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A Letter to Myself: Identity in Geek Culture

Warning: serious stuff ahead. I’ll try to keep it humorous.

I was thinking back to the most impactful moments of my nerd life, wondering how things might have changed without them. Various small decisions and influences shaping me into the reasonable facsimile of an adult I am now. What if I’d seen Star Trek before I saw Star Wars? How did Grim and Evil, Courage the Cowardly Dog, and Ed, Edd n’ Eddy affect my preferences in media and humor? Where would I be if I never picked up an NES controller? There, but for the grace of Garfield, go I. I wanted to revisit various impactful points in my journey of nerd, go back and talk to those versions of me. Anxious, nervous, curious, excited, and oh so geeky. Mayhaps you might uncover your own impactful moments sifting through mine.

1998: Discover New Worlds


You’re going to go see the newest Pokemon movie and fall in love with the world. You’ll get a few of the games, collect a few cards, and grow close to your brothers as you play. You’ll make friends with people who love the series, and you’ll find other worlds to explore through it. Cherish it as much as you can, this will be your first nerd love and start you on your own journey. You’ll grow older and move on to other things, but don’t feel sad. It’s a wide, wild world, and there’s a lot to see.

2005: Finding Your Nerve


I know that you know that you’re entirely too young for horror movies, but you’re also stubborn as all hell, so I’ll let this go. Also, I don’t know how you managed to sneak a copy of Alien vs Predator into your friend’s house and watch it uninterrupted. Good on you, I guess. It’s not even a good movie, but I know you loved every terrifying second. Try to ignore the weird looks you’ll get when you check out scary story books from the library. Just because you’re 11 doesn’t mean Poe is any less cool. Enjoy the shivers and shudders, and try to find the funny parts in them. Your version of Death has a Jamaican accent and is in debt to 2 young kids. The things under the bed and in the closet can be beaten. Fear can be overcome. Hold on to that courage.

Oh, and so you know, you’re going to freak out when you watch Signs with a couple of your buddies in a few years. The big alien reveal is gonna freak you out, and they won’t let you live it down. They’re the best.

2012: Date Night in a Bookstore


Yeah, Barnes and Noble isn’t a usual date site, but you aren’t a usual couple. Two teenagers in black clothes and no plans, like seeing a pair of monochromatic unicorns, right? The look isn’t bad, promise, just loosen up a bit. She’s sitting up in the manga corner reading the newest issues, you’re either browsing nearby or sitting close to her. I’d tell you it’s not going to end well, but you’re still stubborn as ever, so I won’t bother. It’ll help you grow up a bit, even if it’s gonna kick you in the ass. But remember that card game she pointed out on the first floor? The one she said her friends played and looked cool with the dragons and wizards? Yeah, you’re gonna fall into MTG hard later. Take better care of your cards this time.

You’ll play a couple games against each other, she’ll try to teach you, but you’re gonna drop it for a while. You two will break up, and it’ll be messy, and you’ll keep it in the back of your mind buried under other things. And when Zach, your best friend in the world, tries to get you back into it, don’t waffle around so much. Jump at the first chance he offers to reteach you the game. Hopefully, then you won’t drop all your graduation money on an amplifier setup you’ll sell later on for less than a third of what you paid for it. Look, just enjoy playing, enjoy the strategy and technicality. Hold on to those afternoons in the comics shop, they’re gonna be some good times.

2014: I Am Who I Am

Crab Goddess, huh?

Man, it’s amazing how far a dumb joke over a video game will last. One silly quip and you’ve stumbled onto your new handle. Zach thinks it’s ridiculous, Jeff and Peter are laughing their asses off, but it fits. You’re not going to start using it everywhere for a while yet, but that’s ok. You’re growing out your hair, keeping a beard, enjoying college, trying to figure things out about yourself. Turns out the world’s a lot bigger than those halls in high school and those 60 students in your grad class. Don’t worry about parties and dating and all that stuff, just work a little harder on your studies and try to get some sort of plan going. Seriously, League of Legends with friends is fun, but quit skimping on your Russian homework. Enjoy yourself, man, stuff’s gonna get weird.

2015-16: Play for the Next Game

Hey man,

Probably should’ve found this tabletop group sooner, huh? I’ll tell you now, those are going to be the best memories you have of college. Magic and board games until 5 am, the 24-hour doughnut shop and in-jokes with new friends are way better than auditioning for the music group with no preparation.

You’re going to find the island where you feel the most comfortable in this sea of strangers. These guys are going to keep you from some dark stuff, and probably save your life. That consistent support is going to be more important than you realize right now.

Also, hang out with Peter and Jeff more often. You’re pretty bad at ping pong, but it’s still fun to see them.

2018: No Retreat, No Surrender

Well… you’re here now, Crab.

You’ve got some good friends at your day job and some amazing colleagues from your night job. You’ve traveled a lot further than you ever thought you would and done some cool stuff. Probably want to start putting aside some more money, though, and looking for a better source of income than a grocery chain. Just a tip.

Also, and this is important: it’s ok to make mistakes. You’ve done some dumb stuff, but hopefully, you’re a little smarter for it. You don’t have to have everything figured out tonight, just put on a Lovecraft story and get some sleep. It’s a new day tomorrow, full of mistakes and stories, discoveries and good food. You got this, you geeky weirdo.

Also, you should really write more. Damn, dude.


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