I grew up as a geek, but I got better. I have no problems with geeks, who I define as generally socially awkward, more introverted interests and as a whole intelligent. Some of my best friends were and are geeky in some way, but I felt shedding some of the less desirable geek traits were in my best interest. Though unintentional, I feel I’ve come a long way from where I was. Holly still laughs at my cringeworthy pictures during this time of my life that are framed on walls in my parents’ home. I feel that while some of my deep traits still remain, I’m a different person. I expect many of us feel like this. The social cast-asides, the uncool. This is my brief story, likely a common one…
I grew up in a small home in semi-rural area on the outskirts of a mid-sized city and a suburb. Due to the lack of neighborhood kids and distance to friends homes, as well as limited transportation options, I didn’t have a lot of friends in my grade school years. My brothers and I spent hours playing first Nintendo, then Super Nintendo to stave off boredom… along with heading over to the storage unit center to throw rocks at stuff and trouncing through adjacent cornfields to find cool junk piles in the wooded areas surrounding them. I was always very bright, and somewhat socially awkward, and my parents aren’t exactly the Kennedy’s with regard to social graces and fashion. Add to the fact I was always small for my age (I went into High School 9th grade weighing about 97-100 lbs, and probably graduated H.S. at a robust 125# or so), wore glasses, had braces, allergies and it’s obvious I wasn’t one of the cool, popular kids. I remember taking a summer computer class in grade school (maybe 4th or 5th grade) where we did a little programming on a Commodore 64, writing basic code in Logo to make the “turtle” make interesting designs through programming directions and kernels. This led to more computer classes in high school (“Basic”, “Advanced” and later, “C”), where I remember programming a blackjack program on my TI-81 to stave off boredom.
My friends in Junior High and early High School were losers who lived in low income housing and were also social outcasts. We did fantasy football even back then (had to score by the Monday paper box scores), played a lot of video games, even delved into Dungeons and Dragons for awhile. I remember feeling vaguely inadequate and knew I wasn’t cool, but in my youth your world is pretty small and you are just happy to do what you want to do. In early High School my aptitude in classes and my ability to play a varsity sport (wrestling) despite my lack of size led me to start swimming in different social circles. I was still a total geek, but remember having a really ugly girlfriend around early high school for a couple of weeks. My skills with the opposite sex were non-existent, and consisted mainly of fantasizing of being smooth like men in the Playboys I read [a quick aside, I had a subscription to Playboy as a 12 or 13 year old boy – my uncle bought it for me with my parent’s permission, pretty odd – like WTF odd – this was allowed when I look back, different times and attitude in my home I guess. I did read the articles though, like I said, not much else to do at home].
Despite my major geekdom and lack of anything resembling quality social skills (with women at least), I made it through ok and was confident (generally) who I was. I was a leader on my team and was a Captain my last couple years. My Junior year I started seeing a girl, and that helped a lot in being more confident with the opposite sex. She was ok looking and came from a good family and we were “in love”. We eventually lost our virginity to each other, and later she cheated on me in the way high school girls do (more like messing around, but to me it was still cheating). Don’t worry, I was a beta with one-itis who took her back and even tried to stay with her while I went away to college.
That shackled my opportunities and by the time I realized it was just a high school romance I had wasted a year of college. Still, I was growing as a person and getting involved in different activities, evaluating myself from a different perspective and opening my mind to new ways of thinking. I didn’t hole up in my room playing video games, or take school so seriously that I spent all my time in the library. My activities even led me to interactions with women and while I was never smooth, I learned that if I could be myself around at least some of them, that would sometimes be enough to draw interest for awhile.
While hypergamy isn’t year dependent, I came of age during a time when grunge was popular, women wore flannel shirts and most had full bushes (or at least trimmed the sides a minute amount to keep from overflowing the underwear). I would call this more of the cusp of slutdom acceptance that the ‘sphere talks about so frequently today. The women in our social circles and the ones who I dated all had very small partner numbers and I don’t know if it’s because of the boy geek attracts girl geek (both with limited experience) type scenario or because I was more likely to date “nice” girls (slutty girls wouldn’t look twice at me – Limited Alpha) or because most girls weren’t as slutty back then. ..anyways, I digress a little. Basically who I am today was somewhat galvanized during my college years. I took that opportunity to be less serious and have more fun, explore and bond with friends over late nights of chemically fueled experiences, and kiss a few toads along the way.
The confidence I gained during this time led me to take chances, albeit small, that have resulted in the path my life has taken. What started as throwing rocks at a cute girl changed my life path [AKA How I met my wife]. Despite my “muscle suit” I now have, my participation in jiu jitsu and other activities , success in my field (that requires a lot of social interaction) and so forth, I’m still a geek at heart. I don’t play video games, except with LoudBoy once in a while, but I still sometimes feel like that socially awkward 10 year old. Fighting against those old insecurities and putting those to bed isn’t something that’s easy to do. However, while the geek within me lives (and I embrace him from time to time as I wouldn’t be who I am without those geek skills), I am working to grow and become a better version of that, to find my path and continue to improve. It’s a constant cycle and complacency isn’t good.
My wife Holly, as a geek lover and a little OCD herself on things, has her own battles as she’s trying to figure out who she wants to be when she grows up. It’s causing her some stress right now as she’s pulling back the curtains of the Great and Powerful Oz and finding it lacking in some areas. She’ll get things figured out, but her desire for the self-improvement analysis has been less than mine (espeically over the last couple years), and my experience and learning has directly translated to a better relationship and family dynamic. I’m hoping that her own personal evaluation satisfies her own soul and further improves who she is as a person, a wife and a mother.