I fought it for a long time growing up, my inner geek that is. I spent much of my early years of childhood (up until about age 11) trying to fit in. Be like every other kid in my school. I was athletic and it allowed me to hide amongst the so called popular kids. None of them knew me, none of them were my friends. I would play a game of basketball and slink back to my apartment (an apartment which I was growing increasingly frightened of).
In fact, I bet if you went back and asked any kid I went to school with up until 6th grade not a one would probably remember me. As my confusion over why I didn’t fit in began to become a large part of my life I began to increasingly turn to writing for escape. I didn’t know it then but what I loved would later define me as a big giant geek.
I may have been the only ten year old who could write a thesis on the Twilight Zone. Who could tell you the history and background of all the popular super heroes. I think I saw Star Wars 128 times (a slight exaggeration but not much). I stayed up late on Friday nights and watched Creature Features, delighting when a Vincent Price movie came on.
I never really talked about any of these things with kids my age. I knew there were others like me but I was not good at reaching out. There was some part of me which screamed, “look at me!” but it was always in my head. I would become the invisible kid. When we moved to San Francisco and a new school I simply decided to invent a new me. My first year there I spun stories as large as the Grand Canyon about who I was and what I could do.
I was popular for about a nano second. Interestingly, it wasn’t the stories which cost me. I lost my popularity long before I lost the stories. It was like I had some sort of albatross hanging around my neck and the other kids could see me for what I was. It didn’t matter much in the end. Those kids were bullies and it wouldn’t be long before I declared open warfare on their teasing tactics.
It was then I met Steve & Bill. We would be inseparable friends for the next few years. They loved comics, science fiction, horror, Bo Derek. Suddenly, I had someone to talk to about things I cared about. It changed me. I became less timid. The world didn’t scare me as much. I had places I could go hang out which were far away from the zoo I called home.
High School would be a weird time for me. We moved from San Francisco and away from my friends. For the next two years I was on a BART train as often as possible going back into the city to hang with them. I would eventually make new friends but it wouldn’t be until I moved out on my own where my life would really take off. Weekend long bouts of Dungeons and Dragons. Computer game marathons. I actually taught a class on comics at the local libraries.
When college ended I knew who I was but it would still take me years to feel comfortable in my skin. These last few years I have begun to realize my geeky self probably helped me get through childhood. Gave me something to identify with. A place I fit in. I wasn’t uncomfortable because I was different. I was uncomfortable because somehow I had let the adults around me as a child convince me I wasn’t important. That I didn’t fit in. They were right in a way. I didn’t fit in but it was their world view I didn’t fit into. I fit into mine just fine. Once I learned to embrace my inner geek my world became one of potential and possibilities.