The Nerd

I am sitting at Starbucks and unintentionally eavesdropping on a conversation.  I love listening to strangers talk, but these two girls seem eerily familiar.  They are talking about high school GPAs.  The one girl had a 4.0 until her sophomore year.  And they are talking about their class ranking.  Other kids’ GPAs will probably drop, they agree.

Rewind about 14 or 15 years, and that could have been me talking.  Back in high school, that was my main focus.  The GPA was everything.  I wasn’t a jock, and while I enjoyed band, I wasn’t a full blown music/artsy fanatic.  The GPA was my place to finish in first place.  I was competitive and knew I could do it.  I wanted to prove something.

But I also hated the stigma associated with being book smart.  I didn’t consider myself a total nerd, just a partial one.  Looking back, I’m pretty sure I was a complete nerd.  And I still have a good share of nerdiness in me.

Back in the mid ’90s, I didn’t date or go out and party.  I was a straight arrow, completing homework on time and waitressing to pay for my 1990 Plymouth Sundance.  I was the queen of bad haircuts.  But somehow I was a cheerleader.  Yes, it was a small school, and cheerleading didn’t have much social status.

A high GPA also secured my college future.  I knew education could open many new doors, and I wanted out of the Burg.

So, I was Best of the Class on KWWL and valedictorian of my graduating class.  While I enjoyed my victory, I buried it deep when I went to college.  I no longer wanted to be a nerd.

It was tough to accept Bs and one or two Cs in college when I knew I could have maybe worked a little harder and earned an A.  But at what price?  I observed the college nerds with empathy and wished they would let go a little and enjoy themselves.  Working to get into a top notch med or law school is a great goal, as is having a good GPA for grad school.  But at what cost?  I graduated a cum laude of some sort, and that was good enough to get into most law schools.  So that was good enough for me.

I had a blast in college.  And I finally told some of my closest friends my valedictorian secret – only after they knew the real me.

I still hold a few nerdy traits dear, and that’s OK.  The difference now is I no longer let one facet of my life control everything else.  Except the need to organize and clean.  That sneaks up on me pretty often.


2 thoughts on “The Nerd

  1. Loved the read, Mel. I couldn’t agree more with what you said about book smarts. Really this day in age with information being everywhere, “book smarts” don’t pay off like they used to. Dependant upon situation and career choice obviously, more times than not, being able to find the answer quickly is almost as good as having it locked into your brain originally.

    Here’s how I look at it… lets throw these arbitrary numbers out there for studying for an exam. Say that you can put 6 hours in and get a 92%, and for every extra hour, you may raise that grade by another 1%. The real studiers who need that 97% can be putting in twice the time to achieve a slightly better grade. There are only so many hours in a day, so many times those hours are taken out of social time. Developing relationships as well as the people skills that are honed over time in talking and interacting with others are skills that are hard to put a price on, but don’t develop without time being put in as well. With society the way it is now, WAAAY too many people are lacking in these areas already, while being personable and likable is what allows you to bring others into your contact sphere. Many times the book smarts go into trying to get a perfect job, but as Kiyosaki says, “Poor people look for jobs, rich people build networks.”

    After my graduation from chiropractic school, I can tell you that the people who were looking to bring me into their practice couldn’t care less if I had all A’s or all B’s. The proof is in the pudding when it comes to being able to interact with others. Many of these employers were strictly NOT looking for the straight A students. Those I spoke with that talked anything about GPA were looking for the B+ students.

    In closing, Mel, you’re a great friend and I’m glad you chose the road of having a few nicks in your GPA armor. I can appreciate your drive for success in high school and how that drive flows over into your every day life. You have a stunning personality as well and I’m glad that you now let that shine. However, after knowing you for so long, I think we both know that we’re both nerds at heart, but in different ways… your way being much cleaner and more organized. Love ya Mel,


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