One of my favorite music videos of all time is Blind Melon’s “No Rain.” It stars a girl in thick glasses and a bee costume, joyfully tap-dancing away in a theater, only to be laughed off the stage in tears. She drifts through a gray cityscape, performing her routine for bemused, head-scratching strangers, until at last she comes to a green field under a blue sky, so perfectly sunny and bright that it looks like a Windows wallpaper. And there she finds a whole troupe of dancing bee people who welcome her with open arms. It is a moment of joyful catharsis, a homecoming. It is the moment where someone who doesn’t feel like they fit quite right finally finds their people.
I have a confession to make. I was once a weird little girl.
Not rebellious or troubled, but definitely geeky. As in, cover-my-walls-with-pictures-of-dragons geeky. As in, proud-member-of-the-school’s-Library-Club geeky. As in, Straight-A-student-with-no-fashion-sense geeky. I had a few friends in high school, and we’d get together to play D&D and Magic: The Gathering.
Being a geek, for me, was a lot like being that tap-dancing bee girl. It meant being enthusiastically, openly joyful about the fantastic stories and worlds that I loved, and wanting to share that joy with the world. It also meant a lot of blank stares, conversations from well-meaning but concerned relatives, and sometimes even outright hostility from my non-geek peers.
College was a whole new ballgame. Finding the gaming club there opened up my world immeasurably, because it was there that I discovered the joys of being part of a much larger community. People who ‘got’ me. People who were unabashedly enthusiastic, and even joyful, about our shared interests. It was there that I met some of my best friends, including the man who would one day be my husband.
It’s been a long time since I was a kid, feeling awkward and strange in the world, but I know that finding my community changed my life for the better.
I still get that vibe when I go to conventions and shows. Suddenly, the world opens up and I’m surrounded by fellow enthusiasts of wonder. It’s a feeling of opening the iron gate and finding a whole group of people dancing joyfully in bee costumes. It’s a feeling of coming home. It’s like that.
They’re out there, waiting for you. Find your people. Be weird with them.