When I was about 7 or 8 years old I loved, I mean LOVED Wonder Woman (ok I still love her, but let me continue with my flashback). I would pretend I was fighting off bad guys with my bullet proof wrist cuffs in my bedroom and I even gave myself an ear-ache because I was doing a “Wonder Woman” spin off the high dive. Elementary school Emily wanted nothing more than to be a superhero. Then I grew into a tween and then a teen and then a woman… and all of the social cues around me said I shouldn’t play make believe any more. So I didn’t…
Until maybe a year ago I didn’t know what a “fandom” was. The extent of my knowledge in this arena was that there were some people who went to Star Trek conventions or loved Star Wars or collected comic book stuff. I liked Star Trek and there was a phase where I never missed a new episode. It just wasn’t something I enjoyed with other people, so I was just a casual fan all by my lonesome.
Gradually, introverted adult Emily started to geek out like a kid again. From reading “that kid’s book” Harry Potter because my coworker loved it, to connecting with college friends over Facebook and then checking out some little show called Firefly they were posting about (seriously, y’all I was like 5 years late to that party), to getting hooked on The 100 because my good friend wanted someone to watch the second season with, to going full Mad-Max / Grounder for a comic convention this past summer because some cool people invited me to join them and helped me make a costume.
All of those fun and awesome experiences have been a part of my life because I decided to step out of my comfort zone to try something new. Even when I would have considered myself just a casual fan of things like Harry Potter, Star Trek or Fire Fly, I have always been the kind of fan who gets totally hooked on a great story. Thanks to my new tribe, I am learning how fun it can be to experience the story outside of just reading or watching. When my friend asked me to write a blog or two for the website, my response was “Aww, you think of me as a geek.” Not in a sarcastic way, but genuinely flattered that she thought of me as part of her tribe. And it doesn’t matter that she likes Dr. Who and I don’t or that I like vampires and she doesn’t. The common ground that I have seen among my fellow geek girls is creativity and imagination.
As I embrace my inner geek, I realize we are people who love something enough to want to add our own creative flair to it or find imaginative ways to make a story come to life. That might be a themed party, making jewelry or gifts with your fandom featured, blogging about favorite shows or books to relive the best parts, or putting together awesome costumes to live out a fantasy of being a favorite character.
To be totally honest, I still feel like a casual fan of a lot of different things. But, I am embracing my inner geek girl and feel proud to be part of this tribe because I have met some awesome people who inspire me to grow in ways that most other social circles I have experienced have not. In the process I am learning about being more accepting and inclusive of others, while also expanding my own interests.
There is room for everyone at the geek table, and you never know what new cool thing you might discover. These awesome women also challenge me to tap in to my creative drive once in a while, instead of just going through the motions of my predictable “adult” routine. I have met people who regularly set aside time to look past their day to day realities and routines and embrace what could be. Women who, because they believed they could, simply start creating something totally new out of nothing more than thrift store finds and fabric scraps (and safety pins, lots of safety pins), or set fingers to keyboard and continue the story past its original ending…. I don’t see these things as “escapism” but more like reminders of the wonder we were created to experience. Who or whatever convinced me that I couldn’t be Wonder Woman and that make believe was just for kids was wrong.
My geek tribe challenges me to be more playful and embrace the power of make believe, the power of possible, and the power of community. It is an audacious kind of optimism that is infectious, fun and inspiring – and it is the kind of woman I want to be.