[I apologise in advance for the stream-of-consciousness nature of this entry. I’m not even bothering to reread this and I’m almost positive that it has no central point or premise, but I just HAVE A LOT OF FEELINGS, okay?]
I was talking about the internship I’m currently in the midst of with my uncle just now. More particularly, I was talking with him about my hatred of the never ending game/act/show known more politely as “networking.” While I am an extremely capable worker and plenty kind in workplace settings, I have a very difficult time in casual situations(e.g. lunch with the managers, the official intern social, the various happy-hour type events thrown by the office). It’s mostly because I don’t care to play the game. Unlike what my uncle was trying to convince me of, this does not mean that I do not care about getting a full time job at the office; on the contrary, it makes me care more because I get to constantly worry about seeing myself failing at a qualification for employment that I find trivial but those doing the hiring seem to view as even more important than the qualities I value, like a thirst for knowledge and pride in one’s work.
Anyway, back to Harry Potter. (Let’s just note that, through this conversation, he suggested I read three different self-help books so I could “develop the correct mindset” for my career.) I made a passing comment about how small talk is tough when your interests fall outside of, well, sports. I’ve come to see that, even if your favorite team differs from that of the person with whom you’re talking, even if you two don’t even like the same sport, you’ll create an automatic sense of camaraderie. It’s as though you’re always expected to be interested in a sport, but every time you say so, it’s acceptable for both parties to react as though they’ve finally found the only other person on the planet who is interested in sports and they can be the best of friends because they have this one all-too-common interest.
I am by no means suggesting that I am special for liking any of the things I do, but a strong interest in anything outside of sports, especially in the world of books, seems to (sadly) put you in quite the minority in the California corporate world. As he was attempting to coach me about how I should use things like the fact that I too know young children or, because he doesn’t know I hate sports, a common sport interest, to fabricate a sense of unity with any random networkee, I mentioned that I probably couldn’t fit Harry Potter into a business conversation as well as he could fit the Giants in. His rather quick response was “You need to forget about all that Harry Potter stuff.”
No sir, I will not forget about all this Harry Potter stuff.
Quickly, I went from allowing him to entertain himself by trying to help his awkward little niece climb the corporate ladder to being extremely defensive. And that’s when I realized something terrifying: people don’t get it. And I’m not just talking about Harry Potter. I’m nerdiness as defined by the Vlogbrothers over recent years: an unironic enthusiasm for things. Though I relate more when that enthusiasm is for some sort of media, whether it is a television show, a movie, or a book/author, and I relate most when I share that same enthusiasm, I appreciate it all the same. I think I’ve spent so much time on the internet and around like-minded people that I’ve forgotten that I will encounter many individuals who can’t conceptualize going to a Con or waiting in line for the midnight release of anything ever.
As the final days leading up to the premiere of DH2 tick by, I find myself thinking more and more about the ways my life has been influenced by Harry Potter. I read the books enthusiastically through elementary school, had a few moody middle school years where reading was uninteresting, then regained my interest in Harry with the release of the Prisoner of Azkaban movie in 2005 and I haven’t looked back. Leading up to the release of the final book, I read the editorials on Mugglenet every day. I read the books repeatedly, attended the midnight releases of books and movies, and began collecting different items relating to the books. Most importantly, however, I became a part of the books. I wear my Ravenclaw scarf with pride because I share the values upon which the house was founded and I count myself among them. Remus Lupin has grown to be one of my greatest role models and even as I write this, I can’t help but tear up when thinking about his death. I’ve learned that love and kindness will triumph over greed any day. Most importantly, I learned to be brave- to be uncompromising in what I believe and to find strength within myself to fight against what I believe is wrong. I may not be able to discuss the Harry Potter directly at my next corporate mixer, but I know that I am standing there because I had friends like Harry, Ron and Hermione who helped me learn who I wanted to be.
So, to answer your question, no. I will not forget all of this Harry Potter stuff. You may not be able to relate to the thousands of kids who grew up dreading potions class and eagerly awaiting the next trip to Hogsmeade with the same genuine enthusiasm with which you watched that one no-hitter, but do not suggest that that makes our lives unimportant. If you are this close-minded about passions and interests, I do not even want to consider your thoughts on civil rights or other social issues.
It’s worrisome, though, isn’t it? I mean, to a degree, part of being a nerd is understanding that our interests are viewed as weird or at least atypical by most of society. But this was the first time that the nerd divide actually caused me offense. It must have been the authoritativeness with which he stated that I should forget my passions. It seemed as though these passions were not simply weird to him, but a danger to society.
I guess this was all just a lesson to be learned. At the end of the conversation, I went back to my room to continue rereading Order of the Phoenix as part of my grand HP reread to gear up for the release of DH2 and he went back to his room to check the progress of his fantasy baseball team and neither of our opinions changed in the slightest. Climbing my way through corporate America without losing my nerdiness is turning out to be a much greater challenge than I anticipated, but I know I’ll make it.