We hope you’ve enjoyed all four of our recent essays about Grey Havens YA and being a nerd. This next post comes to us from Judah. He wrote this after our April symposium, but we’ve had so much content to share with you that we are just now able to publish it. Judah wrote this because he felt inspired to do so, not because we asked him to, and we hope that it will inspire you too. Please consider sharing with us your own stories and supporting our group. Thanks! Now #ThisIsWhatANerdLooksLike, and it is amazing.
I was asked a life changing question this weekend. Well- more of a request. But still, it changed my way of thought, and reminded me of my childhood. I attended an event called The Real Myth and Mithril Symposium, an event created by The Grey Havens Group. The Grey Havens Group is an educated group of Tolkien fans that organize events such as The Real Myth and Mithril Symposium. At the Symposium, numerous panels and roundtable discussions were conducted. I had the honor of being on the Grey Havens Young Adult panel along with some of my young adult friends that were within the group. Grey Havens YA is a young adult group dedicated to young people that have a passion for reading, and is a place where we are free to express ourselves. The panel was a great deal of fun, and we were laughing the whole time. The adults in the room marveled at how free we were, talking about our fandoms (a fandom is any sort of thing you are a fanatic about). We discussed our favorite fandom, how we joined the group, and what we liked about meetings.
Later on in the panel, towards the end, a woman raised her hand and said something I will not soon forget- she said something along the lines of: “I admire how freely you express yourselves. I want to commend you on it. But I want you to remember those kids who don’t express freely like you.” There was a hint of desperation in her voice. “Those kids who hug the walls, who are silenced by everyone around them. They are nerds, just like you, but in a different way. Find them, and help them. Please.” She asked.
That made me think. It made me think hard. I recalled being in middle school, and realizing that hugging the walls was not an option for me.
I saw those kids, and I avoided them. I forced myself into popularity, and started accruing talents to help me in my journey to popularity. I did not realize that that was a path to high school celebrity, but then later, a real life nobody. Those kids who hugged the walls are the people going somewhere. But how are they to go somewhere if there are football players and cheerleaders harassing them, or just blatantly ignoring them? How can anyone be successful if no one around them is urging them to be? No person can have success if they are being told they can’t be successful.
But that brings up a brand new topic: what about the adults in their lives?
If no one is bringing them to adults that can help them, and if they are too afraid to talk to their teachers, then what authority figure can help them? No adult is going to stop the so called “positive insults” that happen in schools. They ignore it. We need people who are going to act.
I go to Skyline High School. There, the adults do try to stop the bullying, but it doesn’t work. They don’t have the power to stop anything that someone says to another at schools. Adults try their hardest to stop it, but it just isn’t working. I still see kids everyday, that walk into school, afraid just to walk down the middle of the halls. They have been told by everyone that they are ‘different’. And according to those people, this kind of different is not welcome in their comfort zone. But did they stop to think that different may be good? And that maybe that kind of different is acceptable?
I have tried to talk to some of them, and they just turn away. They rush down the side of the hallway, glancing around nervously. The wall has become their savior. If they even try to be confident, they are crushed immediately by the crowd of rushing teens, all desperate to make their mark. What is some random kid to them?
I think its time to stand up. I know that you have seen kids, and even adults, that struggle with this. So please, listen to what I’m saying here. Help them, and guide them if you are an adult. If you have children, tell those children to respect everyone else. They can be above the bullies, and they can befriend that boy who likes computer programing. They can hang out with that girl who likes Doctor Who. They can even get along with them.
If you are reading this as a young adult, then I know that you know what I’m talking about. You can look into their faces and see it. Try walking next to them in the halls, even if you don’t talk to them. Sit at their table, even if they don’t look at you. Invite them to sit with you at lunch. You may find them a lot more fun than they appear to be.
But then there are those of you who are that kid. You see all these teenagers, laughing and having fun, and you walk to the side. Well I’m going to tell you this. You don’t have to walk along the side of the walls. Walk alongside everyone else. You are just as good as they are. If you can, find people that will talk to you, hang out with you, and respect you. I know you can. I believe in you. All of you. You can be that person that everyone follows around. You can be that person that people confide in. You are a human being, with the same rights as everyone else. So get out there… And be the best kind of human. Whether you are a Whovian, a computer nerd, an athlete, or just yourself. Get out there. Be yourself. And be confident.
Send us an owl: What do you think of Judah’s challenge to be yourself and stand up for others? Will you be a guardian and a game-changer? #ThisIsWhatANerdLooksLike