Turning Into The Nerd You Never Wanted To Be
Somehow it doesn’t bother you as much as you thought
I remember reading something about the musician Jack White once. He knew from the time he was a small child that his life would revolve around playing music. He actually moved every piece of furniture out of his bedroom and filled it with musical instruments.
My visions for my life were never that exact, but I had a vague idea. I imagined being far away from the place where I grew up. Images of wealth, a large social circle, and fun hobbies crowded my mind.
Ideally, my future life would be the exact opposite of what it was as a kid.
The nerdy, overweight kid with few friends imagining these dreams wasn’t present in that future. A construction crew would chisel this person away over the years to assure this shiny new life. While they were at it, they’d also do an overhaul on that kid’s brain and pave some roads that would lead to adventure in his cerebral cortex.
As you can imagine, that kid’s plans were far off base. Not exactly surprising if you think about it. You don’t let 9-year-olds plan out critical events for a good reason. If you did, your emergency plan for anything may resort to saving the Playstation first and having a survival stash of Doritos.
As foggy as those original goals were, a common element was cobbled together in there somewhere — I wouldn’t be a nerd. There would be an element of coolness in my life. The things that I didn’t enjoy in that 9-year-old kid would be gone.
As a 42-year-old man, I realize the proverbial bat swung and missed that ball of goals badly. The construction crew actually spent their time fortifying that nerd and stabilizing his foundation.
The really strange thing about this is — I don’t really care.
Kid’s Tastes Suck
I often talk to friends about things we enjoyed as kids. Feeling a bit nostalgic, I’d go back from time to time and try them again. A common theme kept repeating to me.
What the hell was I thinking at the time?
Remember the food you liked as a kid? I sure as hell do. I remember living on a diet on Chef Boyardee Spaghettios and Meatballs.
Have you tried that stuff again as an adult? For the love of God don’t. It’s frigging awful. I can’t tell you how much it sucks. I cooked it up and put a spoonful in my mouth and almost threw up.
Seriously, how the hell did I ever like that stuff?
As I thought about it, I kept having a similar experience. I’d try soft drinks and juices I loved as a kid to find they were putrid and awful. Apparently the childhood connoisseur in me found food appealing if it consisted of 90% sugar.
You think that the construction crew I hired would have warned me about that. No wonder that fat kid you read about was the one doing the dreaming.
I haven’t included this story for humor — it’s here to make a point. Just as your taste buds as a kid can tend to be awful, so can your decision matrices. When you’re small, you have a very limited view of the world.
Your flavor scent isn’t well developed just yet. Spaghettios and sugar are about the extent of your palette. Well, at least they were for mine. It’s the same thing with your mind though. So, your goals and desire can be way off base.
Goals Come With Requirements
When you’re young and your vision is limited, you can only see a present shiny picture. You can’t see how much effort it took to shine the hell out of that work of art. You also can’t see the stress and work it took just to sketch the outline of it.
As a kid, you may see racecar drivers and think they have the coolest job in the world. But, you don’t see the nonstop travel they have to do. You don’t ever see the effort they put into getting to that position. The countless low-level races they fought to win and the danger they put themselves in doesn’t come into the picture.
When you examine that picture as a whole, suddenly being a racecar driver isn’t the coolest job in the world. It’s a ton of work. It’s tons of stress. It’s pretty dangerous as well. I didn’t even get into the constant concentration required — if you lose focus for a second it can result in disaster.
Putting the requirements needed to achieve the goals adds depth to that shiny picture. Sometimes that glowing picture isn’t as attractive as it looks at first glance. Try and explain that to your childhood self that’s gulping down Spaghettios. It’ll be a difficult conversation.
Tossing Out The Spaghettios Of Life
As I grew, I still had this strange outline of what I wanted my life to be. I sought out large groups of different people to hang around with. I’d tag along with the group and go to bars filled with mobs of people.
This was the life that I was missing all these years.
The only thing is…it wasn’t. I never really enjoyed the nights out. Being around friends was fun, but the atmosphere did nothing for me. I’d often catch myself looking at my watch waiting for closing time.
Initially, I just figured it was something wrong with me. But, the honest truth is, that I’m an introvert and a crowded bar isn’t what I would ever enjoy. That goal created by a Spaghettio eater was way off.
The thing that gets me engaged in learning. Now, I’m that dork that drives around listening to books instead of something with a kicking baseline.
A realization also came to me about the large social circle. It wasn’t exactly necessary. A number of people that made up those groups weren’t people I exactly had many things in common with. Going out to bars was about it.
It was easier to shave down the crowd and focus more on people I gelled with on a number of different levels. Being surrounded by a large social circle wasn’t necessary.
My idea of wealth was also way off as a kid. Now, having what I need is more than enough. A Lamborghini isn’t necessary. Especially for a nerd like me. What am I going to do with it? You can only fit so many books in that little trunk.
I began to toss out the cans of Spaghettios that I’d planned my life to be.
Don’t Struggle Against That Inner Nerd
I’m sure many of the things I’ve explained above may sound familiar on certain levels. You’ve probably had your own type of Spaghettio experiences. Turning into that nerd you never wanted to be might just be the most freeing experience in your life.
When you were a kid you saw the world as a magical place. But, you also had a very limited view of what the world consisted of and your place in it. That thing you planned to escape from may be very well what you’re destined to be.
Excitement and glamor come with strings. Often these strings can be as thick as chains. That nerd you fought against becoming might actually be a wonderful person. You’ll only come to realize this though as your vision grows and you exchange your cans of Spaghettios for vegetables and salad.
Thank you for reading my ramblings, if you enjoyed it, please share.