A continuation from last week on being interested and interesting…
Be Interested in the World at Large. So you’ve got your own hobbies and they’re pretty fantastic. Why care about anything else? Welcome to the world of a ten year old. At least that’s what a therapist once told me when I suggested I could care less about the world. I still can’t believe a therapist would so blatantly suggest I was regressed to the age of ten. So I’m sharing the insult with you. Or rather passing it on. Does the insult motivate you? It did me, but I always want to be the golden child and maybe you don’t care that much. (I bet you do, though.)
Being curious about modern culture, politics, cage fighting, “Lost,” the Korean War, and most types of people engages you in the world and makes the world return your interest. Apathy and boredom are despair in disguise. Take some antidepressants and join the world. That’s what I did.
Now I move on from Being Interested to Being Interesting
Don’t Be Readable at a Glance. No one is truly a stereotype. Some people seem that way when you first meet them. Oh, you’re from Seattle? I guess you’re a liberal, coffee-drinking, hybrid-driving weekend hiker, right? And those things may be true of a person, but then you notice her right-to-life button and suddenly she’s a little harder to pigeonhole.
There is, however, a difference between not being predictable and being just plain strange. The weirdo geek is weird but he’s also predictable. You may heavily identify as a geek and may have found like-minded people that you feel at home with. This does not mean you have to be the stereotype. I’ve known many a geek who has felt compelled to engage in role playing games even though he never liked them because to quit meant losing his identity as a “true” geek (by whose standards I don’t know). You don’t need to feel compelled to defend all geek ways of life. You aren’t a stereotype. Let people see your depth, and notice the ways you are different from their preconceived notions of geekitude. They know you’re a geek. Let them see what makes you different from every other geek out there.
Exercise: Make a list right now of all the interests and personality traits you have that are not geek-like. Include the stuff that you would never want your physics buddies to know about. You’re a geek who loves 19th-century romances? Prefers “CSI: Miami” over “Battlestar Galactica”? Never won a math prize in high school but did get a poem published?
Now ask yourself: does your physical presentation of yourself reflect your depth of character? Or are you a stereotype? Are you a fat, ponytail-wearing, black-trench coat-sporting nerd? Can’t you be a little more original than that? Even just wearing a short trench in chocolate brown would be an improvement. (You probably don’t look good in black anyway.)