My experience in high school was probably not as bad as that for geeks elsewhere. I was at a college prep (though public) school; we deliberately had no football team and the difficulty of the curriculum tended to discourage those with more muscles than brains.

Yet there were still those of us who were outcast. Looking back, all I can guess is that since the "popular" kids were those with whom I went to elementary school or "sixth grade center" [as my high school was grades 7-12], they continued to carry a prejudice against me. You see, in elementary school I had the _nerve_ to prefer reading over socializing with other elementary schoolers. I was in the "gifted" program, but even they did not like me. I never tried to fit in, then.

So it was hard in high school. I retained the stigma of "outsider" long past the time when I'd've preferred to have friends. The one person in my grade who tried to be my friend, in early high school, was harassed until she ditched me painfully.

Throughout the rest of high school until my senior year, the only people who would associate with me were in a different grade; the prevailing view of the in crowd in my grade didn't affect them. [By my senior year, I had given up on making friends and become bitter, and somehow this drew people to me. I don't get it.]

I suppose it mightn't have bothered me so, that I had no friends, if I'd had a supportive home life. Instead, I had suicide-inducing conditions. All I could look forward to, there, was to get out of the house--and the only place to go was school, where no one liked me.

Had I had _any_ idea that college would have been such a relief--that my skills, my intelligence, even my tendency to be less-than-social at times, would be VALUED here in friendship, I would have graduated high school early (I could have) and left. I was expecting college to be more of the same--the "in" crowd, with me as an outsider, more unpleasantness.

But this is Georgia Tech. We are too large to have an "in" crowd; and indeed, we're a technological school, and my geekiness here is attractive, not repulsive. I have friends who are geeks. I have a boyfriend who is into computer science [tho graduated with a job]. I met most of my current friends through a GT newsgroup! I get gentle teasing about my geekiness--in that I am a physics major who refuses to use a MicroSoft OS on my PC (linux of course); I am teased that I am really a CS underneath... that I should "give in to the Dark Side [of computer science]" It's astounding to me how my life has changed, and how different it is now than I thought it would be.

I wish I had known this in high school. I wish I had realized that college would not be as hellish, that if I'd left home I could have finally had a life ;) and that in college I would find other people who respect the same values as do I.

I hope that those now in high school, who are feeling the heat of being geeks and outsiders, will be able to find a glimmering of hope in my story. I know nothing of the social climate at other schools, but here at Georgia Tech (and I would imagine any other technological school) I am valued for that which is despised in high school. It's a good feeling.

If you're a geek having troubles in high school, find out exactly what you need to graduate and TAKE it. GET OUT. Go to college, where it may well be different, especially if you're at an Institute of Technology (like Georgia Tech for me).


-- Another brilliant mind ruined by education --

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