After one whole year of thinking, sleeping, and breathing everything geek, the Minerva team reflected on what being a geek meant to them:
When I first started dating my manfriend, his sister said that, at first, she couldn’t understand why I was with him. When I asked her why, she lovingly said, “because he’s such a geek!” Meaning, outwardly, I wasn’t very geeky, so we seemed an odd match. But when she overheard me talking Pokemon stats, she said she then understood.
Being a geek doesn’t mean you have to look a certain way or be a certain gender. Anyone can be a geek. You also don’t have to shout your geekiness from the rooftops either. You can be a geek on the low, too.
What I love about Minerva is that everyone’s geekiness, no matter the kind, is accepted and celebrated. Minerva has given me the chance to let my geek flag fly. I’m proud to have helped found such a fantastic outlet for any and all geeks.
To me, being a geek means being passionate about special interests. Those interests could really be anything, from webcomics to makeup tutorials, but if it’s something you’re obsessed with, it’s geeky. I think there’s also an element of loyalty in being geeky; that is, liking something even when it’s unpopular. You can have one special interest or multiple; your interests can be super popular or unheard of, but as long as you love this interest and are loyal to it, then you’re a geek.
I am a person who is consumed in special interests, so my head has been so in the clouds that I often struggle to find things to talk about with people who I assume don’t care. But I think a lot of socially awkward people such as myself make the mistake of believing that finding people like them is like finding a needle in a haystack. Everyone has some sort of geeky side to them; you just have to find it.
When I first started my grad program, I was quiet and withdrawn because I feared people would not understand me. Imagine my relief when the very basis for a magazine project was a “geek” magazine. Minerva not only helped me befriend fellow geeks, it gave me a niche to belong to and a cause greater than myself to contribute to. Without other people to share knowledge with and bounce ideas off of, there wouldn’t be anything to geek out over. Being a geek is a personal endeavor, but it’s also belonging to a community.
My family moved a lot when I was growing up. It was really difficult having to start completely over at a new school every couple of years, which I think is what fostered my geekiness. I threw myself into books and TV shows, because even if I didn’t have any good friends in a new place, Harry, Ron, and Hermione were always there.
When I was younger, being a geek was always about taking myself somewhere else, whether that be Hogwarts or a boxcar, but as I’ve grown up being a geek has become more about making friends. The friends I made in middle school because we all liked InuYasha are still my friends today, even though we haven’t lived in the same place in over a decade.
I’m so proud of what we’ve accomplished at Minerva in the past year, and I’m sure that the friends that I’ve made because of it will be even more lasting.
When I was younger, I always had a sense that the way I felt about thing never matched the level of enthusiasm that other people felt — it far exceeded it. When my classmates or friends watched a movie or read a book, they liked it, but they didn’t love it the way I did, or at least didn’t show it. They didn’t get obsessed about anything, never wanted to discuss on end why a particular character had certain motives or what would have happened if there were a sequel. They didn’t write fan fiction, didn’t quote things at random, and didn’t gush about how much a series meant to them or how much they loved a fictional world. I found that my obsessions and enthusiasms were strange to them, that they didn’t understand why I could be so enthusiastic about something that wasn’t real. But it was all real to me.
I became embarrassed about liking things, and learned to speak offhandedly and with detachment about my passions and obsessions. These fandoms, they meant everything to me, and were a huge component of my identity. But I had no one to share them with, and for awhile, I hid that part of myself from the world.
It was only toward the end of high school, and definitely into college and (of course) grad school, that I found my tribe and realized that it’s okay to be obsessed. It’s okay to gush about Greek mythology or Shakespeare, discuss at length why you belong in a particular Hogwarts house, and share your long-hidden away anime OTPs. Without Minerva, I might still be that shy geek who’s afraid to quote Disney or talk about imagined Pirates of the Caribbean sequels (with a plethora of kickass lady pirates). Being a geek is nothing to be ashamed of and nothing to hide from, and thanks to Minerva, I and my geek-minded friends can let our geek flags fly with pride.
During my junior year of high school, I had a small incident that has, for whatever reason, stayed with me. I was in a group for a German project, and it was an eclectic mix of students from different high school cliques. There was one girl who was a gorgeous blonde star volleyball player. She was popular and well-liked, and I thought it’d be nice to get to know her better. During those days, we arranged times to meet via email. When the volleyball player added my name to her address book, I don’t think she realized that the name she gave me would show up in her email. Instead of using my first and last name to identify me, she chose to label me as “Jessica (Geek).”
As far as I know, she never gossiped behind my back. She was perfectly pleasant to my face. I bet she didn’t even think anyone else could see it. To her, it was just a fact that my identity was tied to this idea of geekdom. It was the nonchalance of this action that got under my skin.
It made me question how people thought of me. Was that all I was? A geek instead of a person? Minerva means so much to me because it’s a community that accepts everyone’s interests without belittlement. Everyone’s a geek of their own accord and wears the badge with pride. It’s about taking the label that incites feelings of shame and turning it into something positive. And what better message can there be than that?
Although being a geek is now entering mainstream culture and it’s becoming “cooler” and more acceptable to admit to your geekdom, I feel like at the same time it’s driving a weird wedge between people. We now have the “authentic” geeks who were into all this before it was cool and the newcomers who don’t understand. For anyone who has ever been a woman who has one of these niche interests, you might be familiar with the notion that people don’t really believe you love what you love.
That’s one of the things that made the idea of Minerva so immediately near and dear to my heart. It might mean we can’t always hit a specific target, but I love the idea of accepting that a geek is anyone who loves something really passionately. You don’t have to like superheroes to be a geek. You don’t have to be able to name all 150 original Pokemon. You don’t have to prove yourself. You just have to love something and that’s what does it.
It helps that I have had a long and deep abiding love for Harry Potter that got me here early, but I’ve accepted a lot of my other weird quirks along the way. And I love the idea of opening the door for other women to accept their passions and feel free to talk about them. And rant about them. Giving voice to the geeks that might always be accepted as authentic or on the inside is incredibly important and that’s what makes this project mean so much to me and I’m so happy we’ve made it through a year.
Now it’s time to ask ourselves: what’s next?
Image via Pixabay.