I've Got Nerd In My Genes

By: Aurora Castiglia
Friday, July 13, 2018

Here’s a holiday that I’m sure you weren’t planning on celebrating this year: Embrace Your Geekness Day! This day was created by Wellcat Holidays, a source for fun holidays that has been used in Chase’s Calendar of Events, USA Today, The Los Angeles Times, and plenty of TV shows. Of course, they have many other holidays to celebrate, like “Take Your Houseplants for a Walk Day” (July 27th!) and “Be Bald and Be Free Day” (October 14th!). Of course, these are obviously ridiculous days to honor, and won’t exactly get you out of work, but sometimes its nice to enjoy something so unapologetically silly.

Embrace Your Geekness Day, however, is a day I hope to be celebrating with full force. I've been pracitically raised to be a geek. I remember starting and devouring all of the Harry Potter Books when I was 8 years old with my family’s encouragement. I even got to stay up until midnight on July 21st, 2007 with my sister and dad to be there for the release of the 7th and final book, Deathly Hallows. After Harry Potter, my dad handed me the entire Lord of the Rings series to read. Unfortunately, I never was able to finish Two Towers, because I was 9 and no matter what my dad says, that is too young to fully appreciate Tolkien’s word-building. All that aside, I still loved the 12 hour movie marathon my brother, my dad, and I shared when we watched all the extended versions of the movies.

Doctor Who, classic Sherlock Holmes, the Avengers, Star Wars, all iconic names that filled my childhood and teen years. For 3 years in a row during my mid teens, I would dress up as my favorite characters and go to the Niagara Falls Comic Con. My family all helped in the efforts as well, helping me find the exact outfit I needed, or even helping me make the pieces I couldn’t buy. My dad and I still plan movie nights when our favorite franchises have new releases. Despite the connotation that comes with being a nerd, I thrived with the support and love that my family had for me and my passions.

When I went to the hospital earlier this year for a few days for some neurological testing, I was incredibly bored. Hours being tethered to a bed, I stuck in one room, I wasn’t allowed to even roam the halls. But thankfully, I had some friends come to the rescue. One of the things that my dad pointed out to me was that the people who tended to stay the longest in the room with me were the people I play board games with. We pulled a table up to a chair for me and they’d spread out dice, game boards, cards, character sheets, you name it, and we’d play to our hearts content. Though all my friends were a delight to see, there was something different about having someone you care for standing in a hospital room and you worrying that they’re bored or uncomfortable, and someone playing a game or talking passionately about a shared interest to keep you company. Through this hard and nervewracking time that I spent at the hospital, it was the geeks that always seemed to help the most.

Being a geek wasn’t always just pop culture references and favorite characters, it used to be something that you ought to hide. When I told my dad that my friends and I had begun playing Dungeons & Dragons, he was genuinely shocked. I got him to explain that when he was young, he had played the game as well. But it wasn’t something that he’d invite people to come and learn for a fun relaxed night, it was something he whispered about when planning because he didn’t want to be bullied for the game. Sometimes I affectionately make fun of my dad for just being bitter that being a nerd is “cool” now.

It’s uncomfortable for me to think about something that has brought me so close to those around me as something to be ashamed of. I can’t imagine not telling people about my favorite superheroes, my foolproof theory on how to make the Star Wars prequels better, or how I once met William Shatner in a hallway and it was amazing. I’d never want to be ashamed of gushing over how amazing the movie Logan (2017) was with my brother, or of getting into laughter-filled fights with my sister about who belongs to the superior Harry Potter house. I don’t ever want to let go of the joy in my dad’s eyes when I told him I wanted Dungeons and Dragons dice for Christmas last year. I don’t want to feel embarrassed about the amazing dress my grandmother helped me make for my favorite Comic Con that I’d ever gone to. I don’t want to let go of the countless hours spent with my friends playing games and sharing beloved movies and debating frivolous fan theories.

There’s an odd sort of joy in finding people that share your passion, and I can’t imagine hiding that. Even for people who don’t share that passion, they can at least recognize it in me, and I can recognize there’s. We might even show each other something that we’ll learn to love. We need to celebrate the things that make us memorable, that separate us and connect us all at once. The more we share about ourselves, the more we open ourselves to finding connections with others, and that's a powerful feeling. Even in times of fear, doubt, grief, and pain, these are the connections that help us through it all.

So today, and any day after, I dare you to Embrace Your Geekness, and be unafraid in sharing your passions with the people you love.

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