What does the word Nerd mean to you? I won’t reveal what it means to me quite yet, but what I can tell you is what it does not mean to me. It certainly no longer carries an over dramatized ideal of an overweight 30 year old man living in his mother’s basement playing Dungeons and Dragons! The term “nerd” has a different affect then it did before the Internet, gaming, social media, and before socially awkward Sheldon and his friends on the “Big Bang Theory” changed the stigma. When I was in high school, the term nerd made others feel less socially accepted then the term “jock.” It meant you were smart, weird and didn’t fit into any of the “cool” groups. I definitely was weird and made myself stand out by wearing all black, singing in choir, and being very quiet.
Today’s idea of a “nerd” is quite different; reason being that there are many issues brought to light with social media, like bullying. The term nerd is now used to describe various types of people; like a “gamer” is someone who literally plays video games day in and day out. However, if you played video games that frequently when I was a kid you were considered a nerd. Back in the 1970s, hazing was an accepted activity taken with a “boys will be boys” approach, so getting picked on by jocks was a “right of passage” so to speak. Since then, things have changed quite a bit with the invention of the Internet, everything is so automatic and people have been less afraid to be themselves, with national “love yourself” campaigns. Unfortunately, bullying is still a huge part of life and “nerds” are always the target, luckily, social outlets such as Facebook, can shine light on these issues. Facebook is an amazing source to spread the word by using prevention and awareness groups, in addition to sharing posts to stop bullying, which can lead to teenage suicide.
Throughout my whole life I was bullied, but my bully was not a peer as most bullies are, mine was my stepfather who bullied and abused me. My step-father would make fun of me and make me feel bad about myself, he would buy my sister things and rub it in my face, and he wouldn’t allow my mother to be there for me like I needed her. My mom was dealing with her own issues and didn’t know how to stick up for me so I had to endure the monster on my own, but my will died when he kept my mom from saving me. Since I was being bullied, I felt that there was no way out and I had nowhere to turn and that’s when I decided that I wanted to commit suicide. The day that I decided to end my life was a day like no other, the sun shined bright, and everyone was going about their day as if my pain was unimportant. My depression was at its’ lowest, I had my good and bad days like everyone else, but when my days were good, the lows was always darker. This day was no different, I just felt at that point for me life wasn’t worth the pain and death sounded as if I would finally be at peace. My point of no return was actually a day that I felt he took my mom and made her look at me as if she didn’t see me. The day before my incident he had taken me and beaten me to a bloody pulp only to throw a towel at me and say to change and get ready to go to the movies. I guess maybe he thought he went too far this time; she would have to see bruises and blood as it was written in black and blue on my face. My mom was at work and I knew as soon as she saw me she would leave him for good because how could she stay with such a monster.
When the movie was over, we waited outside for him to pick us up only to realize an hour later that he may not show. 3 hours later, he finally showed up with my mom in tow, but she was passed out two sheets to the wind, this was how he planned to hide his sins, bury them with beer goggles. This was when I knew I was never going to be rid of him and this was my life, not even my mother could rescue me from my bully. Death for a 16 year girl would be tragic for a normal child, but for me it was the only way to ease the pain, it meant I controlled my destiny! The pain I felt left me in a dark place the light at the end of the tunnel was knowing once death had me in his grip I would never again feel pain. I took all of the pills in my mother’s medicine cabinet, which was easy to access. I couldn’t tell you how long I was out for, though I hoped forever, fortunately my mom found me. I was unresponsive and in and out of consciousness, I only remember bits and pieces, one memory was milk was forced down my throat, which emptied my stomach all over my bedroom floor. That night my mom let me sleep however, I was expected to go to school the next day as if nothing happened.
Still having felt sick from the pills, I begged to stay home but my mother’s response was more of a threat then a heartfelt display of concern. I was forced out of bed with the only choice to get ready and wait for the bus. It felt like my parents didn’t care about what I did the night before and that me feeling sick was just an annoyance, I was so heartbroken. My bus ride to school was always a torturous long one hour ride especially for someone without friends, but this day was even more excruciating. Every twist, turn, and bump the driver took made my stomach turn, I tried to hold back my sickness but got severe motion sick on the bus, very embarrassing for an outcast. My parents were called to pick me up and my step-father was so upset he had to leave work to pick me up only to have me get sick in his car as well. I was cussed out and threatened the whole ride home, which had no effect, as this was my everyday life. I was kept home for a few days until they knew I could hold things down again, but those days I was treated like a prisoner, the only person that remembered I existed was my little sister, I was fed but that was all the interaction I had with my mom. My parents showed me that what I did was very inconvenient to their way of life; they didn’t show me that they cared for me; only that I was a bother to them. Their reaction only verified what I had already felt was true, that I meant nothing to either of them! The lack of empathy from my mom had only fueled my pain and broke me further. I never went to the hospital nor was I ever diagnosed with severe depression, until I was an adult.
There are very long-term affects from being bullied; especially for those who feel weak and that there is no one to talk to. I had no one to turn to no Facebook, no cell phone to call family members, nothing so my attempt was never spoken of because we didn’t talk about our problems to others we hid things from society. My parents were supposed to look normal and my sister and I were to appear normal and well behaved, I would say my childhood turned me into an introvert and the nerd I am today. Nowadays these issues are talked about in forums online and on social media helping to save lives. I am lucky to be alive and that my mother knew what to do, but had she not I may not have been here to share my story today, but if I had a cell phone or Facebook or Instagram everyone would have known what was going on and maybe just maybe that would have never happened!
Don’t worry I didn’t forget to share what the word nerd means to me. To me, a nerd is someone that is not afraid to be him or herself and shines with all their weirdness. So many people are scared of what others think so they hold on the ideals of what society tells us are “cool”. They conform so easily to societies standards. Nerds don’t care what is “cool”, because they like what they like weather society thinks its’ cool or not! Things go in and out of style but the thing about nerds is they don’t follow fads, however they embrace their differences! I am proud to be labeled weird and nerdy, I am me and I do not have to please anyone except myself!
Written by: April Ibarra