photo courtesy of Gage Skidmore. (CC BY-SA 2.0)

“When You Were a Kid Were You Called a Nerd?”

When a person makes fun of you, when a person is cruel to you, it has nothing to do with you. It’s not about what you said. It’s not about what you did. It’s not about what you love. It’s about them feeling bad about themselves. They feel sad.


Wil Wheaton spoke at the Denver Comic Con this past weekend. During the question-and-answer session after his talk a young girl made her way up to the microphone in the large conference hall to ask him a question about his childhood.

“When you were a kid were you called a nerd and, if so, how did you deal with it?”

I loved his response. Bottom line: It’s not you,it’s them.

Read Wil’s entire response below—with link to the video at the end.


When I was a boy I was called a nerd all the time—because I didn’t like sports, I loved to read, I liked math and science, I thought school was really cool—and it hurt a lot. Because it’s never ok when a person makes fun of you for something you didn’t choose. You know, we don’t choose to be nerds. We can’t help it that we like these things—and we shouldn’t apologize for liking these things.

I wish that I could tell you that there is really easy way to just not care, but the truth is it hurts. But here’s the thing that you might be able to understand—as a matter of fact I’m confident you will be able to understand this because you asked this question…

When a person makes fun of you, when a person is cruel to you, it has nothing to do with you. It’s not about what you said. It’s not about what you did. It’s not about what you love. It’s about them feeling bad about themselves. They feel sad.

They don’t get positive attention from their parents. They don’t feel as smart as you. They don’t understand the things that you understand. Maybe one of their parents is pushing them to be a cheerleader or a baseball player or an engineer or something they just don’t want to do. So they take that out on you because they can’t go and be mean to the person who’s actually hurting them.

So, when a person is cruel to you like that, I know that this is hard, but honestly the kind and best reaction is to pity them. And don’t let them make you feel bad because you love a thing.

Maybe find out what they love and talk about how they love it. I bet you find out that a person who loves tetherball, loves tetherball in exactly the same way that you love Dr. Who, but you just love different things.

And I will tell you this — it absolutely gets better as you get older.

I know it’s really hard in school when you’re surrounded by the same 400 people a day that pick on you and make you feel bad about yourself. But there’s 50,000 people here this weekend who went through the exact same thing—and we’re all doing really well.

So don’t you ever let a person make you feel bad because you love something they decided is only for nerds. You’re loving a thing that’s for you.


Watch on YouTube here: http://brad.me/wilnerd