Own it!

The other day, while watching the masses board the subway I was on, a young fellow wearing a pair of knickers caught my attention. When I say “young fellow,” I mean late teens or early twenties. When I say “knickers,”  I mean just that. Short pants bound at the knees. Along with the knickers, he was wearing a suit jacket with a white shirt and dark tie, purple argyle socks, and Stacy Adams boots, or some variation thereof. As he looked like something from the wealthier side of a Oscar Wilde play, I thought for a moment that it might have been a costume of sorts. But as he stood there conversing with his companion, backpack slung over one shoulder, it didn’t seem that way. Maybe it was some kind if uniform? Or maybe he had walked out of a dress rehearsal without changing? Regardless of whatever story I made up in my head for him, the fact remained that he appeared quite content, quite confident in manner, quite sure of his look.

He owned it.

Within geekdom, there’s lots of talk about “owning” one’s chosen form(s) of geekery. About how geeks take refuge within and relish the bits about culture and pop culture that they truly love, from video games to Star Trek to H. P. Lovecraft stories. One of the things that makes a geek a geek is this sense of community and becoming part of a something larger than oneself. In many cases, we find those communities locally among friends. In other cases, we find those communities online through Internet hubs and social networking. Our respective hobbies (geeky or not) are part of us, something we are proud of, something we own.

What’s interesting is that over that past couple decades, the term “geek” has been applied to numerous hobbies outside of traditionally nerdy pursuits — computers, science fiction, math, and the like. There are knitting geeks, fashion geeks, food geeks, aquarium geeks, library geeks, architecture geeks, and so on and so forth. In a funny conversation I recently had with one of my long time co-workers, after explaining, at length apparently, how we were prepping our garden for the fall season, she exclaimed, “You’ve turned into such a gardening geek!” I paused for a second and thought about the connotation. “Yeah, I guess I have,” I smiled.

I won’t lie, after years of being picked on in school for being of the scholarly persuasion, I still get a little bristly at being called a “geek” or a “nerd” or a “dork” by an outsider, even though I’d quickly use any of those terms to describe myself. But in my mind, those are words that I have come to own. I’ve integrated them into my life over time, and feel confident in how I apply them to myself. If my recent intake of gardening knowledge makes me a “gardening geek” in the eyes of society, then yeah, I’ll proudly accept that. To someone else, I’ve become something more than what I may have first appeared to be.

Coming back to the guy in the knickers, when we unabashedly step outside the norm like he did, whether we do so in dress or manner, we proclaim more to the world than just independence and self worth. We show the world that we own it. We aren’t defined by our hobbies and extra curricular activities, though society may define us by and through them, for those are choices we take on and make our own. No two gamers follow the same definitions of themselves, no two Whovians see the universe in the same manner, no two scientists approach the world’s problems in the same way — yet we all, find similarities.

So you…you go out and wear those knickers, dammit! Go out and love the things that make you who you are! Go out and show the world that you are more than just some silly, artificial label!




Like what you’ve just read? Cary posts to Geek Force Network every Friday; and you can also find more words that she put together in paragraphs at Recollections of Play and United We Game.

8 thoughts on “Own it!”

  1. As meritocracy has taken over Western civilization, terms like geek and nerd lose their meaning when everyone is an expert of their loves, hobbies, and interests. Still, there are norms to rally against, which is exactly when you need to own it!

    Fun post. 😀

    1. Thanks! Yeah, honestly, words are just words, right? There isn’t much to those formerly “bad” connotations anymore. Still, we all have to find our own comfort levels within society’s propensity to stereotype. It’ll be interesting to see how they evolve along with our definitions of ourselves.

  2. Reblogged this on Recollections of Play and commented:

    Just because you think you might lie outside the norm with your video games, your Star Wars fetish, and any other given forms of beloved geekery, it doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t be proud of the hobbies that you’ve incorporated into your life. I put these thoughts and others into a post over on Geek Force Network that says it all: Own it!

  3. Excellent article as always and quite a bit of a life lesson. One of my wife’s friends came out of the closet and her advice to her friend was “If feel you’re this way inclined, then don’t hide it…own it! 🙂 Unforunately, her parents still didnt accept this news straight away but she felt alot better about the whole thing. Feather in your cap, your article has deeply affected someone 🙂

    1. Well, thank you! There’s a song that goes “You can’t hide from the truth because the truth is all there is.” We are each have to live with ourselves, so why not be truthful about what we see every day when we look in the mirror? Your wife’s friend did what she had to do because it was her truth, and it’s great that she owned it! Being our true selves isn’t always easy, but it’s the only way to be.

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