Becoming Nerd

Hi guys! Welcome back to my blog! I hope you are well, with all the corona-virus stuff going on lately. The internet does a great job of blowing things out of proportion. I am trying my best to keep a logical brain, reminding myself that I am much more likely to die from a car crash. Aren’t you glad you’re here? This is the kind of optimism you read this blog for. Anyway, today I’m gonna talk about my attempt at becoming a nerd in my high school days. Let’s jump in!


I do and have always loved nerds. Specifically, nerd guys. There’s something about them that made a former ESL teen girl feel safe and intrigued at the same time. I liked everything, from their ill-fitting khakis to striped rugby shirts to constant talks of Star Wars/Trek/whatever other thing that had to do with stars. It wasn’t only about the boys, I went all in and determined that nerd culture was where I must belong. After all, I am Asian. Hanging with nerds was my ticket to integrating into society and one day, having multiple husbands (which everyone knows is the the real goal of writing this blog).

In grade 10, discovering that there was such a thing as “enriched” math class at my high-school, and that all the brainy kids were in it, it quickly became my obsession, the thing that I must have. Enriched math was like a shiny black convertible my school generously offered for free. Upon finding out that there were still seats and no strict requirements to get in, I swiftly plucked myself out of nice wholesome academic math and sat in

It was heaven, I was surrounded by nerds of all shapes and sizes, 98% of them male, just the way I liked. Ill-fitting khakis abound and Star Treky things were being discussed everywhere. It was perfect, except I really had no business of being there. I wasn’t terrible at math but not a genius by any means. This class was for the advanced coders, the Bill Gates successors, the real nerds who excelled in university-held math contests named after long dead Mathematicians like Euclid, Pascal and Fermat. I was actually quite weak when it came to that type of abstract-spatial reasoning, but no-one had pointed it out. I assumed because I’m Asian I must be good. It was merely a lack of experience that hindered me. What would better fix that than doing enriched math?

If enriched math was a swimming pool, then I was an uncoordinated, aquatically challenged dog. Puttering about, gasping for air with all its might. Our teacher, Mrs Steiner assumed that everyone was smart, so she breezed through the textbook, “You guys are so smart! I don’t know why I’m even teaching!” Well, she was right for the most part, no-one had trouble keeping up but me, and one boy named Brian. Brian also didn’t have any business of being there. His parents forced him.

I breathed a huge sigh of relief whenever Mrs Steiner concluded her lecture, because that meant the risk of being asked a question was finally gone. I’d routinely hold my breath, stay completely still, hoping she wouldn’t notice me, as if she were a bomb and I was hiding in the trenches. I had no idea what the heck she was talking about most of the time. When everyone was doing homework after the lecture, I was drawing pictures in my notebook to relieve stress. I didn’t even know where to start with the homework, but I had an important facade to protect. I’m all done! Nothing to see here! I’m one of you! I’m great at math. Pie! Square! Square pie! Pie to the square of polygon’s root plus two!

After school, I scrammed to get home to dedicate a HUGE chunk of the evening for figuring out that day’s lecture, with any remaining free time to doing practice Cayley* contests. All this, just to come out second last place in that year’s Cayley, a mere few points ahead of Brian, who had done the wiser thing and given up.

A handful of other girls were in that class, all of them tech geniuses. I was filled with envy. How ghastly unfair! They seemed to just belong there, effortlessly finishing their homework and chatting away, flaunting their high marks. One of them was named Diana, she frequently got a 99, and I’m pretty sure, a 103 if there was a bonus question. Is she there just to annoy me? Is there a way to steal somebody’s skin and wear it as your own? I was insanely jealous because I thought she must have been the epitome of all nerdy men’s dreams. But come to think of it now, there was no indication that she was popular… my perception might’ve been skewed.

Three more months of humiliation went on. By mid-semester I’d surrendered my good-at-math facade. Who am I kidding? Cayley was over and I was never going to be a genius. And no boy paid attention to me so what’s even the point! The material was getting harder by the day and I was getting tired of being at the bottom of the class. Out of desperation, I asked Colin, a nice guy, to help with homework. I held a faint believe that if I’d put myself in Colin’s proximity, he would immediately fall in love with me. That never happened, but I did end the class with an 86, nowhere close to the top but not at the sinking bottom either. Colin refused to take credit, maybe he picked up on the creepy vibe and didn’t want anything more to do with me. I surprisingly didn’t care. Truth be told, I was kind of proud that my math skills improved. Also, getting an almost average grade in that class meant I semi-belonged now. I was well on my way to having a whole bunch of nerd boyfriends.

*the grade 10 math contest named after a famous nerd who died a hundred years ago.


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