I’ve always been a bit of a nerd. As a kid, I regularly had my nose in a book, got good grades pretty easily, had a love of comic book characters, had big frizzy hair, and I was so tall and skinny that my long legs practically stretched up to my armpits. I finished near the top of my class in high school, double majored in college, and went straight to grad school without a second thought about even more school. I hold multiple professional licenses and certifications, and I consistently exceed the required number of hours for professional development under those licenses just because I like learning things. I love data and incorporate it into my work whenever I can (although it’s possible that I’m just seeking validation that all those math and stats classes weren’t a waste of my time). I still love Wonder Woman, have an embarrassing number of Legos in my house that do not belong to my children, and literally counted down until my kids were old enough to start reading “Harry Potter.” And I still spend a lot of my free time with my nose stuck in a book.
Because my name is Lindsay, and I am a geek.
I wouldn’t say I was ashamed of being a nerd when I was younger, but it certainly wasn’t something I put up on a billboard. I had always leaned into my abilities as an athlete and let that overshadow some of my nerdier tendencies. But as I’ve gotten older, I’ve definitely gotten more comfortable letting my nerd flag fly. I’m not sure it was ever a conscious decision, or I gradually just cared less and less about how others judged my hobbies and interests.
I’ve also come to appreciate the value in making space for others to show up as their authentic selves. And it’s hard to expect others to show up as their authentic selves if I wasn’t willing to do so myself.
Because whether you identify as a geek or not, we all have the things that make us uniquely ourselves – and no one should ever be ashamed of what those things are. When everyone has the space to breathe, to exist as their true selves, to connect with each other on our most human levels, we create environments that are authentic, genuine, and psychologically safe – where people are free to debate their passions, whether that’s Marvel versus DC, Star Wars versus Star Trek, or Yankees versus Red Sox. And if we can safely navigate those heated topics, then it becomes easier to collaborate on projects, troubleshoot challenges, and work together to solve the hardest problems. And that magic only happens if everyone is free to speak their minds, express their opinions, and respect the perspectives of others (as long as those opinions and perspectives are respectful and not harming anyone else, of course).
So today, on Embrace Your Geekness Day, I encourage you to let your nerd flag fly and put your authenticity on display. And even more importantly, make a conscious effort to allow others to do the same.
How are you showing up authentically?
And how are you contributing to a space where others can show up authentically as well?