By Greta Hallberg

hallbegm@miamioh.edu

I’ll be the first person to admit that I’m a total nerd. I’d rather keep up with Congress than the Kardashians. I listen to podcasts more often than music. I’m one of the few people in this world that will admit to enjoying solving math problems, which is especially rare for a journalist.

I came into Miami as an undeclared major and was lucky to have a wise and experienced University Studies advisor who helped me figure it out. In one of our first meetings he asked me about my interests, my goals and the AP credit I had for calculus. I had passed with flying colors, testing out of college calculus.

“I’m kind of a nerd,” I explained, “but I actually really like math.”

“Greta,” my advisor said, shaking his head. “You’re in college now. It’s not nerdy; it’s called having interests.”

At the time, I didn’t realize how much his words would stick with me. This sentiment, being proud of your major and the things you like to do, has stayed with me in my three years here.

But, and there’s always a ‘but,’ isn’t there? It isn’t easy. All too often, I find myself hiding my passions from my friends, downplaying my thoughts on Obama’s budget to obsess over the results of BuzzFeed quizzes.

When I do talk about the latest vote in the Senate, I’m defensive. I laugh, admitting that I’m pretty nerdy for paying attention to politics. Usually my
friends tease me, too.

These aren’t isolated incidents limited to my friends making fun of me. I’m not the only person who has defended their passions under the lens of being a geek.

We throw shade at our friend when she speaks Spanish around the house; she’s an education major and wants to teach the language. We tease our friend in an engineering fraternity; she has a really cool co-op lined up for next semester partially through the connections she’s made through the organization. We roll our eyes when our friend talks about her business organization even though she planned their recruitment and now has hundreds of talking points for future interviews that will someday land her a dream job.

Our quickness to make fun of each other’s interests comes from our own self-deprecating attitudes. We preface talking about what we’re learning in school with a disclaimer about how nerdy it is.

How silly is that? We are here for an education, after all. We should be excited about our classes. It’s our job to expand our cranial horizons and find something to be passionate about. When we graduate, those passions become fulfilling careers.

Sure, watching C-SPAN makes me a dork. I’ll own up to that one. Paying attention to what’s going on in Washington doesn’t. Someday, it’s going to be my job to report about what Congressmen are doing. It won’t be something to feel defensive of, but rather part of my daily routine as a journalist. I’m not going to regret enjoying math classes when I have to analyze campaign finance data or complex budget bills.

My adviser was correct when she said our interests are just that — interests. Passion is nothing to be ashamed of or disguised under the mask of being nerdy. We should take pride in the fields that we’re studying. We should have conversations about the issues we find interesting. Instead of teasing each other, let’s ask questions.

Let’s learn more.

And please, let’s stop referring to ourselves as nerdy, especially when talking about something that excites you. As soon as I finish writing this, I’m cutting the word from my vocabulary.

Be proud of your passions. Talk about them often. Read the latest post about the Top Gifs of Ryan Gosling (I know I will.) But remember to discuss your academic interests, too. And do both equally with excitement and pride.

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