I am a nerd. I always have been, from my early memories of playing with Star Wars toys in the late 70s and graduating to Dungeons & Dragons, video games and comics in the 80s. Then the 90s, where I was deeply involved in the Danish gaming community, writing for a magazine, active on the con scene and even getting paid to game with kids! However, that was also the time I started feeling the pressure to “get a life” and “grow up”.
I spent the late 90s and a good part of the 2000s looking for a new identity. It’s clear to me now, but back then it was just life. I had wanted to be a writer, a photographer, a filmmaker and tell stories for a living, but that did not seem to fit with the rest of the world (as in: paying my rent). So I adapted, got a haircut and a “real” job in IT. It was vaguely creative, and I even made pretty good money for a while, but I also felt the joy of life getting sucked out of me.I still played the occasional game with friends, but that was about it. The urge to tell stories was satisfied by writing novels and song lyrics, I even got published and played on the radio – but I had given up on making any of that into an actual job. It’s easy to say, that I should have pushed through and stuck to my guns, but I didn’t have the self confidence to do so. Maybe I was just too young and inexperienced.
I found photography as a way to tell my stories and make some cash, but I still supplemented my income as a bartender for the first couple of years. My nerdier interests remained firmly planted in the back seat.
Eventually, I started running into people with similar backgrounds, but who had stuck to their nerdy interests in their professional lives. Some had become established authors, others were designing story-based team building events. The range was larger than I had imagined, and that inspired me.
Since 2009, I have made a conscious effort to reawaken my inner nerd, and I truly believe it’s the best thing I have done for myself in years. Luckily, I have a wife who is also a nerd at heart, and who supports me completely.
I started a fresh gaming group, playing D&D for the first time in more than a decade. Even though the campaign died out, it got me back to writing game material — I wrote maybe 150 pages of notes for that campaign, some of which was put online. And it felt right. It felt good. It felt like home.
So for me personally, I am naming 2012 as the Year of the Nerd. I will be working on as many nerdy projects as I can, and for the first time since the 90s, I will be attending (at least 2) conventions this year. I’m even a panelist at one of them. So here’s to you, my fellow nerds. And thank you for the inspiration.