Mary Traina
July 20, 2013 4:00 pm

For the past few days, I’m sure you’ve noticed a sudden influx of nerds in the media. You’ve probably felt disoriented, having been inundated with images of geeks you feel the need to ridicule, when all you really want to do is relax and crush a beer can on your forehead. Maybe you’ve even punched through a monitor or two upon spotting the face of a bona fide “four-eyes,” yet you have no lunch money to show for it. Well, let me put your mind at ease: America isn’t in the midst of a nerd-pocalypse. They aren’t coming for you. It’s just that special time of year known as San Diego Comic-Con. Or, if you’re on twitter, #SDCC. It’s the celebration of fan culture, essentially: comics, movies, television, Robert Pattinson effigies — it’s all there!

Now I’m just a regular Joe like all of you. I put my varsity jacket on one arm at a time. I’ve always got a football under one arm and my motorcycle helmet under the other. I’m no square. Yet, there is a special place in my heart for Comic-Con.

Here me out.

A couple years ago, I attended Comic-Con for work. San Diego Comic-Con, no less: the Mecca of geek pilgrimages. From the moment I boarded the plane, I knew I was in for a ride. A plane ride, yes, and also a metaphorical ride. The plane was loaded with super fans. Characters I vaguely recognized from Cartoon Network were plastered across their t-shirts. They spoke of “World Of Warcraft” and “Magic The Gathering.” A thin layer of Dorito dust lightly covered every surface. It was another world.

On the outside, I looked respectable – like one of those folks you see dancing in tampon commercials and aspire to become one day. Average and inoffensive in every way: the dream! But deep down, I could feel my inner nerd rising. I’m ashamed to admit it but I felt a little choked up on the streets of San Diego. I saw a guy dressed head to toe as Commander Riker of the Starship Enterprise. Not one of the more loved Star Trek characters mainstream society has reluctantly accepted into their IMAX theaters – Commander Freaking Riker. I saw him and I wanted to hug him. I wanted to tell him all Star Trek had meant to me before I became a stuffy adult. Harry Potter, Isaac Asimov, The X-Files — I felt ashamed for having ever denied it. I wanted to confess to all the nerds that I hate high heels and nobody should ever have to wear anything but the comfy hobbit feet these fans had made especially for their Bilbo costume, especially for that day. It’s exhausting to remain calm and put together, especially when you realize there is a world of people out there letting themselves just absolutely flip out about the things they love. Comic-Con melted any structure I had ever built around myself in order to “fit in” and I was suddenly at peace.

The most popular guy at the bar one night was dressed as The Butcher from Gangs of New York because it’s not just about comic books at #SDCC; it’s whatever the hell you want it to be. You can just wear whatever the hell you want to wear. Tired of wearing make up? Stop it! Ever wonder what it’d be like to eat Pinkberry while wearing a rabbit head? Go for it! Want to be Olivia Pope from Scandal for a day? Hey. Know what? Why not? Put on your white hat.

You don’t necessarily have to be a “nerd” to enjoy Comic-Con; you just have to be yourself.

When I left San Diego, I took a long, hot shower — washing away any remnants of fandom. I recommitted myself to popping collars and bicep curls first thing the next morning. Such is my lot in life. Just kidding! I re-watched Star Trek The Next Generation and burned all my stilettos. The spirit of Comic-Con lives on in my heart, guys. It may seem like a corporate party for movie studios to some, but the true meaning is still there on the streets. So when these spandex-clad wannabe-heroes pop up on your newsfeed, don’t be so quick to judge. Take a beat; ponder the brevity of life and the importance of following your true passions… and then judge.

Featured image via shutterstock

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