The other night, my kid was getting ready to spend some time with her friends, and she asked me: "Mom, do I look like a geek?"
I was surprised to hear this in some ways, and not so surprised in others. We watch the Disney Channel together. We know what "cool" is. I like to think that the shows I let her watch embrace diversity, though, in that there's nothing wrong with being "different."
My younger brother and I are part of the Napoleon Dynamite slash John and Hank Green slash Nerdfighting Revolution (you can imagine our Sunday dinner conversations), so I don't really see looking like a "geek" as a bad thing.
I wasn't sure where she was going with this, so I told her: "That depends. Do you want to look like a geek? If so, then yes! Do you not want to look like a geek? Then no."
She's seven, so she was somehow okay with this answer.
I couldn't get her question out of my mind, though, so I looked up the word "geek." According to www.yourdictionary.com, "geek" is: "a slang word for a computer expert, someone who loves computers, or someone who is socially or physically awkward."
So . . . that's it. A geek either loves computers or can't function in public.
I guess this weighs so heavily on my mind because it's August, and millions of kids and teens are headed back to school and, quite frankly, those hallways can be treacherous.
Geek. Nerd. Loser. Pansy. Whatever the current "it" word is for someone who is "different" from us–it will be tossed around like confetti, I'm sure.
If there is one message I can preach to the world: there is nothing wrong with being smart or liking a certain kind of music or art. There's nothing wrong with being athletic or taking apart computers. Our loves and interests make us who we are, and, if the people around us can't appreciate that, then we should find people who can.
I LOVE books. I'm a reader, a writer. I don't like taking apart computers, but I've got the "socially and physically awkward" thing down. If that makes me a geek, then good. I spent too many years hiding the real me.
So, my advice to you—young or old, heading back to school, sending kids back to school . . . whatever:
Be the best version of yourself, and forget the rest.
(A lesson I should've learned, oh, fifteen years ago.)
Katie Klein is a diehard romantic with a penchant for protagonists who kick butt. Her YA contemporary romance, Cross My Heart, is an Amazon Teen Top 100 Bestseller and was a 2011 Goodreads Choice Awards Nominee for Best YA Fiction. She is, quite frankly, the biggest geek she knows. You can find her on the web at www.katiekleinbooks.com, http://katiekleinwrites.blogspot.com/, or https://twitter.com/#!/katiekleinbooks.