The Other Side of the Geek Coin

This entry is vulnerable. You've been warned. It's 100% okay to skip this and poke around for the normal, happy geek stuff.

Well then, let's continue.

A few things have recently given me pause about claiming my identity as a geek. Not because I'm sorry or planning on changing it, and not because I'm deep and introspective, but because my therapist is literally making me. I struggle with anxiety in a way that's totally changed the course of my life and I think some of that has to do with the other side of the geek coin.

1. I've been editing an essay about the pain of standing out. It was originally part of my thesis...which was also about being a weird little kid. I'll post it after this. I want it to be funny. I want all the essays from my book to be funny. It's okay to laugh, healthy even. But there's something else.

Many people have remarked about how different the world is now and how much easier it is for those of us who love comic books and action movies and sciencey stuff. But it wasn't always that way. And it wasn't just pop culture that earned me my moniker. It was this.



Like...my face. And my clothes. And my clumsiness, social anxiety, and awkwardness. Everything was, in a word, terrible. (At school, anyway.) Until I met new friends in junior high who adopted me and taught me a little bit about how to blend. I desperately wanted to look like a girl and not like a sickly little boy, so the fact that my first new friend had a mom who was a professional hair stylist definitely proves there is a God and he is loving.

My efforts since that semi-traumatic childhood to reclaim those years of deep-seated vulnerability are what lead me to become a writer. I churned out nerd stuff for content farms starting in 2007.  It was my day job. Because what else are you gonna do with all that knowledge sitting in your head from years of watching movies and tv? That content came out as half movie/tv reviews and half deep, psychological, trauma-based tips and tricks.

We had a friend over recently and we were looking at terrrrrrrrible old YouTube videos we made for a laugh. Even within some of my early theme park stuff from a decade ago, I was talking about panic attacks as a "joke". There are plenty of embarrassing entries here where you can really tell I'm trying to work something out psychologically.

And still today, I try to shrink myself away. I hide. I'm over-sensitive. I'm certain people hate me. I'm desperate for approval and belonging. That makes me a perfect mark for bullies sometimes. I can't even believe I'm saying that as a thirty-six-year-old woman. But I still do people's homework for them in a lot of ways. I still wear a kick-me sign, even if it's invisible. I'm petrified of getting in trouble or doing the wrong thing. And I HATE victim noise. But I'm telling you what anxiety has done to my life. I'm working really hard to change it. But it's been shockingly difficult.

It's...it's not cheerful experience is what I'm saying. It's deeply, deeply stressful. And sometimes very sad to see people roll their eyes and look relieved when I walk away because I'm such. a. spaz.

2. Yesterday, when I was searching for some public speaking tutorials for a client, I stumbled across this. And it ripped my heart out. Please be warned, this isn't for the faint of heart. I cried for a long, long, long time after I watched it. Steel yourself.

I have a loved one who survived a school shooting incident recently. It changed them forever. They're resilient and young and funny and beautiful. They'll be 100% fine with time. Maybe not 100%. Life chips away at everyone, right? But definitely 99%.

I'm watching them deal with some of the feelings I once struggled with in my youth, but like...times a million. Because theirs is mixed with the very real fear that they might die because they stand out. I don't want to say anymore because I respect their privacy so much, but I know that millions of kids...kids, you guys...are feeling the same way. And it just breaks my heart.

It's not a coincidence that my career has taken me into the world of simulations, where I spent three years poking and prodding at people's feelings, trying to get them to be more compassionate. I don't know where this entry is going. I just know that I'm in a moment in time that I hope is brief. I'm starting a new kind of therapy called EMDR. I tweet and delete about it all the time. But I'm wondering if this journey I'm on might help someone else. So maybe more tweet, less delete going forward.

That's where I am today. Kinda raw-nervey. Kinda sleepless and anxious. Writing down bad memories and identifying triggers and looking, really looking, at how much my life has orbited around the sensitivity that developed from the early traumas of standing out in a negative way.

I don't have a neat little wrap-up for this right now. But let's see where this goes, eh?