… Because 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. 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’
– John Green
“You don’t get out much, do you?”
I’ve had that question directed at me quite a few times before. Not so much in recent years as in years past, but I still get strange looks that ask the same thing sometimes.
You see, I am a very enthusiastic individual. I get really, really excited about the things that I love. Yeah sure, others do too, but not like I do. I jump up and down and clap and squeal like a little girl, which is one of the only really childish parts of me that I’ve retained from childhood.
I didn’t exactly grow up “sheltered”. Due to mine and my brother’s health problems, of course, we required more sheltering than most kids, but we were not sheltered. We knew what the world had to offer, we just didn’t have the means or the health to access it.
After joining the Young Single Adults branch and getting a job, I got to do a lot of things that I almost never got to do much growing up, such as watch movies in the theater, or go hiking on an occasion that’s not Girls’ Camp. And even when I go to a completely new place, I look with wide eyes at everything and investigate with a child-like wonder.
Recently I went to Thunder Over Louisville to witness a fantastic airshow and the biggest fireworks show in the nation. This is my third year going, but it’s still as exciting as ever. Last night I got all squealy excited when I realized I’d be closer to the fireworks than ever before, when I realized I’d be able to watch the fireworks shoot off from the barge, and when they did the traditional spark curtain on the bridge. I was clapping and squealing and had the biggest smile on my face.
And the people around me looked at me funny and laughed nervously.
But what bugged me the most was when people started leaving before the show was over, in order to “beat the traffic.”
So what did they pay fifteen dollars for? To sit on the grass watching airplanes for four hours? For overpriced fast food?
The fireworks show was what everybody came for. It was the climax of the night, the kickoff of the Kentucky Derby celebrations!
And they were leaving.
Well I for one didn’t pay fifteen dollars to beat the traffic. If the traffic wasn’t worth watching the whole show with rapt attention, I wouldn’t have come. Those dissenters missed a fantastic finale that rattled your bones and shook the earth beneath your feet, lighting up the sky like the sun. Was it worth it? Absolutely. I walked three miles to the waterfront, shivered in 40 degree weather for five hours, and walked three miles back in the dark. In the end I was exhausted, sore, and cold, but every second was worth it.
Perhaps an even better example of my point is what I’ve observed when going to an amusement park. I’m surrounded by hundreds of people who have traveled far and paid well for the opportunity to ride thrill rides, and yet I’m the only one besides children who is giddy and excited as I get strapped in to my seat. During the ride, I’m usually the loudest screamer, and when the ride ends I’m grinning from ear to ear and probably still cheering.
And everyone else? A smile or two, maybe a funny look directed my way, and then they move on, as if they had just done something mundane like grocery shopping.
If this is what “getting out much” looks like, I think I’ll stay under the rock everyone thinks I live under.
So maybe next time you look at someone and think about saying “you don’t get out much, do you?” Think twice. Stop taking for granted the wonders of life that should bring you joy. I don’t envy those who can leave a fireworks show early to beat the traffic. I don’t envy those who can ride a roller coaster with a straight face.
The next time someone tells me I don’t get out much, perhaps I’ll reply with “well obviously you get out too much.”
Never do something half-way. You either do it, or you don’t. No beating the traffic, no wasting money on day passes at King’s Island if you can’t crack a smile or strain your vocal cords.
It’s okay to be enthusiastic. Spread the word.