on my tombstone?
“Here lies Aaron. He was cool. ”
No one wants an epitaph that reads like a teen agers Facebook update.
” No one gets remembered for the stuff they didn’t do.” -Frank Turner
Years of self censorship leads to a life of self doubt.
I doubt people want to hear what I have to say, what I get excited about. I doubt I can say something that won’t be mocked. I doubt people will like me if I let the nerd flag run free.
I know this can sound shallow and full of teen angst, but this is what goes through my head all the time. This is why I am paralyzed in front of my screen most nights, wanting and waiting to give in and write, but only hearing the self doubt fill my head and sap the heart out of my words. This is the constant battle I wage, wanting to be free to be who I am in private, but knowing that I’m not the kind of nerd people like to listen to.
I wrestle to change my mind.
I want to get excited and do something with that excitement. I want to pass my excitement on to you, and in turn get exited at what you do. I want this cycle and to see things become better for us all. I want to be my self, full of theology, literature, music, random facts, psychology, physics, science fiction and fantasy… all the things that my true nerdom encompasses.
What do you self censor? Where are you afraid to let your self be seen? Where are you disengaged from life because of fear?
Tell us, what are you excited about? What are you doing with your excitement?
Truth is, the world will never be better and we will never have a legacy unless we risk the mocking and get excited where others can see.
Maybe embracing the nerd side of life could actually make the world less sucky for everyone. Who knew?