It’s not always easy being a nerd. There’s always going to be someone telling you that you care too much about “just” things: “just a TV show,” “just a book,” just a band,” “just a sports team,” etc. There are always going to be people who judge you for your emotional investment in fictional worlds and characters. And there are always going to be people who think that there are better, more productive ways to spend your time than reading, watching TV, or writing about things that make you think and feel.
That’s exactly why we as nerds need support systems—people who encourage our nerdy sides, foster our passions, and help us find even more things to become invested in.
I have a wonderfully large nerdy support system—from all of you lovely readers and commenters here at NGN and my friends who will talk for hours with me about books and TV shows to my cousins who are just as nerdy as I am, my father who’s taught me so much about sports fandom, and my sister who’s my favorite TV-watching partner. However, there’s one person who is at the heart of that support system—one person who first opened my eyes to what would become one my life’s biggest passions and has encouraged that passion ever since—and it happens to be her birthday today.
That person is my mom. When I was a bored preteen looking for things to read, my mom led me to To Kill a Mockingbird and The Great Gatsby, and my life was never the same. In introducing me to those two books, my mom introduced me to my future—analyzing the pieces of media that make me think and feel the most deeply. As a reader herself, my mom knew the value of books and just how much of an impact they can leave on you, and I’m so thankful she passed that appreciation for the value of great literature on to me.
My mom is quite possibly the most genuinely supportive person I’ve ever known, and she’s always encouraged me to follow paths that I’ve chosen for myself, paths that make me happy. When I began talking about starting NGN, my mom was one of my biggest supporters, encouraging me to write for myself again and to do something I really enjoy with my writing.
One of the biggest lessons I’ve learned from my mom over the years is to be true to yourself, even if people don’t think you’re “cool” for it. I’m a nerd, and my mom has always encouraged that part of me. She never tells me to stop investing my emotions in things I care about; she never tells me it’s weird to cry over a TV show or movie or book. Instead, my mom is often right there in the living room with my sister and I, offering her own strong opinions on the media we’re consuming together. My mom loves Andy Dwyer on Parks and Recreation, thinks Hook is a great match for Emma on Once Upon a Time, could watch this season’s finale of The Mindy Project over and over again, and thinks John Green’s sense of humor in The Fault in Our Stars doesn’t get talked about nearly enough. In other words, she’s one of us.
If I want to talk about an episode of Castle, my mom is always willing to listen. If I want to share a good book that I read, I know my mom will often take my recommendations. And just by knowing that, I know that I have someone in my life who continuously fosters the part of me that keeps this site running.
I’m the nerdy girl I am today in no small part because of my mom and her encouragement—from the first books we read together when I was little through my gushing to her this morning about the latest episode of So You Think You Can Dance.
Now I want to turn the tables on you and ask: Who in your life encourages your nerdy side?