Aug 23

Because of my interests and disinterests, I have always been the odd-man out where ever I’ve worked. Even with my own family, there is little in common between me and the rest of the group.

For starters, I’m not a television watcher, I like math, science, mysteries, creating things with my hands, reading, writing stories, reading, writing in my journal, reading, teaching others what I know how to do, and, did I mention, reading? I love biographies, diaries and journals written by people, be they historically famous or just normal, everyday people; I love mystery novels; I love stories set in the past (pre-1950); I love how-to books on subjects I’m passionate about; I love books about normal people doing normal things.

The fact that I also love spinning my own yarn, dyeing it with natural dyes, weaving and knitting it into something both beautiful and functional and designing my own patterns has lots of people looking askance at me. I was a novelty to be humored, but nothing more. Somewhat interesting, but definitely odd.

Since I don’t watch television, read romance novels, see “chick flicks”, follow sports, or have children, there has been very little for me to talk about when I’m with most groups of people. I either stayed quiet and become bored, or I piped up with something, got that deer-in-the-headlights look from people, who ignored what I just said and continued on their way.

Two years ago, I joined SWIFT (SWIFT stands for Spinners and Weavers of Indiana – Fiber and Textiles), and, lo and behold, there was a group of people, mostly ladies but a few men belong, too, who were like me. I participated in a spinning retreat a year ago last February and found myself surrounded by Mathematics professions, physicists, organic farmers, nurses, and the like, but all of us were passionate about the same things. Keeping fiber related knowledge alive, creating beautiful but functional items, the environment, caring less about television shows than our libraries, and sharing with one another. For the first time in my life, I totally fit in with those around me. It was the neatest experience I have ever had. These people were as nerdy as I am and not ashamed of their nerdiness. In fact, they embraced it and made it really cool!

Until then, I never knew how important it was to find people like yourself to associate with. I’ve never been know for lacking in the self-esteem department, but most of that was a reaction against those around me rather than being accepted. I finally have a group of friends and peers whom I actually look forward to spending time with, rather than begrudging the time as wasted when I could have been doing something interesting.

So, my advice to those out there who don’t feel like you fit in with the people you are surrounded by? Go outside this group to someplace you have interests in and search out those who are like you. If you are afraid of looking nerdy or uncool, remember, it is only with the ones who are different from yourself that you look like a nerd. Join the groups who are like you and suddenly you are no longer viewed as a nerd by your peers. You’ll be just as cool as they are.