In Her Words
Confessions of a Band Geek
Why being a nerd was a good thing
By: Kristin Johnson
Recently my stepmom asked me to watch my half-sisters over a weekend because she was going out of town. They are all teenagers, and she was worried that the minute she stepped out the door there would be the party to end all parties. I was a bit taken aback, because the whole throwing a party thing in high school is completely foreign to me. You see, I was a band geek in high school.
It has taken me these 10-plus years since high school to actually admit that to people. Because while I had a good time in band and made a lot of friends, it also was something I was ashamed of for so long. I am a people pleaser, and in college and in my early 20s, I wanted to look cool and fit in. To a kid fresh out of high school trying to make friends in college thousands of miles away from home, nothing can be less cool than being in band.
My high school marching band was good. We took it seriously. We were more than just playing at halftime of football games. We went to state, regional and national competitions every year. We were 10-time Illinois state champions and always finished in the top 10, if not the top 5, at nationals. Basically, we were nerds.
I was a very good kid growing up. I was a band geek for pete’s sake. My friends and I spent our weekends at the $1 theatre, where the most unruly thing we did was yell out the trivia answers at the screen before the movie started.
I didn’t go to parties. I didn’t drink. I didn’t do drugs. I was a square. But so were all my friends.
I had plenty of friends and we spent a lot of good times together. I’m still friends with a lot of them today. I’m glad that I did hang with such upstanding teenagers because I know, looking back, that in a battle between me and peer pressure, peer pressure would have won every single time.
Clearly, I have made up for it. I made sure, during one of my first weekends in college, to consume enough vodka to embarrass a Russian. But high school kids partying and drinking underage, without supervision, will always be a mystery to me. I blame some of it on the fact that I’m an old lady now. But I think a lot of it is because I never once had that thought in my head as a kid, so I assume all kids are the same – that the world is full of band-geek squares that enjoy a good dollar movie.
I am no longer ashamed of the fact that I was a band geek. It shaped who I am as an individual today and has made me realize that those grown-up things that we are dying to experience as a kid, are better left to experience as adults.
Tell us: How did your high school experience shape you?