Labor Day weekend, I had the great pleasure of attending Dragon Con, Atlanta’s largest pop culture convention.
I was not alone. With an estimated attendance of 85,000 people across five days, this year was the largest Dragon Con yet.
I’ve always considered myself a nerd. I love “Star Wars” and comic book movies. I play Dungeons and Dragons. I think staying home with a good book is usually more fun than going to a party.
And I’ve never thought being a nerd was a bad thing. I grew up in a time where being a nerd was cool, or at least wouldn’t get you shoved in a locker. Fantasy stories like “Harry Potter” and “Game of Thrones” have become mainstream pop culture.
As a nerd, it’s long been a dream of mine to attend a convention like Dragon Con, one that brings fans of fantasy, sci-fi, history, comics, video games and more all under one roof.
Being so close to Atlanta, this year I finally had that opportunity. And it was a blast!
I got to see celebrities like the charming Cary Elwes (“The Princess Bride,” “Stranger Things”) and hysterical Catherine Tate (“Doctor Who”). They were just two stars in an impressive lineup that included George Takei, David Tennant and Zachary Levi.
But my favorite thing about Dragon Con wasn’t the celebrities. It was simply walking around and seeing all the people — many in costumes that they must have spent hours creating — who had turned out for the celebration of nerdiness.
To be a nerd, by my definition, means allowing yourself to be genuinely, expressively excited about something.
(This means, by the way, that people who wear their favorite player’s jersey to watch a game or spend hours researching to perfect their fantasy team are sport nerds. No less nerdy than the cosplayers and gamers as Dragon Con.)
When concentrated in a few city blocks, that enthusiasm is contagious. It brings a smile to your face even when your feet hurt from waiting in line or walking in crowds.
Everybody has something they become a nerd for. Maybe it’s traditionally nerdy things like “Star Trek” or “Lord of the Rings.” Maybe it’s sports, fashion or crafting.
Whatever it is, we shouldn’t try to downplay our enthusiasm. We shouldn’t try to hide it or pass it off as an ironic interest in an effort to seem cool.
When we put aside fears of embarrassment and loudly share our passions, we find people with common interests and the enthusiasm and joy spreads.
Dragon Con was a welcome reminder to me, and by writing this hopefully to some of you, to stay nerdy.