It wasn’t until I was a freshman in high school that I realized what a HUGE dork I was. I was 14 years old, wearing ill-fitting jeans and a bright pink oversized sweatshirt, complete with clear braces, over plucked eyebrows and thick rimmed black glasses. To top it all off, I had gotten a perm (yes, you read that correctly, in the year 2002 I got a perm) and brown ringlets bounced unceremoniously from atop my head. As you can imagine, it was not with much confidence that I walked through the gates of my high school on that first day, but I was determined to make it work.
I remained quiet through all of my classes, noting silently to myself the brand name clothes the other students were wearing, or the way the girls seemed to laugh with the boys with ease. One class melted into another and I felt myself drawing into my shell of insecurity, barely speaking a word and vowing to myself to lay low. Everything that day seemed fine until I made it to my Beginning Dance class and found myself in a large, smelly locker room full of half-dressed girls getting ready for their gym and dance classes. I instantly noticed their tan, fit physiques and suddenly felt nauseous. I slipped off my pants quickly to reveal granny panty Hanes (you can’t make this stuff up, folks) and pulled my dance shorts up as quickly as I could. My mane of hair would constantly get stuck in my bright orange sports bra, so I wore it in a tangled mess atop my head. I felt awkward and alone and began to already dread the coming days, months and years that I knew were ahead of me.
The remaining four years of high school were not without merit. I studied hard to get good grades for a scholarship I was hoping for. My small yet tight-knit group of fellow nerd friends clung to each other and we find solace in the fact that it would all be behind us soon. Despite feeling like an outcast, I continued to wear ridiculous clothes, many bearing strange slogans (I Heart Nerds, Mrs. Available, etc.) and I found other ways to quietly display who I really was inside.
It wasn’t until I graduated, made my way to Arizona State and into my brand new dorm that I suddenly realized something: I could be whoever I wanted to be. College is a wonderful, scary thing. Suddenly your world is full of possibility. Your life is just beginning and the real fun can begin. I began to open up, all but a little. I told a few of my new suitemates funny stories and noticed how they seemed to genuinely laugh at my comments. I raised my hand during class and made observations. It didn’t seem to matter what the other students thought. I was there to learn. I was there to be exactly who I was meant to be.
I am 23 years old. I am a Disney fanatic, Star Wars enthusiast, obnoxiously loud singer (especially in public places), happy-go-lucky nerd. And I’ve finally come to realize something… it’s okay to be a dork.