Let’s Protect the Little Geeks.

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.

Me at fifteen.

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.

Any ideas?

9 Comments on Let’s Protect the Little Geeks.

  1. Meagan
    December 10, 2010 at 8:48 pm (5 years ago)

    I was a geek and nerd and outsider too. Between 8th grade and freshman year, I basically spent the summer deciding to like myself and screw them. It was hard but I had been the butt of every joke since 1st grade. Basically, in another generation (like the current one) I probably would have killed myself or worse, but that’s nor on my nature.

    Not everyone can do that, though, even as an adult. The best we can do is teach our kids that we are proud of who we are.

    There’s a parenting book you might find interesting: Bringing Up Geeks. If you want to borrow it, I have a copy.

    • Amber
      December 12, 2010 at 9:53 pm (5 years ago)

      I think I definitely need that book. I did alright. I had a few great friends. But I worry. About Tori, and all the other kids given a rough time…life gets so. much. better. after high school.

  2. Rebecca
    December 11, 2010 at 9:24 pm (5 years ago)

    I wish I knew. I think that school is horrible for almost everyone on some level. I was a wallflower with a few really great friends, but I craved to be the socialite who was friends with everyone in the entire school. It never happened and I was convinced that it was because I was too dumb to have friends and too ugly and too poor and too not good enough.

    Just teaching kids to treat others the way they want to be treated and practicing the same thing in daily life to model the behavior the kids need.

    • Amber
      December 12, 2010 at 9:52 pm (5 years ago)

      I like the way you think. High school wasn’t all bad. I had some awesome friends and that pic was taken in St. Petersburg, Russi, so you know. It could have been worse. I just hate the stories you hear.

  3. Charlotte
    December 12, 2010 at 3:57 pm (5 years ago)

    I know this feeling all too well. Growing up, I was always teased for being slightly different, too. I had big hair, hand-me-down clothing, glasses… I was definitely on the nerd squad. And kids were cruel but I learned to channel my creativity and would go home and write whenever something bothered me. I wouldn’t say it helped me with some of the darker periods of my life, but it was something I always took comfort in… no matter how terrible I felt, going home and writing it all out became the best therapy I could have ever asked for.

    I’m so glad to hear that people are supporting Katie in this way. That’s truly an amazing thing. I think the best we can do is teach and preach tolerance wherever we can and spread the word that our differences are what makes us unique… and perfect just the way we are.

    Thanks for a lovely post.

    • Amber
      December 12, 2010 at 10:12 pm (5 years ago)

      I think when you have a hard time as a teen, it pays off, in that it makes you a stronger adult. But, oh the pain! I still remember coming home and crying…and threatening never to go to school again.

  4. Lady Jennie
    December 14, 2010 at 3:22 pm (5 years ago)

    Ugh was I ever a geek. Except I didn’t have enough character to be a proper geek that was interested in anything other than what other people thought. I suppose I was pretty enough but it made no difference to my self esteem. My head was not a good place to be either.

    PS Your 15 year old self was darling.

    • Amber
      December 15, 2010 at 10:13 pm (5 years ago)

      Thank you. I’m sure your 15 year old self was a beauty queen. It’s just the dang lack of confidence that did me in. Maybe we can teach the next generation to feel better about themselves?


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