"USING NERD CULTURE TO ESCAPE" PANEL AT CONVENTIONS
My podcast (No Ordinary Nerd) and I have been doing panels at conventions all over California. What we talk about is how being a nerd has helped us cope and deal with our mental health problems. Our goal is to tell our stories in hopes that listeners that come in and sit with us connect with it and don’t feel alone. We encourage everyone to tell their own story and I continue to be blown away by just how many people come and do that.
Honestly, my expectation for each panel I host is for 1 to 0 people showing up. But that is that little voice in my head saying little nothings like, “You’re not good enough to host a panel, Who are you? You’re a nobody, Why would anyone show up to this?” Walking up to my panel this is all I’m thinking. When I walk in the room and see a room full of people I am amazed every single time.
Our panel gets deep and we talk about real things that should be discussed and not shoved under a carpet and labeled taboo. I still expect people to be very shy about this subject and not want to sit in and listen to stuff like this. But seeing people in the crowd prove me wrong is really cool. At the end of the panel, we open it up for people to come up and ask a question or really just share their story. The ones that stand out to me the most are the ones that tell me they have social anxiety and would never stand up in front of crowds. Yet, they are standing there in a room full of people sharing their story and how being a nerd helped them find inner peace and feel comfortable with themselves. One in particular that stood out to me the most was a girl who couldn’t have been over 16. She was shaking but she grabbed the mic anyway and she just belted out her story and in the middle of telling us her story she pauses and says, “I don’t do this normally, I don’t talk in front of people but I felt compelled to come up here and do so.” Another girl brought her two godchildren to listen to these stories and she shared her own amazing story about having anxiety in her own sexuality. To be able to have young children be exposed to this was amazing. They will grow up learning and know it’s ok to talk about these subjects but more importantly, they know its ok to feel this way. It is not something to be ashamed about. I commend these people and I am so moved and inspired by these people.