“Would it save you a lot of time if I just gave up and went mad now?”

If I’m going to be honest, it all started with Doctor Who. I was seven, spending the summer in England, and my father got it into his head to show me some classic Who. He bought two famous episodes, “Earthshock” (starring Peter Davison) and “The Five Doctors” (starring, of course, the first five Doctors), and he sat me down one evening after tea…

The ninety minutes that followed emotionally scarred me beyond repair.

What my father had failed to remember was that “Earthshock” was one of the few episodes in which the companion dies. After a long bout of nightmares, my grandmother watched the other episode with me the next day. “The Five Doctors” was much gentler; it pushed away the nightmares and gave me someone to crush on (have you seen Turlough?).  It’s still one of my favorite classic episodes.

That’s why, when Doctor Who rebooted in 2005, with Christopher Eccleston playing our favorite Time Lord, I was completely hooked.

It never occurred to me that I was weird for liking this strange, English TV show. I would talk about it at school, and everyone except my closest friends (who knew how to put up with my weirdness) would slowly edge away. I never understood why it took me so long to convince my friends to start watching it; although, it did get easier when David Tennant took over in ’06.

This, as you say, was the beginning of the “end.”

When I hit the double digits, my list began to rapidly expand. Soon, I was immersed in The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy (the book, radio show, and the TV show), Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Harry Potter (any and all), Merlin, Life on Mars, Supernatural, Sherlock, Firefly, everything Marvel — and the list still grows. My love of Science Fiction literature also blossomed at the same time; this genre seemed to be swallowing a little pre-teen and spitting out something everyone called a “nerd.” (Who else can say they went to a Doctor Who convention as a ten-year-old?)

I’ve been very lucky to go to a school where I’ve never experienced name-calling, harsh exclusion, or bullying of any kind. There, I very much identified as a “nerd” without experiencing some of the treatment others do for being so vastly different from “normal.”

When I first realized that I could honestly be called a “nerd,” I was a bit taken aback. I had never thought of myself as someone that pop culture had always painted as well-meaning but fundamentally odd. Up until the eighth or ninth grade, I had rarely thought of myself in those terms. To me, the connotations of “nerd” were always negative — I was strange and so were my friends for liking the same things, for liking me.

It took me a long time to realize that loving things that are such beautiful portraits of other lives and other worlds wasn’t a bad thing. I wasn’t strange; I was imaginative.

There are all sorts of judgments attached to the identity of a “nerd,” whether you want them or not. I’ve gotten many a strange look when I tell people that I spent my Friday night watching Lord of the Rings, dissecting Frodo and Sam’s relationship, and eating Toblerone instead of going out and having a social life.

What these people fail to see is that my social life is very much built around these “weird” TV shows and films. My closest friends are the people with whom I have in-depth conversations about the symbolism of Tony Stark’s Mark 42 suit, the frankly blatant innuendo between Arthur and Merlin, or why the Biblical connections in Supernatural have so much meaning. These TV shows and films have brought me and my friends together, and they have allowed us to be closer; when someone loves the same things as much as you do, it’s hard to not let part of that define you and your relationship.

Having grown up with these stories of tragically fantastical people and creatures, it’s difficult to not think of these characters as real people. I don’t even want to imagine how much time I’ve spent wishing I could go hunting with the Winchesters, go dancing at the Bronze with the Scooby Gang, or go solve a crime with Sam Tyler and Gene Hunt.

But, I don’t let this wishing take me over; I don’t forget that I have real-life people surrounding me who are always game for a Firefly or Supernatural marathon. I never cease to adore my friends for putting up with me, for accepting me unconditionally, and for sharing a love of these universes and their inhabitants.

To be fair, my friend group has changed, as everyone’s always will — it does take time to find those who want to spend time with the real you, the you that exists beyond the school uniform and in a land of dragons and police telephone boxes.

I hope I’m not in the minority when I say that I am beyond proud to be a nerd. I am proud to spend my time in the worlds of my favorite characters, feeling their emotions as deeply as I feel my own. Beyond all else, though, I am so thankful for Banner and my Bleacher Crew — “oio naa elealla alasse.” (Elvish, anyone?)

Photo courtesy of Shishi Shomloo.
Photo courtesy of Shishi Shomloo.

 

*title quote taken from The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, by Douglas Adams.

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