Super nerds have comic shops, Magic: The Gathering drafts, and weekly Dungeons and Dragons sessions, but it’s hard to find a pleasant middle ground sometimes for secret nerds, even with current technology. Nerds still face ostracization, most likely by the very people who have nerdy tendencies and are afraid to admit them. But it’s ok, secret nerds, there’s nothing to be afraid of. But being a nerd should never be about more than fantastical thrills (it’s not about the money, but that’s a perk afforded by technology companies).
If you want the glory of being a nerd and don’t know how, don’t jump into the deep end just yet. There are many steps you can take to gauge your own nerdiness, and know whether or not you are ready to quest with the likes of Mordenkainen. First, think about why you want to be a nerd. If it’s because you’ve always really loved Norse mythology, or have read A Song of Ice and Fire and want more, or feel deep sadness over the cancellation of Firefly, then you have what it takes. If you want to be a nerd only for the cash technology now affords, then go read 1984 while simultaneously watching Battlestar Galactica. Come find me when finished.
Ok, so you want to be a real nerd. Huzzah! Here are some basic ideas for how to ease into the transition. For one, buy yourself a copy of Settlers of Catan, the most awesome of board games. Call up a couple friends (I’ve seen quite attractive ladies becoming addicted to this game) and play a round or two. Or, try out the game Puerto Rico (also a fantastic board game). Want a challenge? Take a precious Friday night and spend it inside playing one of these games (clubs and youths be damned!). You may even still get laid.
If Settlers is awesome, then move on to computer games like Starcraft II or any game you find on a nerdy website. You can still play with friends, and vent a bunch of your inner rage smashing virtual armies to bits. Never play WoW though, because that’s a slippery slope from nerd into twitching addict. Yes, Internet, always be wary of video games and the false promises they provide (and the money they steal).
And oh yeah, read Lord of the Rings once or twice through. Better than the films, I swear. Or, get a stack of good quality science fiction or speculative novels, like Oryx and Crake, Snow Crash, Neuromancer, Starship Troopers, or Solaris. Then put down those books and watch a couple series of Doctor Who, Firefly, and even (gasp) some anime. I know, I know, anime has gotten a bad rap amongst the cool fellows of the day, but many animes have tremendously engaging stories (refer to Matsuo Jones, another writer here, for the bestest animes). Nerd media can be a wonderful thing, filled with rad robots, lords of utter darkness, exploding planets, and more sexy things than you’d previously imagined.
Being a nerd, though, is not just about these games and books and films. It’s about accepting that one night you may actually like to try a session of DnD. Your identity is not tied to one trial run; you can still be a nerd and dislike fantasy adventures. A true nerd is open, and enjoys the mechanisms of games and complex narratives, there being enough types of nerd media to satisfy any manner of nerdy human. You can be a nerd and many other things too, but accepting your nerdiness and enjoying it (with some of my recommendations) is better than hiding it and dreaming of Greyhawk whilst drinking your twentieth cheap beer.