10 Ways Being a Nerd Might Help Me When I Grow Up.

Via Jennifer S. White
on Feb 19, 2013
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While I’ve certainly considered myself cool at various points in my life thus far, I definitely think I’ve spent a fairly good portion being a straight-up nerd.

I’d also like to say that at 33 I’m a grown up, but there is proof that points otherwise.

Example: I’m writing this blog underneath the cover of my Strawberry Shortcake blanket, and no, I haven’t had it since childhood; I actually registered for it when my husband and I were pre-wedding shopping and thankfully, I have the sort of sister-in-law who happily purchased it for me.

I digress.

Without further delay, here are 10 ways that being a nerd might help me when I grow up, one of these days.

1. I march to the beat of my own drum.

I wouldn’t go so far as to say that I’m eccentric (which isn’t bad, I just don’t think that I have the right credentials), but I do consider myself to be authentic and original. I remember realizing at one point in the eighth grade that I’d spent a good portion of my little life trying desperately to fit in—and desperately failing. I spent the rest of my educational life not giving a hoot if I fit in, and that helps when you question the direction of other “adult” subjects like politics, food choices and parenting.

2. I love science. 

Sure I teach yoga, but my degree is in geology and I’ll always be part-scientist in my heart. Being a scientist doesn’t mean that I worship the Discovery Channel or stop eating eggs because they’re deemed bad for me (before they’re re-deemed healthy again). It means that I, ahem, think for myself (read #1) and I use my brain and my reasoning skills along with the useful tools of my heart. (Well, that’s what it means to me; you might find a different definition if you Google “scientist.”)

3. (Different) music rocks. 

I love music, and was very into “indie” music back in the day, not because it was different (although that surely wasn’t a bad thing then), but because it’s simply good music that just didn’t get signed by big labels, and you know what? There is still a huge pool of music out there that you’ll never hear if you don’t look outside the box (or go on, say, NPR’s website to search tunes rather than listening solely to Kiss FM). Another perk is that since I’m not tied to what’s popular at the moment, I can happily blast Edith Piaf and revel in her rich voice and colorful (French) lyrics and instrumental sounds.

4. I still read. 

I do own a TV now, but I still don’t watch it a whole lot. Why? Because I would so much rather sit down with the book I’m currently reading (and thankfully, so would my wonderfully nerdy husband).

5. I love to learn.

This is a hallmark of the modern-day nerd: unapologetically loving to learn new things. I adore when my husband tries to teach me about what he’s currently researching for his job as a physicist. I also thoroughly enjoy reading about intellectual subjects that at first glance are over my head. I love learning so much that I sometimes think that this is what draws me to yoga: the reality that I’ll never learn everything—and this thirst for knowledge can definitely help you on your road to success (and I don’t mean monetary success).

6. I’m nice. 

I think if you grew up being a nerdy kid, you likely got your feelings hurt a lot, at least if you’re sensitive like me. I’ve definitely tried being the cool, mean kid (and in retrospect, I’m extremely sorry for those periods), but it didn’t work for me. In part, this is because I’m nice, and I find that I’m happiest when I’m kind to others. I think, generally speaking, the world would be a much better place if we all focused on doing what makes us come alive while being kind to others in the process.

7. I have a thin skin, but I still don’t care what you think of me. 

I do have a thin skin. As hinted above, I’ve had moments where I’ve formed calluses and subsequently acted cold and bitter towards others (and myself), but I’ve come to the conclusion that it’s okay to have a thin skin—as long as I don’t hold these feelings too dearly. In other words, yes, I’m affected by the world and people around me, but as someone who marches to my own tune, I don’t give a flying pig’s ear what you think of me. Honestly, could I ever successfully write anything at all if I only cared about how you responded to it?

8. I like yogurt.

 I remember being made fun of in the lunch room at one point because I liked yogurt. Apparently yogurt is not a “cool” food in elementary school (or it wasn’t in the ’80s). I was also a vegetarian (for well over a decade) when it wasn’t cool yet either. You know what conclusions I’ve reached here? What goes into your body shouldn’t be going there because it’s popular to eat (or not eat). For God’s sake, it’s pathetic to eat how someone else tells you to. We should care more about unprocessed, organic, locally grown foods than we should about what’s “in” or what’s “out.”

9. I save money.

I haven’t cared what everyone else is wearing since 1995 (remember said personal revolution in the eighth grade). It saves a lot of money to not buy the latest fads (especially since nearly all of them will be dreadfully uncool next season). That’s not to say that I don’t care what I look like or am not interested in fashion at all. Rather, I don’t care what you’re wearing or what color the latest magazines say I should be painting my nails.

10. Success is personal.

So I know that I kind of linked this blog to the nerdy attributes that will help me be successful when I grow up—and that’s the other thing that being a nerd has helped me with: defining success. Defining success as how much money you make, where you live or anything else to do with keeping up with the Joneses, is, by default, defining your success by what society dictates. As you can imagine, I define my success by how happy I am, by how passionately I’m pursuing my work and by how well I treat the people that I love (and also the ones I don’t particularly care for). How do you define success? Maybe you should take a page from the “Nerd Handbook” and reach into your own soul to answer that one instead of constantly looking outside yourself at what’s happening extraneously.

While I might never grow up or be deemed cool, I don’t care. I’m living my life and, quite frankly, I’m enjoying it.

I like watching PBS and listening to NPR’s All Songs Considered; I like reading books from which I learn new concepts; I even like classical music (preferably baroque—I possibly took nerdy to a whole new level, I’m aware). Yet more importantly, I’m creating my own reality of what is right for me and for my life.

Are you?


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Ed: Brianna Bemel


About Jennifer S. White

Jennifer S. White is a voracious reader, obsessive writer, passionate yoga instructor and drinker of hoppy ales. She’s also a devoted mama and wife (a stay-at-home yogi). She considers herself to be one of the funniest people who ever lived and she’s also an identical twin. In addition to her work on elephant journal, Jennifer has over 40 articles published on the wellness website MindBodyGreen and her yoga-themed column Your Personal Yogi ran in the newspaper Toledo Free Press. She holds a Bachelor’s degree in geology, absolutely no degrees in anything related to literature, and she currently owns a wheel of cheese. If you want to learn more about Jennifer, make sure to check out her writing, as she’s finally put her tendencies to over-think and over-share to good use. Jennifer is the author of The Best Day of Your Life, available on Amazon and Barnes & Noble. She's also as excited as a five year old to announce the release of her second book, The Art of Parenting: Love Letters from a Mother, available on Amazon.


5 Responses to “10 Ways Being a Nerd Might Help Me When I Grow Up.”

  1. @downwarddog says:

    If being a nerd means being nice to others and liking yogurt – than I am proud to wave my big 'ol nerd flag! I admire a woman that is not afraid to call herself a nerd and Jennifer I'm glad to have a nerdy friend and fellow yoga teacher like you in my world!

  2. Vision_Quest2 says:

    As long as that nerd, by dint of being a yoga teacher, does not materialize into a Wonk: more specifically, a theatre geek or Drama Club wonk …

    You know the kind of wonk I'm talking about … the kind that sucks up to the Class President and brown-noses the Head Cheerleader …

    A regular nerd … who Remembers Where They're From… I'm all on board with THAT.

  3. Jennifer White says:

    Thank you! This really means a lot to me. Being the "new girl in town" is always a challenge, and I very much appreciate your feedback as a fellow teacher and writer. Thanks again!

  4. Jennifer White says:

    Uh, you lost me.

  5. Vision_Quest2 says:

    Well, this is how it starts: the nerd becomes a little bit of a comedian (NEVER Falstaffian–never a clown, which is the kiss of death to this metamorphosis–and never using much subtlety–so a sense of slapstick, wit and physicality help, in this regard)… because they can actually get a positive reaction from the "cool kids" at "proverbial school culture" (to continue this analogy) … so then there is the intermediate step of getting all chummy with the Debate Team Captain … before you know it, the nerd–now regaled into the Drama Club, transitions to wonkhood … soon they forget their old neighborhood, or the wrong side of the tracks from whence they sprung … almost Athena-like into "cool culture"