There’s a little girl named Katie who lives in Chicago. She has glasses, an eye patch and a love for all things Star Wars. Maybe you’ve heard of her?
Her mom wrote an article for Chicago Now describing Katie’s unwillingness to carry her Star Wars water bottle after her classmates (first graders!!!) teased her about it. She asked the internet to reassure her daughter that it’s okay for girls to love Star Wars and read comic books and wear glasses and be a little different.
And the Geek Class of the world? Came out in force.
Thousands of people left comments for Katie. Whole classrooms sent letters. A Star Wars artist sent her a personalized drawing. In fact, today has been declared Support Star Wars and Geek Pride for Katie Day on Facebook—and more than 31,000 people are taking part.
It’s fantastic. It really is.
But part of me is left wondering—how can we keep this momentum going? How can we get the message out to all the other geeky kids in the world? How can we help them love themselves as much as we, the grown up geeks, love them?
I know I could have used the encouragement.
This is me at 15. I had glasses, braces, a face full of acne and a complete certainty that I was one of the ugliest creatures to ever walk the face of the earth.
I was smart, but too afraid of being noticed to really shine in the classroom.
I was creative, but too shy to take part in the kind of extracurricular activities that would have given me confidence in my abilities.
I stuck to corners in social situations, clung to the walls in school hallways and lived in fear of having to sit next to one of the cool kids on the bus.
Why? Well because I’d been picked on (bullied, I guess we’d call it now) since the first grade. By my sophomore year of high school, I took it for granted that everyone who looked at me was secretly laughing.
My head, it was not a very pleasant place to live.
Eventually, of course, I came out of it. I found my place in the world, gained confidence in my abilities and even (sort of) learned to like the face I saw in the mirror.
But there’s a part of me that will always remember being 15 and that desolate feeling of absolute isolation. I’d do anything to keep other kids—any kid—from having to go through the same thing. I just don’t know how to do it.