In order to be cool these days, you have to embrace your inner dork.
By a college student’s junior year at a large university, there is no denying what he or she is majoring in. Because by that point, there are certain undeniable quirks which have been weaved into the way they speak, how they spend their free time, or most importantly, who their friends are. So when I chose the term “Major Nerds” as part of the title for this, it’s a play on words with a dual meaning like the classic TV show “Family Matters”. It seemed to me that while in I was in college, a student became a nerd or a geek for whatever their college major was.
For me, the easiest ones to spot were the drama majors. When a drama major walked into a room, they basically sang everything they said. Their private conversations were never private; instead, everyone else in the room was an audience member for their traveling play production. Of course they were also some of the most sincere and friendliest I knew in college. Or were they just acting? I guess I’ll never know.
I earned my degree from Liberty University, the largest Christian university in the world. So it’s no surprise that in addition to every typical degree you could think of, they had a few peculiar options as well. In particular, I’m thinking about the Worship majors. These were the students planning a career in leading worship music at large churches… I guess. Because every time you saw them, they were carrying a guitar playing “Shout to the Lord”, somewhat successfully drawing in a crowd of people singing along.
And if they weren’t doing that, they were inviting people to their “Night of Praise”: As part of their graduation requirements, the Worship majors had to entice an audience to come to a worship service in which the Worship major ran the thing. For me, it was the most random thing someone could major in at our college. I just couldn’t understand why a person would be willing to limit or brand themselves with such a specific degree.
What if after a few years of leading worship at a church, they decide they’d rather work in a bank? And during the job interview, the employer says to them, “So, I see you have a college degree in… worship?” And too, it’s just a weird concept to me that a person has to learn to worship God or lead others in worshipping God. It makes sense, but also, like I told my friend James Campbell, whom I recently lost contact with because he evidently “quit” facebook: “Is that really something that you have to be taught? Isn’t that comparable to having to take a class on ‘how to make love’?”
Then again, I’m not the one who feels I was called by God to work in the ministry. So of course I can’t relate. As for me, as if it wasn’t blatantly obvious, I was an English major. To caricature us, I would say we were a strange hybrid: Decently liberal and very artistic on the inside, yet pretty conservative and sophisticated on the outside. In other words, baby Literature professors in training.
Our heads were in the clouds, yet our feet were on the ground. We were trained to dissect and diagram every situation into literary components; we were the Grammar Police to our dorm mates (see I am the Human Spell Check). We were the only students who actually enjoyed writing papers. In fact, I didn’t start out as an English major- I became one my junior year when I realized that if I enjoyed writing term papers, and all my friends came to me to proofread theirs, that maybe I should stop looking at some big dream of a career and just to what came easy to begin with.
And though those last two paragraphs about English majors were written in past tense, I can’t say that any of those characteristics about me have changed, simply because I graduated. In fact, they’ve only increased in intensity. In my office, I’m still the guy people come to when they need a letter written or an important e-mail proofread. Obviously, I still enjoy writing- you know, hence the website and everything.
And really, that’s the way it works. Most people end up majoring in whatever comes most natural for them anyway, for however they are wired. Is it true that Finance and Accounting majors love working with numbers? Sure, but it also comes easier for them then it would for me. We all still like being challenged in our particular field. When we can succeed in the difficult tasks of our specialty, it furthers us in becoming a locally recognized expert, equipped with knowledge and experience that impresses and possibly intimidates those who in different fields than we are.
I can tell you why the “k” in knife is silent and I can spell any word correctly without thinking about it, but I can’t do numbers. I can’t do science. Nor am I a computer whiz. There are so many things I’m not good at and that I know little to nothing about. But when it comes to the English language, literature, creative writing, and any kind of written communication in general, I’m your guy. In other words, I was an English major nerd. And always will be.
I use the word “nerd”, but I could say “expert”, or “go-to-guy”, or “whiz”, or even “buff”. It’s all the same. We all like to be good at something. And when we can, we like to THE person for our niche. Which often means we all have a bit of quirkiness attached to us. Everyone’s at least a little weird. Even the people we think who are the most normal.