Embracing My Inner Geek (14)- Something to Fight For

Embracing my Inner Geek
I’m so pleased to welcome Arianne to the blog today. Arianne is such a lovely person and I love the post she’s written today. It’s one of the best guest posts I think I’ve ever posted on the blog. Thank you, Arianne! 

This is a difficult post for me to write.

A few months back, I discovered that history was to be scrapped from my school’s curriculum for the remainder of my secondary school life. We were to be stripped of the subject without so much as an apology, and as a student who had been set on taking history for a number of years yet, it came as a bit of a blow to my confidence.

I felt betrayed by the teachers and school board members who, just a couple of weeks earlier, had celebrated our win at one of the region’s biggest academic competitions with a history project that had taken us almost a term to prepare. The project was extensive, exhaustive even, but I actually really enjoyed working on it. For the most part my school is great, it really is, full of supportive people and staff, so for that reason I won’t reveal details of the competition’s prize fund. What I will say is that we were shocked when we heard the history department would be seeing none of the prize money. Not a penny. Of course, we quickly learned why.

I’ve always been good at history, but had never before considered the fact that I might love it so much as to be deserving of the label history geek. I’d always felt relief entering a history classroom after a bad day in maths or a particularly mind-bending set of equations in compulsory physics, but when I realized I really loved it as a subject, I couldn’t stand the idea of seeing it taken away. I chose to do what we as people – and as geeks – do best: I fought to save the thing I loved. I fought to keep history on my school’s curriculum, and I won.

I wish I could say it was a team effort, that other students rallied to voice their dissatisfaction with the way the matter was being handled. They didn’t. I do not live in an American high school movie where everyone comes together to save the day.

What I did have was the support of some close friends, family and a few teachers who were willing to back one girl’s academic dream. I had found something I could really fight for, no matter how inconsequential that fight might seem to others, and that changed me.

And maybe, even having won, it still won’t make a difference. Not to other people, not to the decision the school will have to make next year when the time to make budget cuts and schedule classes rolls around again. But if it does, if it makes me a more dedicated, enthusiastic, hard-working person, if it means I will have the courage to continue standing up for my beliefs, then I’ll be glad I did it. If it makes me even more of a geek than I already knew I was, then I’ll be even happier. Geek is a label I’m proud to wear.

We are not just geeks. We are not people who subscribe to one way of living or one way of being. We are diverse, multi-ethnic, multi-cultured. We are smart, focused, funny, intense, infuriating, individual, stunning. We are daring, we are brave, we are defiant. We are many.

We are human beings, and we have a right to not be judged, to suffer in any way just because we fit into some kind of bizarre social category someone came up with when there was no other place to put us.

We are so many different things they had to invent a label for us, people.

How could you not be proud of something like that?

I recently found out that some other students have come forward to sign up for the 90 minutes of history class we managed to secure. Maybe they just didn’t have the courage to do anything before; maybe they’re geeks in disguise. Maybe they’ll hate me for adding to the heavy workload which will invariably follow as September rolls around. I don’t know.

I do know that I used to be afraid of admitting that I love to learn, that I love history and books (and horses) beyond all imagining, but I’m not afraid anymore. I chose to fight for something despite the fact that it would prove beyond all reasonable doubt that I am a geek and always have been, because to me, being called a geek feels like a privilege. A wonderful, ironic, beautiful privilege, because it makes me part of one of the most strongly bonded communities on the planet, and that goes against everything the geek stereotype tells us to be.

If I hadn’t been a geek, I wouldn’t have had my first experience of being the change you want to see in the world. The change I fought for is a small one – but it makes me think that maybe I could fight for bigger things, too.

If, in my future, I can be a force for good, or just part of a force for good, if I can help a person who was sad yesterday be happy tomorrow, then I will have lived my life in a way that makes me marginally worthy of the geek label.

Some of the most brilliant people on earth are geeks. Michelle and Barack Obama, Mark Zuckerberg, Bill Gates – you’ve heard it all before. There are people in history who would definitely be geeks if they were alive today. Ada Lovelace, daughter of Lord Byron and pioneer of early computer technology? A total geek. Mary Shelley, creator of one of the most legendary monsters known to fiction? She wrote Frankenstein while on a holiday that would so entirely count as a writer’s retreat today that aspiring authors would be lining up to just absorb some of its inspirational geekiness.

All of these geeks have something in common: they found something they believed in – jobs, ambitions, books, ideas – and they fought for it, worked for it.

We are geeks. We are strong. We are passionate. We are beautiful people, and we are worth so much more than the definition a single label can give us.

I’ve always been a geek. I’ve suffered for it and lost hope because of it. A couple of years ago, I came to terms with the fact that I am a geek and probably couldn’t change that even if I wanted to, but this year was the first time I used my geekhood to make a change in my world. It was the most nerve-wracking, anxiety-inducing thing I’ve ever done, and now I know who I really am. I’m proud of who I am.

So if you’re a geek, if you feel like you don’t fit in, if you’re feeling lost even when you’re in the middle of a crowd, don’t worry. You just haven’t found your something to fight for yet.
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Lucy Powrie

Lucy Powrie is a blogger, YouTuber and author from the UK. When she's not reading, she enjoys cuddling guinea pigs and eating Oreo chocolate, but let's be real: she's mostly always reading.

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  1. Reply

    Riya

    15 September, 2013

    This is such a great post! Arianne, I completely agree with you. It’s ridiculous how these days everyone has to have some sort of ‘label’. What if you’re both a geek AND an athlete? *gasp* Social stereotypes are so demeaning and not only can they hurt but they make you think that that’s all to you. It’s SO great that you found something worth fighting for and actually fought for it, so many teenagers could learn from what you did! I LOVE History- just the thought of it being taken away is enough to make me a little teary-eyed. 😛 Lovely post, Arianne, and thanks for sharing Lucy!

    xx
    Riya
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    • Reply

      Arianne

      21 September, 2013

      Riya,

      I hope that other people who read the post can take courage from it, too. Accepting or rejecting a label is a personal choice and no one has the right to take that choice away from you. Sometimes that kind of bravery seems out of reach to teenagers who feel they are confined by social stereotypes – but maybe seeing that they’re not alone will make all the difference.
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  2. Reply

    Francoise

    15 September, 2013

    Great post! How the hell can your school take history out of the curriculum? Is that even possible. At my school you can do it right up until HSC. History is one of my favourite subjects and I just find it appalling that they could do that. Great post, thanks for sharing your story.
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    • Reply

      Arianne

      21 September, 2013

      Francoise,

      It’s good to know they’ve got the right idea about history in Australia! (I’m sure I read somewhere about the HSC standing for Higher School Certificate. Thank you, Australian YA!) You’re right, they shouldn’t be able to take it away – but unfortunately in certain circumstances they can.
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  3. Reply

    Siobhan MacGowan

    15 September, 2013

    Hi Lucy & Arianne,
    A great but worrying post. I’m living in Ireland but I’d heard something about the UK schools taking history off the curriculum. Could you clear this up for me? What’s the position? Is history taught up to a certain age now and then not at all? Have schools the right to take it off the curriculum completely so some kids don’t learn it all? Please clear up my worried mind for me! Thank you 🙂

    • Reply

      Arianne

      21 September, 2013

      Hi Siobhan,

      You’ll have to ask Lucy about the UK, but in Ireland the removal of subjects such as history is usually due to budget cuts, lack of facilities, or lack of interest – sometimes a combination of all three. Unfortunately schools do have the right not to offer the subject if it suits them, especially if it has been classed as a non-compulsory or non-examination subject. Hope this clears things up for you!
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      • Reply

        Siobhan MacGowan

        22 September, 2013

        Thanks a million, Arianne. That’s cleared things up for me, but hasn’t made me feel any better! I just don’t understand how History can be seen as non-essential – how are we supposed to be able to see our world today in context? Arrrgh… but then, maybe, perhaps, some good historical fiction will step into the void. Thank you again 🙂

  4. Reply

    Melanie (YA Midnight Reads)

    15 September, 2013

    I’m not the greatest fan of history but I really detest people labeling others for what they enjoy doing etc.

    Brilliant post, hon! <33
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  5. Reply

    Sel

    15 September, 2013

    Wow, this is a really inspiring post!

    I’m a History & Lit geek through and through (one of the few people in my school who wanted to take both) and I absolutely CANNOT imagine life without either subjects. I’m pretty sure there’ll come a time when I will have to show my inner geekdom to the world to fight for a cause I’m passionate about, and I most definitely won’t feel alone in declaring it 🙂

    Keep calm & geek on, Arianne & Lucy <3
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    • Reply

      Arianne

      21 September, 2013

      Sel,

      I’m so glad you found the post inspiring. So many negative constraints are placed upon those who consider themselves or are labelled geeks that they don’t realize what a force for good they can be until much later in life. It takes guts and dedication to keep battling on and I wanted to let people know they really can make a difference no matter what geek cause they’ve been called to fight for. Be sure to let us know when you find your something to fight for!
      Arianne recently posted…ARIANNE REVIEWS: Threads by Sophia BennettMy Profile

  6. Reply

    Tilly @ Harcore Heroines

    15 September, 2013

    This is an amazing post Arianne! Well done you for fighting for something you believe in. I just can’t believe they would try and cut History, it blows my mind. History is so important!
    I’m more of a Lit geek myself, and if they decided to cut that, I would certainly try and fight for it! I don’t think many people would have the courage to do what you’ve done. Geeks unite!!

    Tilly @ Hardcore Heroines
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    • Reply

      Arianne

      21 September, 2013

      Tilly,

      Thank you so much for your lovely, lovely words! They mean a lot to me. It took a lot of courage to stand up for what I believe in but I don’t regret a single second of it. I love history and if my post allows even one other person to fight for something that matters to them, I’ll be glad I wrote it.

      Geeks unite!
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  7. Reply

    Clover

    17 September, 2013

    What an amazing post! Well done to you, Ariane for standing up for something so important.

    …I still can’t wrap my brain around the fact that your school tried to drop History from the curriculum. I just .. have no words.
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    • Reply

      Arianne

      21 September, 2013

      Clover,

      I had no words, either. But when words failed me (and they very rarely do! I still had my actions – and that’s what matters most when fighting for what you believe in.

      So glad you enjoyed the post!
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  8. Reply

    Georgie

    21 September, 2013

    This is so awesome! I love history, always have, and would be horrified if my school took it off the curriculum. How can they say that history is less important than anything else? Sure, we’ll supposedly use maths everyday, but history is what makes us proud for our country, or shows us which mistakes not to make. This comment could really have been worded better (I apologise for any confusing sentences), but all I want to say is that I’m really inspired by your story, and you’re amazing Arianne.
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    • Reply

      Arianne

      21 September, 2013

      Georgie,

      Aw, thank you so much for your wonderful words! You’re right, history should matter to all of us, no matter where you come from or where you’re going. I’m really glad you enjoyed the post – and if it inspires you, then my work here is done 🙂
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