Geek, weird – just a couple of words that were used to describe me at school. Although I also sometimes used them to refer to myself, generally they had negative connotations.
Fast forward 15 years or so and it seems the world is changing – weird is becoming the norm and being a geek is cool. How did this happen?
The cultural zeitgeist seems to be shifting, with the geeks and weirdos moving from the sidelines to take centre stage.
TV programmes like The Big Bang Theory recognise that geeks are not just secondary characters – they have their own lives, relationships and issues, and,,most importantly, they are not encouraged to change. And with the likes of Bill Gates and Mark Zukerberg becoming billionaires because of their geekery, it seems geeks are literally inheriting the Earth.
Being overtly intelligent used to make you a bit of a social pariah – but with the popularity of shows like Sherlock making an unlikely heartthrob of Benedict Cumberbatch, is it true that smart is indeed the new sexy?
Even one of the most popular girl groups around at the moment, Little Mix, encourage fans to “Get Weird”, the title of their current album.
Between programmes, match.com reassures you that if you don’t like your imperfections, somebody else will. The internet has certainly opened up the world and whatever odd thing you’re into, from My Little Pony to World of Warcraft, it’s a safe bet you can find more people like you.
I used to believe that I would grow up and – just like that – become graceful and competent. Unfortunately that didn’t happen, although is it really unfortunate?
I’m still awkward, especially in social situations, but I no longer see it as a bad thing – it’s a part of who I am. Sometimes I answer the phone with “Gello” – a mixture of “Hello” and “Good morning”, sometimes I snort when I laugh, I blush really easily and, occasionally, become so conscious of my walk that I forget how to do it properly.
You can try to project the perfect image through carefully-assembled social media statuses and meticulously-posed selfies, but Facebook is not the real world, just the bits you want others to see.
Perhaps this new wave of nailing your weird colours to the mast is reaction against this unrealistic fantasy world we create for ourselves online.
So what happens when weird becomes normal? Does normal even exist anymore?
The truth is it never existed – it’s a carefully-constructed idea to ensure we conform to a particular world view. In reality, however, we all have an array of different complex personalities, with our own quirks and foibles.
I, for one, am delighted that the world is gradually becoming more accepting of those who were once deemed oddballs.
These days it’s hip to be square.