In Defense Of Nerd-Dom
MICHELE NORRIS, host:
For most teens, summertime is a break from school, books and teachers' stern looks. It's the perfect time to curl up with a favorite Wii or Xbox game. Not all students, though, look forward to the break. School just got out for Youth Radio's Erin Bilir, and she's not so happy about that. Don't call her a nerd. She prefers the term, overachiever.
ERIN BILIR: I guess you could say I'm that teenager. You know, the one who's overambitious, overstimulated and overworked. I get straight As, I participate in extracurricular activities and I hold myself to a high standard in everything I do.
If you were to travel down the halls of my high school, you'd find it brimming with lovesick young couples making out, holding hands and engaging in other even more embarrassing public displays of affection. And then you find me, pouring over a copy of "The Sound and the Fury." What most people tend not to understand is I am engaging in a subtler form of PDA. To me, my love of learning is really no different than the feeling other teens have for a certain sport, art form or high school sweetheart.
So why is that while others are applauded for following their hearts and pursuing their passions, I find myself condemned, stigmatize? Many adults in my life, even my parents and some of my teachers say the same thing: Slow down, life isn't all about getting an A. I know they all care about me, but still, some of them would love nothing more than to see me fail. Not because they're cruel or anything, but because they want me to know that life will go on. They wish I'd go to parties, jump up and down at concerts, exchange text messages, meet up with girlfriends at the Starbucks to talk about Zac Efron.
For messing up and testing my boundaries and authority, I guess I'd seem more normal. But I have a big goal and it's not about making money or having a big important title or getting into a specific college. My dream, my most secret hope is to be someone extraordinary, someone who's actually done something of importance for this world.
It's a little embarrassing, but I have a poster of Mohandas Gandhi hanging on my wall. Every morning when I wake up, before I go to take that test or hand in that essay, I see that picture and I remember why I'm getting up in the first place. Come to think of it, couldn't Gandhi be considered a bit of an overachiever himself?
NORRIS: That was self-possessed overachiever Erin Bilir. Remember, don't call her a nerd. In the fall, Erin will start her junior year in Denver, Colorado. Youth Radio produced her story.
NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by Verb8tm, Inc., an NPR contractor, and produced using a proprietary transcription process developed with NPR. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of NPR’s programming is the audio record.