I Work Here Now???
Nerdfighteria has been a pretty significant part of my life. My dad became critically ill in 2006, a couple weeks before I turned thirteen. Life wasn’t normal after that. It completely flipped upside down, actually. Having already been very active in the Harry Potter fandom, I fell more deeply into the books and the community. That was something that didn’t change when everything else did, you know? I still had that, and that was so important to me. Sometime in 2007, I found some of my favorite wizard rockers on YouTube, and they kept mentioning John Green books and occasionally using the phrase “nerdfighters.” Eventually, I decided to Google the term, and that brought me to the vlogbrothers YouTube channel.
I discovered Nerdfighteria exactly when I needed it. It was lighthearted and fun, and at the same time full of so much heart and a desire to make the world more awesome. There were so many things that really impacted me, but these are the two I remember most clearly and that were the most important:
In the video, “Harry Potter Nerds Win at Life,” John describes the kind of excitement I never stopped feeling about Harry Potter. Not just because I love the story and the characters, but because of what those books meant to me in the scope of my entire life. I cannot even tell you how often my love for Harry Potter was either made fun of or looked down on for being juvenile. But here was this intelligent adult human completely understanding that overwhelming passion and not being embarrassed about it. This is the video in which John said, “Nerds like us are allowed to be unironically enthusiastic about stuff… . Nerds are allowed to love stuff, like jump-up-and-down-in-the-chair-can’t-control-yourself love it! Hank, when people call people nerds, mostly what they’re saying is, ‘You like stuff.’ Which is just not a good insult at all. Like, ‘You are too enthusiastic about the miracle of human consciousness.’” Being able to feel like my love of Harry Potter and my involvement in the fandom was not only not stupid, but actually quite cool is a big part of what made high school survivable. Harry Potter was one of the very few things that made me genuinely happy and got me excited, and this video made me feel like that was okay.
Looking for Alaska was also a really big deal to me. I loved the whole book, but I actually wrote a college admissions essay about the labyrinth of suffering. I found it really valuable to imagine everything I was dealing with as a labyrinth of suffering, and to think about how everyone gets caught up in their own labyrinth, spending their lives trying to find a way out. This in particular stuck with me: “After all this time, it seems to me like straight and fast is the only way out—but I choose the labyrinth. The labyrinth blows, but I choose it.”
My essay must have been pretty decent, because I got into my top choice college, and I absolutely loved my time there. I joined our chapter of the Harry Potter Alliance, I started a Quidditch team, I made awesome friends who are all nerdfighters and value the same things I value… I was so sad when I had to graduate and enter the “real world.” I wasn’t done making cool things with cool people. I wanted to keep celebrating nerdiness and fighting world suck, and of course I could still do that as an adult, but it wouldn’t be the same. I felt like I was losing a huge part of me.
I got a job I was very thankful to have (nice co-workers, great benefits, etc.), but my commute was horrendous and I had no passion for what I was doing. “Dear Hank & John” was a big help to me during this time, making commutes more bearable and frequently giving exactly the advice I needed at the moment. New episodes were always a bright spot of my week.
When Hank tweeted that they were looking for a head of community and communications, two of my friends messaged me about it (shoutout to Jackie and Kylee), and I couldn’t believe I was actually qualified for a position they were hiring. I decided to go for it. I knew it was a long shot and I didn’t really expect anything to come of it, but I figured I had to at least try. A little over a month later, I tried to process the fact that I was just offered a job working with the community that means so much to me. Within three weeks, I wrapped things up at my old job and moved across the country.
I’m so grateful. Not just to John and Hank, but to the entire nerdfighter community. I’m so grateful to be here in Montana, working with all of you to keep Nerdfighteria awesome. I love being a part of a community that isn’t ashamed to like stuff, and that shares some really important values: compassion, kindness, learning, and imagining others complexly. It’s a really inspiring place to be.