Hi, I'm Shannon (cue support group greeting here), and I have a few tips for nerds from someone who's been there. To say I was a nerd is an understatement. While I was great at academics, I was shy and could barely talk to people. I had frizzy hair, a lisp, a medical problem that caused me to sweat a lot...you see where this is going. I had friends, but I never felt like I “measured up”. Needless to say, I spent a lot of time in high school depressed and frustrated. There were plenty more like me, and we all got teased. Judging from what I've heard, things haven't changed much. While I'm hardly the “success story” some of my fellow outcasts are, I'd like to share a few tips for nerds that might make things a little easier for you.
1. Play to Your Strengths
One of the biggest tips for nerds I'd like to offer is to play to your strengths. It's been said that one reason high school “nerds” often end up more successful than others because they spent school focusing on school as opposed to parties and fashion. Even if they weren't academically gifted, however, there are quite a few cases of someone who indulged a “nerdy” talent making it big later. For instance, xfinity states that Steven Tyler and Steven Spielberg were big “band geeks”. They saw that the skills they had were a lot more permanent than looks and popularity are. To see who else was bullied, check out huffingtonpost.com and madamenoire.com.
2. Look toward the Future
As hard as this is to see now, high school will end. When that happens, all the BS about who's popular and who's not is going to go straight out the window because it really doesn't matter anymore. While there will always be some “stragglers”, most people grow up enough after high school to realize that what you can do and how you treat others will take you a lot further than how you look or who your friends are. That's not to say there's no value in knowing the right people or that things like nepotism never happen, so much as that social standing won't mean as much as your other assets.
3. Get Active-join a Club or Activity
One good way to make friends is to join a club or activity. This makes perfect sense when you think about it; the fact that you've joined the same club by definition means you have interests in common. It also gives you an opportunity to meet people you wouldn't have before. When I started meeting people in band, etc who were in other grades, I was much more comfortable because I could be myself without any “preconceived notions” about me getting in the way. When you're not around people who think of you as that shy kid in the corner, you're not as likely to act that way.
4. Go out of Your Way to Be Nice
Make it a point to do things for other people. If the person next to you breaks their pencil, offer them another one. If someone is having trouble in class, offer to tutor them. It might help to let inform the teacher of your interest and let him set it up.
5. Be Mindful of How Your Behavior May Be Seen by Others
This isn't to say that you should walk on eggshells, so much as think about how you might come across. When a high school friend of mine told me she once found me intimidating, I was completely taken aback. Even though I was one of the nicest people on the planet, she was always afraid that she would say something stupid and I would look down on her. As it turns out, she wasn't alone; my brainy-ness coupled with my shyness made a lot of people think I was arrogant/bitchy/condescending etc. None of this was true, of course, but I would have changed my behavior in an instant had I known that this was how I affected people. If this is a concern for you, ask a trusted friend or teacher about it. Make changes if you want to, but don't feel you have to.
6. Don't Try to Be Friends with Everyone
Regardless of how “cool” someone is, there will always be someone out there who doesn't like them. While there are probably things you can do to make yourself more likable (i.e. talk to people, don't act superior if you're smart etc.), remember that they're not going to “work” on everyone. If they don't like you, that's on them. Whatever you do, though-
7. It Gets Better
Really, it does. High school 'nerds' are often the most interesting and appealing people to be around; it's just that they had to go somewhere else or enter a new phase in their lives (college, etc) to be appreciated as such. Besides, in the adult world, the term “geek” or “nerd” isn't pejorative - in fact, depending on how it's said, it could even be a compliment. You're going to be the cool one some day, sooner than you think.
I'm not telling you these things because I want you to think in “screw everybody” terms, so much as to tell you that the things that seem to matter so much now - clothes, popularity, test scores, etc- won't always. I know I've said it a million times, but it's worth repeating because it can be one of the hardest things to see when we're growing up. In fact, the things that are “negative” now will probably be “positive” later on. I'm not going to say “don't feel bad about yourself” because you've heard that a million times, so much as “look to the future”. Like Katy Perry said, you really are a “firework”. Were any of you picked on or bullied in school? If so, what helped you get through? Do you have any advice to give? Let's talk.