When I was growing up, if you had glasses, braces, were smart, or all of the above, you were automatically a nerd. Being a nerd wasn’t a good thing either. You weren’t one of the “cool” kids. Your friends were also all nerds. This was life before the Internet existed for the general public. This was life before Facebook. This was life before TV made nerds “cool”.
The “cool” kids, on the other hand, were the fashionably trendy, sports stars, best-looking people at your school. They somehow seemed larger than life. They seemed to have it all. Nothing seemed to ever really get to them. They didn’t seemed stressed about school or what people thought of them. They just seem to just breathe confidence.
Somewhere, between the time I was in high school over 15 years ago and today, things changed. My guess is that the people who were nerds always did get the good jobs and earn more money but we didn’t know about it. The existence of the Internet in our daily lives though made it possible for us to see that. It made it possible for us to judge what people do since we now had access to all of that information.
Let’s take it a step further. Friendster, MySpace, Facebook. The social media realm has become huge. Now, we definitely see everyone we knows activities and accomplishments. And we realize just how many people admire them for these achievements.
One more thing that has now made being a nerd “cool” is the onset of tv shows like “The Big-Bang Theory” and “Silicon Valley”. We cheer for the nerd. The cool, popular people are the bad guys, the people you hope lose (whatever it is they lose). Finally, there is someone us nerdy Indian kids can identify with!
I don’t know about everyone else but I was required to get straight A’s in school. Anything lower than that and I would have to get extra help to make sure it didn’t happen again. I was fine with it. Luckily for me, I was competitive and hated losing even if it was in grades. But this did give me the “nerd” image. I don’t know what others necessarily thought of me in school but I knew I wasn’t one of the “cool” kids. By the time, I was a teenager, I had accepted it.
Now, you are one of the more admired people if you do know things. You can be classified as “cool” as long as you are socially active. It’s a good place for those of who did grow up as “nerds” to be. It also make me feel good that I know my daughter won’t have to deal with the same negative nuance of being a “nerd”. She can show off her intelligence and be proud of it. I encourage her to learn more. It helps that we expose her to shows like Ghotu Motu Ki Toli where there is a nerd like Motu as a primary character. That willingness to learn and curiosity about life will aid her throughout her experiences. Being smart will give her more opportunities not just in her career path but also in her social life. I’m glad that being a nerd is now cool.
Written by Shailee Butalia – A second generation Indian mother of a gorgeous daughter living in the USA… writing this on behalf of the wonderful team of Ghotu Motu Ki Toli.
Ghotu Motu Ki Toli is a way to teach our children our culture and language using 2 minute Indian nursery rhyme videos available on Youtube and through free mobile apps. Subscribe to our mailing list and our Youtube channel.
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