As a child forming friendships was blissful and fairly easy. Bonding over a favorite toy, cartoon, playing an outdoor game, and no one is skeptical about the other person’s intentions. Fast forward to middle school, and things become bit more challenging especially as puberty sets in. Girls started to “date” right along with the boys, and everything that was once “trendy” is now considered “uncool.” Now in high school everything seems to be based on timing and just crossing paths with the “right” people. For me it was a huge maze of confusion.
As a “Blerd” childhood friendships were simple, because even though children can see color there is no understanding of the concept and how it shapes one’s experiences. In elementary school I had a diverse group of friends and we generally had the same interests from books, fantasy characters, video games, and movies. In addition, even as a child I was introverted, and tended to gravitate towards others who were generally quiet in nature as well.
I attended a predominately African American middle school and during the time, most of my classmates were focused on whatever was considered the “latest” rather clothing, music, and cellphones. I was always a geek at heart, and I found my place among the close friendships I had formed. I remember most of the interests had dwindled by either my environment or becoming “outdated.” However, I kept my love of reading, writing, and overall creating that transferred into high school and has continued into my adulthood.
What I enjoyed most about middle school was the autonomy of being able to connect with others through organizations and extracurricular activities including debate team, instrumental (playing the violin), book club, and swim club. I was grateful to be introduced into the “African American History Bowl” which focused on African American contributions leading into a local tournament. Besides the “African American History Bowl” organization even in a predominately black school, I was generally the only black person within my organization(s).
In high school, I was minimally involved with organizations as my goal became just to complete school. During my freshman year I was generally alone, and it took me a while to form friendships with others. High school was an odd time for me as I felt being an introvert worked against me, and I often felt I became a target for bullies. Since I constantly felt defensive, I lost my voice as a result and it took me until my junior year of college to finally accept being an introvert and to rediscover (and continue to discover) myself.
From my observations and experiences, it was more acceptable to be a “nerd” if one was white and generally male. It wasn’t common for many girls especially black girls to freely join organizations without being questioned in regards to their interests. It was easy to be “singled out” and feel as if you’re the “only one” among many others. What I learned was to not fear losing my voice, but not finding new ways to rediscover myself. Throughout my time I have acquired new skills and overall have used creativity as an outlet to redefine myself.