Call any introvert words like "nerd" or "geek" and you're bound to get a surprising response -- that is, if you intended to come off as insulting.
Indeed, we are likely to reply with a zealous "thanks!"
But why would introverts like me not take offense to being labeled a nerd?
After all, in pop culture -- namely sitcoms like Saved by the Bell and Family Matters -- nerds are portrayed as losers who spend all their time studying and who couldn't land a date to save their lives.
It's because we recognize that our intellectual inclinations -- devouring books, writing prolifically, consuming educational films and documentaries, virtually living at museums -- makes us unique.
We can't help but to seek intellectual stimulation any way we can. Our curious minds demand it; if not, we get bored and lose total focus.
That's not to say the average person doesn't do these things every now and then.
But most introverts make a pastime -- a way of life -- out of it.
So when someone calls me a nerd for being hooked on the show Jeopardy! or for planning vacations around the historic monuments and museums I aim to visit, I take it as being called intelligent or intellectual.
And rest assured that the vast majority of introverts would rather be known for their smarts than for having a lot of money, for example.
Because we're deep folk. Where small talk deadens our souls, intellectually stimulating conversations ignite our imaginations.
Discussions that revolve around philosophy, consumerism, psychology, science, space and other profound subjects will find a highly captive audience in introverts.
Pay a visit to any introvert's home and you're bound to find some or all of the following:
- Bookshelves stacked with a plethora of books
- Canvas art/frames featuring geeky quotes about life, learning, and knowledge
- Keepsakes/collectibles, some procured while on trips, ranging from globes and fossils to historic documents
The above describes some of the contents that grace my condo, at least.
I call my home office the "liseum." It is chock full of books on history, architecture, and psychology (my favorite subjects), which lends it the feel of a cozy library. (Surely, the decorative sign on the top shelf labeled "Jeff's Library" makes clear how I want the space to be perceived.)
You'll also find a wide range of ornaments -- a bespectacled cat reading a book, the Thinker sitting atop a heap of tomes, an owl perched on books, a bust of Alexander Hamilton, a sign that reads "Knowledge is Power," presidential memorabilia, city-themed snowglobes -- all of which conjure museum vibes. Hence the nickname "liseum."
Plus, I have historic documents in storage (some real, others reproductions)
That being said, if one aims to deride an introvert, they're going to have to do better than calling them a nerd or geek.
Many of the world's late and living geniuses -- like Albert Einstein, Elon Musk, Bill Gates, and Charles Darwin, just to name a few -- fall into the introvert camp. So, if you're an introvert, you're certainly in good company!
If anything, such labels empower us even more because knowledge and ideas make us come alive like few other things in the world can.