Not so long ago, the term ‘geek’ was synonymous with being a loser or of being out of touch with what was cool and trendy. Geeks were four-eyed freaks who were the butt of jokes and who never got the girl/guy.
Today though, that’s changed to a certain degree. While you still get the occasional awkward nerd that fits the stereotype, the ubiquity of technology and popular culture has allowed geeks to be much more accepted and given them a much more flattering role in society. Terms like ‘geek chic’ are being bandied around, and the net result is that being a geek and being cool are no longer diametrically opposed: you can be both at the same time.
Of course this is still a little harder than being a cool jock, and if you want to ‘work’ your nerdiness then you need to know how. Here we will look at how you can be a ‘cool geek’ and make your more traditionally awkward traits work in your favour.
Embrace Who You Are
When I was at school I was a big fan of comic books and I made no qualms about it. I’d bring in my Iron Man comics and read them at lunch and the other kids would tease me – but actually in an affectionate and well-meaning way. It was something of a joke between us, rather than any kind of bullying.
Then there was another kid who was less candid about his love of comics. He would bring his into school but hide them in his bag so that he could maintain his cool image. Then one day his bag fell open and loads of Spider-Man comics fell out. The other kids started laughing, he cried and to cut a long story short he wasn’t so cool anymore. And I got all his comics…
So what was the difference? Simple: he had a severe desire to be accepted by the rest of the school which made him ‘weak’, whereas I clearly had no shame and so there was nothing to tease. Be who you are and don’t worry about what other people think – it’s your confidence that will make you appear cool.
Remember Basic Social Skills
So if you can read comics in broad daylight and not be uncool, then what is it that makes so many geeks unpopular?
The problem is simple: many geeks lack basic social skills. Being a geek almost by definition means having an obsessive personality and as such it’s not uncommon to find geeks who talk about nothing other than their love of comics or the last train they managed to spot. Some will even go into detail about what they had for lunch, or get over-excited while describing a TV program they saw. It’s awkward.
In short then, you should make no attempt to hide your love of comics/programming/Dungeons and Dragons, but that doesn’t mean it needs to be rammed down everyone’s throats. Add some more strings to your bow and practice chatting about other things in uncomfortable situations if you struggle currently.
Work the Look
As a geek you may well have little interest in fashion – this is fine. Likewise, you may in fact believe that you shouldn’t have to change your look to be accepted and that doing so would be tantamount to selling out. Again: fine.
However that doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t also try to look good. No, you don’t have to wear the latest sports brands, but you do need to pluck your nasal hair and you do need to put some gel in your hair. These things can make a huge difference, and if you look around you’ll find that there are some aspects of the current fashions you can work into your look.
Take a Joke
Also important is the way that you respond to teasing. Many geeks have a little bit of a chip on their shoulder: they know that they aren’t conventionally cool and so they get overly defensive about every comment that can be misconstrued as an insult or jibe. If you get upset though, this will just show a lack of confidence again and will make you less fun to banter with. Recognise teasing for what it normally is: harmless. Laugh along with them and make a comment back and you’ll find it’s like water off of a duck’s back.
Ultimately though, the most important thing is just to be a nice guy or girl. Go out of your way to be non-judgemental and to chat to people from all walks of life, and you’ll find that people are so impressed by your wholehearted nature that they forgive you a few of your eccentricities.