In junior high school and elementary school, one of the worst things somebody can tell you is that you’re a nerd. In many cases, being labeled a nerd is the kiss of death. By being designated a nerd or a geek, your social circle instantly shrink. Your social prospects, as well as how people relate to you change overnight. The good news is that as socially limiting and potentially problematic being nerdy may be in elementary school, junior high school or even high school, the reality is that nerds run the world. If you want to get a good idea of nerds that shaped the world in profound ways, you only need to look at Bill Gates and the people that invented the internet. These are guys that would just hangout in their cubicles and work on computer codes for several hours at a time. Growing up, they were very socially awkward and they tend to be focused on a limited range of interests. The reason nerds run the world, whether in the world of finance, software, technology, even policy is because being nerdy enables them a kind of freedom that helps them transcend social boundaries. Here are some key reasons why it’s good to be nerdy.
Nerds Aren’t Limited By Social Expectations
In elementary school, junior high and high school, the conception of a “normal” or “average” person is somebody with a strong sense of social interaction. Social skills are crucial for popularity. Social skills are non-negotiable when it comes to being considered as part of the “in crowd” or “acceptable crowd” in any American elementary school, junior high school or high school. In fact, the stereotype of a socially perfect student is somebody who has a fine balance between athletics and social skills. Running against the grain of course is the nerd. The nerd doesn’t have to operate by these rules. The nerd is by definition outside of these rules. He is the outsider. He’s the outcast. As socially painful as this outsider status may seem, it also comes with a certain sense of liberation. If you are not going to be limited by expectations, then you have a lot more freedom. You can explore different interests. You can explore music and art and crafts and hobbies that aren’t “cool” or “normal”. These explorations can help you get in touch with your emotional core. It can help you celebrate aspects of yourself that might not be popular or looked upon favorably, but there’s a part of you as an individual. There’s a certain joy in being free from expectations. There’s a certain self-satisfaction that one can get by not having to play the same rules as everybody else.
Nerds Can Focus and Go As Deep As They Want
One of the biggest hassles with a social conditioning is that your interest by definition is being limited. You have to go about doing things the normal way. You have to go about doing things the conventional way. By going against the grain and truly exploring your individual interests, you can focus on interests that few people are focusing on and you can go as deep as you want. This can produce a deep sense of personal satisfaction. This also produces a deep sense of mastery. In a very real sense, living in a conventional life really is embodying the old saying of Jack of all trades, master of none. The whole concept of the “balanced” personality is that you really can’t become too good at any one thing because your main focus is to be “balanced”. Nerds are free from all that. They can focus only at a tight range of interests and go as deep as they want. There’s a lot to be said about the deep sense of satisfaction you get when you truly master a subject matter or master a particular body of knowledge.
Being Nerdy Allows You to Break Out Of the Herd
One of the biggest ironies of American culture is that, Americans love to think of themselves as individuals. After all, the American experiment is based on the idea of personal freedom and individual liberty. A key part of this of course is following your own drummer and following your own destiny. This is the great American mythology. As much as they like to praise the whole concept of individual personhood and individuality, the reality of American society is conformity. This is why Americans are very big on consumer culture. A consumer is driven by keeping up with the Joneses. A consumer is driven by buying stuff and buying into lifestyle. Not because you enjoy it, not because you believe in it, but because everybody else is doing it. In short, the whole concept of conventional and acceptable middle-class lifestyle is really an exercise in conformity. As we found out the hard way with the recent financial crash of 2008, this has serious consequences for Americans. You cannot live your life spending money you don’t have trying to please people you don’t like and this is all driven by conformity. Nerds are free from all this. They are basically outcasts of the herd. Being outcasts, they have the freedom to do and think in such a way that they are not restricted by this endless cycle of consumerism and conformity that often leads to financial stress, foreclosures, bankruptcy and midlife crises. In a very real sense, nerds are free from the internal contradiction that makes modern American consumer culture so frustrating to free-thinkers.
Being Nerdy Allows You to Explore Worlds of Ideas
When you look at individuals that truly changed the world, it’s very hard to make the argument that they are conformists. When you look at really profound thinkers that changed how we look at society, how we look at our relationship with nature and how we look at our relationship with each other, you cannot really say that these people lived their lives in a conformist way. In fact, if you want to truly change the world and if you want to truly make an impact, you have to step out of the row. This makes all the logical sense in the world. Seriously. How can you bring about change when you are preaching ideas that are in conformity with the way things are being done? A truly earth shattering developments and pioneering ideas are based inherently on thinking patterns and personalities that step out of the ordinary and step out of the average. The only thing you would get from people who think in average and conventional ways is a continuation of the status cowl. This is hardly revolutionary.
Take a look at the life of Benjamin Franklin. Benjamin Franklin was a key thinker behind the American independence movement. He did not think in conventional terms. His ideas often run contrary to conventional wisdom. But we celebrate him now because he was able to dictate the future of the United States through his unconventional ideas. The whole idea of individual liberty being God-given instead of state-given was a revolutionary idea. The whole idea that people own themselves is a hurdle. Nerds are in the same philosophical tradition because since they are freed from the expectations of going with the grain and being part of the herd, they are given opportunities to truly think a new or unconventional ideas that may move the world forward. The world of ideas by necessity is not a world of convention. It’s not an exercise in improving things that are greed upon or the status cowl. If anything, a truly innovated thinking is all about disruption. When you look at the biographies of people behind the internet, this nerd factor comes up again and again. It’s not conventional thinking that pushes the world forward. It is thinking that is divorced from the requirements of conventional thinking and conformity.
Being a Nerd Enables You to Reinvent Yourself… Many Times Over
One of the biggest challenges of human existence is transcendence. When we are born, our primary concern was of course security, feeding ourselves, meeting our sex drive. In other words, basic needs. Unfortunately, the vast majority of people never get this past basic level of personal evolution. The highest point of human evolution is self-actualization. When you are able to transcend yourself and care about other people in a profound and absolute level. I’m not talking about caring about family members or caring about your close circle of friends. In some way, these people are just reflections of yourself or extensions of yourself due to biological bases. I am talking about something in much more profound and wider. I am talking about spiritual enlightenment. Put a frame in secular terms. Very few people achieve this. The biggest obstacle of course is selfishness and being self-absorbed. Being a nerd gives you a great opportunity to use your freedom from conventionality to allow you to reinvent yourself many times over. A key part of reinvention of course is to question you old identity and your old assumptions and your old expectations. This can really do wonders in moving the ball forward in coming up with new expectations and new assumptions that allow you to look at the world in a profoundly new way. When you look at the world in a profoundly new way, you eventually change. Scientific research has already established that our outer world is a reflection of our inner world. Nerds have this great opportunity to reinvent themselves by changing the way they think and as a result, changing their practical reality.
Nerdiness Puts You in a Position to Surprise
It is not surprising that nerds in their 30′s and 40′s often end up with very attractive women. It happens time and time again. The cynical way to look at this situation of course is that these nerds focused on building technology companies or being part of the founding employees that help propel a start-up that either went IPO or got bought out for several million dollars. But putting finances aside although that is a key consideration, we still grapple with the fact that there are many nerds that still managed to get the girl even though they didn’t go through an IPO or they didn’t have a massive windfall. What explains this situation? This situation of course that women tend to change overtime. Nerdiness enables these guys to offer an alternative to the standard conventionality that many women find themselves rebelling against, especially once they enter their 20′s and 30′s. There is a certain excitement and novelty with the nerd personality that you don’t get with somebody who consciously and deliberately tries to be average and conventional. There is a sense of freedom and sense of possibility that you get with somebody that is always been outside of the confines of standard American convention.