Nerd At The Cool Table


I’ve always felt like I was the nerd at the cool table. But honestly, I think we all are, we just force ourselves to forget that we are. Here’s why

I’ve always felt like I was outta place in the cool crowd. Not because “cool” people are bad people, but there were certain peer pressures, things to do for fun, usual topics of discussion, styles, ways of thinking, etc.,  that I never related to.

But while I try to remain my own person, that doesn’t mean I have never in my life succumbed to peer pressure. We all have. Sometimes I refuse to do certain things, other times I do it cuz everyone else is. So in that way, I always straddled that line between cool and lame in the eyes of my peers.

I never was that cool dude who bagged all the chicks, but I did have girls who liked me, had girlfriends, fooled around with a few, etc. I wasn’t the star athlete who was the most popular in the school, but I was on the basketball team. I wasn’t the prom king, but I got the loudest applause at our high school graduation. I wasn’t a know-it-all, but I usually tried to answer at least one (modest estimate) question in every class, everyday. I wasn’t popular, but I knew a lot of people and even more people knew who I was.

I never ever thought I was a lame, but to other people, I have been called that (by dudes who were in “that crew”, you know the one in every high school that comes 15 deep at parties and coordinate wearing the same clothes at school some days? And by girls , but they usual change their mind when they see my body. Not being cocky, just showing how fickle people can be). I was on the chess team and poetry team for a hot second, I was on the academic decathlon team, and wrote articles for the school newspaper.

But to other people, I was seen as the cool kid. I was on the basketball team, so pretty much my only friends (outside of the Middle Years Programme) were teammates. I also knew about 20 people from my neighborhood and we all went to the same school together. So basically I was too cool to be a lame, too lame to be a cool kid.

I said all this because I think everyone is pressured to choose which side they are on, Cool being “popular, well-liked, respected people who sometimes can care too much about what people say and follow what is hot at the moment” and Lame being “unpopular, liked within their circle, but not respected by the in-crowd, people who choose to be the person they are and be interested in what makes them happy no matter what people think, though sometimes they get depressed because they in fact still do care what people think”.

But honestly, I think the vast majority of people are like me, in the sense that they straddle the line between the two even when they make the choice of what group they will belong too.

Everyone has that nerd in them. That geek who used to love reading, drawing, writing poetry, playing with X-Men toys, building model robots, watching National Geographic, and the History Channel, etc. But somewhere along our youth, we force ourselves to stop doing what we like because other people don’t think it’s cool.

If you ask most people, they’ll swear up and down that they don’t care what people think about them at all. They have always been a straight arrow, flying through life in the direction they choose, doing the things they want to do, and being the exact person they always wanted to be.

We all know thats a huge lie, because being perfectly honest, we do care about other people’s opinion, even it’s the smallest amount we can measure. It’s human nature. You want to belong, you want to feel wanted, so you conform, at least on some level. I’m not saying you sell your soul, but you do change your identity to fit the mainstream some times in your life. (For those who think they don’t, I’ll ask them a very simple question for an example: why don’t you wear FUBU anymore?…………..Don’t worry, I’ll wait)

But for those who transition from the nerds, geeks, and lames to the jocks, cheerleaders, and cool kids, the nerd in them never leaves. We just hide it in front of our friends so we can fit it and not be the butt of somebodies joke. But when we get home, we unleash it in epic proportions in privacy.

We do this the most in high school, because that is the time in our lives where peer pressure effects us the most. But when we get to college things change. You start meeting people who are like you, who have the same interests, same favorite artists, who also collect random things like stickers, who also took karate class, who also are secretly addicted to watching Animal Planet, etc. Here, we go back to the nerd side of the spectrum

But between high school and college, what changed? Did you become more comfortable with yourself? I think yes, but in many ways not really, you just met alot more people like you. They help facilitate the strengthening of your identity. It may seem like you don’t care what people think only because you are more mature and self confident, but also, you don’t care because everybody in yo crew thinks the same way. You have a support system, making it a lot easier to be comfortable with who you are.

They agree with most of what you say, most of what you do, or at least if they don’t, they don’t tell you as much as they would like to, and if they do tell you, you constructively debate, not argue. Now I’m not sayin that you and your friends aren’t each different, individual people respectively, but you do share alot of things in common. This allows you to remember that you are a nerd, and put it out there, because you have enough people to ride or die with you.

But this doesn’t mean you aren’t still affected by peer pressure. You start liking things that you didn’t like before, you start dressing more like your friends, liking the same music (prime example: you ever listen to a song and said “This shit is WACK!” but when your friends start bumpin it, you were like “You know what, its ok”), etc. You still want to look cool in their eyes. You still want to be in agreement on things more than you disagree. You are already in a group, and yet you want try to fit it in even more. Its very ironic.

This is why I think that we all are just nerds at the cool table. We straddle the line when it fits our needs. Its funny when you think about it, because everyone is doing it at the exact same time. We make life an inside joke.

We Out Here,

Josh A

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