I was a dork in High School. This fact came to light during a VEND Raleigh business meeting recently, when I admitted my dorkiness to the whole table. There is just no other way to describe myself, unless you prefer nerd or geek. [The nuanced differences between these words will be left for another day] Whether you prefer dork, nerd, or geek…any way you say it, I was not one of the cool kids. In fact, the only times the in-crowd knew my name or wanted to be my friend was when I had my camera out taking photos for the yearbook.
See, I wasn’t just any dork. I was a yearbook dork. Of my seven years spent in middle and high school, five of them were on the yearbook staff. I served as Photo Editor my junior year, and Co-Editor-in-Chief, my senior year. My biggest criminal offence in high school involved breaking into the school during an ice storm [with the yearbook advisor and her key], to acquire the yearbook laptop. I took it to my house to work over the weekend in order to not miss a deadline despite missing school for the ice. I may have also attended “yearbook camp”. Like I said, dork.
If that wasn’t dorky enough, I also competed on multiple academic teams. In both high school and college, I was a church dork. I wrote papers on church history. I was also heavily involved in my church youth group and Bible study.
In college I didn’t get much cooler—maybe not fully dorky, but certainly still not in the in-crowd. I served for three years as a student advisor for incoming freshmen students at Meredith College. I also studied abroad in Germany for a semester, and that was one of the best experiences of my life! It was the most empowering thing I’ve ever done.
As I’ve spent the past two years trying to figure out who I am and “what I want to be when I grow up”, I’ve come back to these activities that shaped my life growing up. None of these activities were things I got credit for toward my degrees (yearbook did count as a class, but I put in hundreds more hours beyond class time than my transcript shows). Yet all of these activities are things that have shaped who I have become and what I feel called to do today. I was passionate about what I got involved in, and I’ve been able to reclaim some of that same passion after digging deeply into my dorkiness.
Here are five things I’ve learned about my former self from gleaning my dorkiness:
- I love working with my peers. I enjoy leading groups and facilitating conversation so many voices are heard.
- I have managerial and editing skills and enjoy details. I like organizing things.
- I have a quest for knowledge and love learning about different cultures and people. I am energized when I discover new things about our world, and I can’t help but share it.
- I enjoy writing, designing, and being creative whether it is the page of a book, blog, website, or photograph. I appreciate art in many forms.
- I have the gift of hospitality. I enjoy making people feel welcome and included. I recognize that small things done with great love make a difference in our world.
Finally being able to put these things on paper has empowered and encouraged me to believe in myself. Believe in my strengths. Believe in my God-given gifts. Believe that I have something useful to offer the world. Believe that someday I will be a contestant on Jeopardy.
The last one may just be a dream [though I do keep taking the contestant test each year], but even if I don’t become the next Ken Jennings, I am thankful to have rediscovered myself, resurrected my inner-dorkiness, and maybe, just maybe, figured out what I’m supposed to be when I grow up. I give thanks, too, to my former self for all the time spent being a dork who was true to herself by developing the yearbook, leading small groups, serving as a student advisor, and studying abroad. And I want to thank my parents for putting up with all the time we spent working on the dining room table my senior year. Your hospitality taught me a lot. Thanks for believing in me!
What from your past-self is helping to shape the present and future-you? How are you claiming your inner-dork?