Tuesday, September 20, 2011

So, I'm a nerd.

I know I promised, and I know you all are just DYING to hear what my opinions are regarding how a convention should be run, but things keep coming up that I think are just a little more important and require a little more of my attention than some pie-in-the-sky ideals I may or may not have about the leadership of local anime conventions. Things that have plagued me since I first decided to become any kind of professional, never mind a participant of the fan community at large. Problems I still have, that keep me up at night, that affect me on a very personal level and I wish would come to an end simply because I’ve come too far.

Let me get specific: As many of you know, I’m still a student at UTEP, and right now I’m taking a semester in Public Relations. I’m currently minoring in communication, and it’s been a pretty rewarding element of my collegiate career so far. It’s through communications that I found an interest in both journalism and internet-based media which helped me to, well, you know. I’m almost at the end of my major now, so I decided to take my final communications course in Public Relations, so I can have a well-rounded minor. I figure since I already have a degree in graphic design, I’ve studied marketing, I’ve studied AND practiced multimedia journalism, a mere semester of Public Relations is the last frontier in my exploration of my minor.

The problem I’ve been having with this course, though is that we’ve been separated into teams that are responsible for finishing the projects through the semester and there’s this one girl on our team who keeps giving me the stink-eye when I walk in the room. If she speaks to me, she uses a very condescending tone. The kind where every word is phrased as a question. “Do you think that was a good idea? Maybe you should have considered something else?”

Honestly, if I made a bad first impression, it’s my fault. I sometimes make bad first impressions. But the continuing, enduring, and frankly unprofessional banter of this one fellow student can only lead to one inarguable conclusion.

She thinks I’m a nerd.

People tend to think that nerd discrimination comes to an end when you’re an adult and you’re in a professional environment like a college. Not so. As long as you exhume the smallest amount of awkwardness, there will always be someone to use it to vault their own plebian egos. I’ve personally been left outside of clubs by bouncers who disliked my sneakers, turned away from cosplay events because it was assumed our cameras would “creep people out”, and had letters sent about me from detractors, suggesting I “wasn’t the right person” to be covering certain events from my cameras. I know all of the responsible parties in these situations and I know for a fact that it has to do with my demonstratively obvious social awkwardness.

All I’ve got to say to that is: GROW UP, PEOPLE!

Okay, so I’m a nerd. Thanks for pointing that out. Show’s that you have eyes that can see. I’m gonna skip the usual soliloquy about how nerds actually rule the world. I don’t necessarily agree with that myself. Instead I’m going to talk to you a bit about what it actually means to be a nerd.

There’s this one very popular episode of the Twilight Zone called “Time Enough At Last.” It stars Burgess Meredith, the man most well known as the Penguin in the 1960s Batman. He plays an awkward little man with coke bottle glasses who does nothing with his time but read. Because of this, he’s picked on by his boss and his domineering wife. To make a long story short, he survives the atomic bomb and becomes the last surviving man on earth. Happy as it is that now he has all the time in the world to read, he breaks his enormous glasses and is left to stew in that ol’ Rod Serling way.

After a few dozen viewings of this episode it occurred to me: THAT is what it means to be a nerd. Sure, the people around you can potentially be silenced, but even if they are, you still remain a slave to your own obsessions. Replace this man’s obsession over books with comics, anime…you name it. The moral stays the same.

So there will always be an element of me that is the pudgy, spectacled, and just plain weird little kid I left behind in high school. It seems like a defeatist way of looking at it, but it isn’t, and this is what I vow to tell ANYONE who questions my ability from now on.

Even if I remain an obvious nerd, I’m still a professional. Hell, I’m nearly 30 years old, how could I not be at this age?! While I’m merely a small step away from getting my bachelor’s I already have a degree in graphic design, and for as long as I’ve been in school, I’ve amassed an enormous education. In the time I’ve been idling I’ve developed loads of graphics and advertising campaigns, some of which you’ve actually seen in a store or on a restaurant sign somewhere. I’ve written numerous articles for online magazines, and I’ve held on to an important job as a teaching assistant in a community outreach section of the city for nearly 4 years.

Plus I came up with the idea for the YouTube channel, which eventually became this blog. I have made valuable connections with numerous important figures in this community, one of whom is the head of the most successful convention this whole damn city has seen so far. Some of you may question the validity of this blog, but even if you do, you can’t take that simple fact away from me.

But…it’s not all that which I’ve accomplished that makes me proud to be who I am. I’m proud of who I am because when I was around middle school age, I made the decision that no matter what people said or did to strike me down, I was always going to be myself. Since I’ve grown, I’ve broken a few promises, but that one remains as true as the day I decided it.

And speaking of promises, next time I PROMISE to build the hypothetical comic convention of my dreams…

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