I’ve been a nerd my entire life; an obsessive, arrogant, hard-to-please smartass whose mother had to beg to drop the school books for a few minutes as a teenager. The kind of nerd who one day meticulously learned the dictionary word-for-word, spends hour reading encyclopedias for fun, and writes a blog as a method of self expression (eight years and running, baby. This post is in fact a reply to another I wrote five years ago entitled“Nerds make better lovers”).
I’m proud of my nerdiness. Yeah, sure, it means that I am socially inept amongst people I regard as stupid (but most people are stupid), and that I get lost in my own hurricanes of useless overanalyzing. It means that I often obsess over the smallest of details, and simply not understand why others do not feel the same way. It means that many people can’t handle me too, but they’re usually the ones I think are stupid anyway. Worst of all, it makes me the thing I like least about myself; a distructive, unyielding, apathetic control freak.
But my nerdiness, beyond any other personal characteristic, has very much helped me a lot in my life thus far. My obsessing gives me the self-confidence of knowing that I know better, regardless of how much more experience you have. It often intimidates people, allowing me to have leeway to get things done the way I find most appropriate. It gives me stamina to pull all-nighters and to spend 18 straight hours reading the same book.
Speaking of books, the other day, I came across a book called “The Nerdist Way: How to Reach the Next Level (In Real Life)” by Chris Hardwick, and a few parts of it really strung a chord. If you’re a nerd, or a geek, or any other type of obsessive freak, you might enjoy these paragraphs:
“Because of our mutant powers of obsession, it’s my guess that a lot of nerds suffer from addiction. Nerds get caught up in minutiae, because there is a tremendous and fulfilling sense of control in understanding every single detail of a thing more than any other living creature. But we also tend to have a very active internal monologue (in some cases, dialog). These are some delightful ingredients—mixed with a bit of genetic predisposition—for overdoing things that make us feel good in the moment.”
Oh, not wanting to think about the consequences and instead deciding to do what feels good. We’re a smart bunch, afterall, fire-quenching can happen later, right? Palm. Forehead.
“The substance isn’t the problem. Substances are neutral—but abuse of the substance is an expression of an underlying issue. Your job in recovery is to try to dig that up and sign an armistice treaty with it. Quitting only provides the clarity to discover the problem and then start solving it. These can be troubling waters to navigate, because years of artificial coping may have stunted your emotional growth. I became incredibly emotional in the beginning, because it had been so long since I had to just use my own brain to deal with things. It’s like that scene in The Matrix when Neo first gets rescued and he’s on the operating table and says to Morpheus, “Why do my eyes hurt?”
Morpheus answers, ‘You’ve never used them before.’”
I probably have the world’s most addictable personality. I get addicted to anything that makes me happy at any given point in time, whether it be food, a book, a person, a place, an idea. It sucks, cause addiction consumes you, even when the substance itself isn’t a harmful one at all.
“Whether it’s games, alcohol, painted figurines, film continuity, or conversations where we’re convinced someone doesn’t like us because of something we said, nerds obsess. We zealously deconstruct. We have that very active internal monologue. I think many of the things we undertake are, in part, attempts to drown out that monologue. We are hyper-self-aware. We have difficulty “chilling out.” We tend to suffer from depression and anxiety. Sometimes it can get really bad. If you’ve never had a panic attack, for example, I’ll describe it thusly: Imagine being f**ed in the heart. In most of these cases, barring severe chemical imbalances, the raw material here is obsession, and with practice obsession is harnessable for good.”
On the bright side, if it weren’t for internal monologues, this blog would not exist. And if you got this far in this post, I will assume you enjoy it.
“A “nerdist”—or creative nerd—shares all of these traits but controls them in a way that allows them to deconstruct an idea and map out a plan so the idea can come to life. A nerdist can learn to turn off that internal monologue and calm the mind, the better to think about getting to the next level and its advanced set of rewards and challenges. And while a nerdist will obsess and deconstruct, it’s all in an effort to reach a goal. It’s the nerd’s greatest weakness that is the nerdist’s greatest strength: a laserlike ability to focus on something.
Nerdist = obsession + direction.”
Interesting, I say, but what’s tougher than direction?
The obsession can’t be tamed, or else it won’t be called an obsession. I will try to control my ownmonsters, though being the nerd that I am, I won’t put my heart to something I know for sure I will fail in. The only way to end an obsession, I’ve discovered, is to go with the flow.