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Owning My Inner Nerd

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Owning My Inner Nerd

My daughter came home from school last week, sobbing, because one of the kids in her preschool called her a nerd. While I stroked her hair and wiped her tears, I flashed back 25 years to when I was fifteen. The head cheerleader, who was my secret friend, turned away from me at the lunch table. Standing there, holding my green plastic tray with my soggy hamburger, limp fries, and orange juice, I saw the apology in her cheerleader eyes when she said, ďThis is not the nerd table.Ē

She may have been cruel, but she wasnít dumb. I am a nerd. Straight A, pre-med, attended church twice a week, didnít drink until I turned 21, didnít cuss, and saved my virginity for marriage. I knew what it would take to fit in. I was pretty enough, could be funny enough, and I did date the schoolís cutest boy. But to sit at the lunch table with the cool kids, Iíd have to pretend to be someone I wasnít. The truth was that I cared about getting good grades because I wanted to be a great doctor one day. I didnít drink at parties because I thought it would be irresponsible. I chose not to sleep with my boyfriend because I didnít feel ready to have that kind of emotional connection, not to mention that I was scared to death of getting pregnant.

Does that make me a nerd, or just an authentic human being?

Next: The temptation to wear masks

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Read more: Guidance, Health, Inspiration, Mental Wellness, Self-Help, Spirit, Women's Health, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

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Lissa Rankin

Lissa Rankin, MD is a mind-body medicine physician, founder of the†Whole Health Medicine Institute training program for physicians and other health care providers, and the New York Times bestselling author of†Mind Over Medicine: Scientific Proof That You Can Heal Yourself.† She is on a grassroots mission to heal health care, while empowering you to heal yourself.† Lissa blogs at†LissaRankin.com and also created two online communities -†HealHealthCareNow.com and†OwningPink.com. She is also the author of two other books, a professional artist, an amateur ski bum, and an avid hiker. Lissa lives in the San Francisco Bay area with her husband and daughter.

92 comments

+ add your own
5:36AM PDT on Apr 26, 2013

I would recommend that you always just be yourself, if people don't like --- other's will!

5:47AM PDT on Mar 15, 2012

Thanks for the article.

5:10PM PDT on Mar 14, 2012

sorry not sure what is Nerd?

1:37PM PDT on Mar 14, 2012

Nerd and proud!! Can't wait to buy your book when it comes out!

7:53AM PDT on Oct 31, 2010

Really neat article. Even though 'nerd' never really has (had?) a very negative connotation during my high school years. I always had friends from different 'cliques' yet was considered a semi-shy nerd by most. That meant that I enjoyed studying and getting good grades, would not be regarded as very out-going but rather as shy, was considered to be something of a goody-goody-two-shoe and yet, I never felt the 'nerd'-label was a negative one. It was (is?) simply who I am. That is not to say that I sometimes wished that I could look just as purdy as that one popular girl or wished that I had the guts to talk to that boy I really liked or... Teenage-blues affected me as well ;) It was just that labels in our school were not... Everything. There were groups and cliques, sure. But they provided a general overview, not an iron-clad rule-system.

5:52PM PDT on Oct 8, 2010

I love reading the article and the comments and seeing all of my fellow nerds. :)

7:15PM PDT on Sep 5, 2010

I am so very happy for you!

I've never been part of the "in" crowd. I actually never fit in any crowd. Too normal to be with the "nerds", too eccentric to be "normal". Not athletic enough to be a "jock", not "bad" enough to be a "burn out"... I was never a cheerleader either. Yet I had friends in every group, so I was well known, even if I wasn't popular.

I've just accepted the fact that I am who I am. Yes, it hurt sometimes that I never had a table to sit at, on the other hand, I was the one that people came to when they just needed to talk, knowing their secret was safe with me.

I had my hand full of good friends, and that's all I needed. I'm still like that. I speak my mind, and often people are either really offended or love what I say. I can't please everyone all the time, so I'll stick to being me.

I'm so proud of you that you withstand even with peer pressure from the likes of Stanford! That's a mighty high bar, and people are lucky to be able to reach it, and with hard work, some do. Then to not break under what's expected and keep your integrity! wow! Kudos to you! :-)

5:06AM PDT on Aug 31, 2010

I have tried to hide my 'nerdness' for a while, not because I really cared what anyone thought, but I didnt want to be that girl who studies all summer long or never dates.
Now that I am a older, I think I found a healthy balance between the nerdy and the slightly cool parts of me. For example, I do enjoy being out all day long and going nuts, but Im definitely reading a book before going to bed.

12:28PM PDT on Aug 28, 2010

I would love to have you at my lunchtable. :-D
Great article!

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Disclaimer: The views expressed above are solely those of the author and may not reflect those of
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