Living the Geeky Life (with purpose!): A How-To Guide.

Sometimes we become overwhelmed with all the little stuff in our everyday lives, that we forget to take a look at the bigger picture. What’s our purpose to life, and are we living it purposefully? My favorite example of a purpose-filled life is that of good old Charles Xavier. Charles is a mutant, with a mutant ability (aka an amazing superpower!), who builds his entire life plan around this ability.

Charles’ life story, the X-mansion, and its inhabitants, are the perfect parable for how one can live with geeky life with purpose. Charles had some struggles from the get go: a physical handicap, some toxic relationships (*cough Magneto cough*), and some cultural oppression from mutant haters. Charles sought to better the world, and wanted to train young mutants to use their abilities. He wanted to do mankind a solid, and to prove to the world that mutants were not a threat, while overcoming all of his obstacles.

His “Geeky life with purpose” consisted of creating the Xavier Institute for Higher Learning – aka the X-mansion and home to the X-men.

So how can you create your own X-mansion? Chances are, you’re not a telepath with a Westchester mansion at your disposal. But if you are, please call me. Anyway, to create your own X-mansion, take my advice.

1. Determine your purpose(s).
What cause do you care greatly for? What makes you happy? Maybe you love gaming, and want to share this love with others. Maybe you want to write a fantasy novel. Maybe you want to open a cosplay yoga studio in SoHo. My purposes are: To use my creativity to make art that spreads joy and positivity, to connect others with similar passions via the Internet, to build relationships with other positive geek women, and to empower others to do the same. These purposes help me to decide which projects I want to take on, and which ones I don’t.

2. Spread positivity to the other hoomanz.
We’ve got like 100 years (if we’re lucky) on this planet, and then we venture into the great beyond. And while to die would be an awfully big adventure, we need to make this experience right here, right now, a positive one …for as many people as we can. This means making ourselves happy. This also means making others happy, including people we don’t know. This means smiling at the jerk who cut you in line, and imagining he needs someone to hug him. This means random acts of kindness. This means making eye contact with people, listening to them, and connecting with them emotionally. This means loving ourselves and being secure in our mind, body and spirit, even though it’s not perfect.

3. Pick inspiring role models.
Some of my favorite geeks include Wil Wheaton, Nathan Fillion, Amy Poehler, Felicia Day, and Pewdiepie. They are giving, loving, humble, caring, funny, and fun! To me, they represent the ideal geeky life with purpose. On Geek & Sundry, for example, Felicia Day and Wil Wheaton allow talented vloggers to have their own part in the show, and they take auditions for new vloggers too! I also adore Amy Poehler’s Smart Girls – it’s positive geekery, that encourages. Their motto is: “Change the world by being yourself!” And Pewdiepie ran a donation campaign for Charity Water, using his fame for good! I would love to see you guys list examples of geeks doing good in the comments below!

The Holstee Manifesto

4. Make goals, timelines, inspirational posters, daily affirmations, calendars, lists – organize the purpose.
Get a big chalkboard, and bright colored chalk, and write down your purposes in big letters, for you to read every day. Buy a Holstee poster, and hang it over your bed, or write your own Manifesto. Write a little encouraging jingle, and sing it to yourself in the shower. Make a list of daily affirmations and say them every morning before you get out of bed. Cut photos out of magazines or newspapers that align with your purpose and hang them all over your house as a reminder. Determine where you want to be in 1 week, 3 months, 6 months, 5 years. Write everything down in a journal and read through it when you are feeling discouraged.

5. Get others involved.
It can be difficult to stay motivated if the only person you have to answer to is yourself. But if you start a geeky endeavor with other motivated and positive people, the snowball affect can be fantastic. Whenever I feel discouraged or lazy about a project, I know that others are excited for it, and depending on me! That makes me want to press on! For them, for me, and for the people involved in the project. Co-running NEPA BlogCon and the Geek Girl Pen Pals has taught me that the amount of energy I have can be multiplied exponentially when other geek girls get involved. My project cohorts are like my flux capacitor, always charging me full to 1.21 gigawatts.

6. Allow others to encourage you.
Surround yourself with positive friends and family who will cheer you on, “like” your status updates, and wave flags down at the finish line. If people are making snide, condescending and negative remarks about your work, cut them loose! Allow positive people to be the Chewie to your Han. Going out for Geek Girl Brunches in NYC has been a wonderful way for me to talk to my geek girl friends. We grab mimosas, chat about our projects, and just spend time together! Remember to make time for real world encouragement, not just digital.

Photo by Monika Kusheva of her Marmal brand

7. Develop your brand.
Having a strong sense of self and identity, built on top of your purpose, is a great way to have something to hold onto, and share with others. Coming up with a name, a look, a business card design, a phrase, a photo that you love: They can all work to be the bricks in the wall of the X-mansion.

8. Let your mind wander. Make time for the geekery, but make time for the nothing too.
As a geek, it’s easy to be obsessed with our computers. I am constantly blogging, Googling, Tweeting, and staying connected. But a healthy and purposeful life means getting back to our disconnected roots. It means leaving the phone at home and going out to the park with your dog, while letting your mind wander. It means getting enough sleep, and not sleeping with our phone. It means prioritizing our lives and giving attention to all parts of it. Ever notice how you get your best ideas right before bed, or right when you wake up? Let your mind wander and you might find your purpose comes to you quicker than you expect.

Geek Girl Advice: Things I wish I could tell my geeky 13-year old self.

Photo via Geek Rooms on Tumblr

Mia Moore: It’s okay to be geeky and girly. Don’t feel obligated to choose!

Kaitlin Marie: Don’t be afraid to be enthusiastic about the things that you love. Like what you like, even if people think it’s weird. This is the stuff you’ll be writing about in the future. These geeky interests will be the way you connect with future friends.

Monica Parker Esman: Don’t try so hard to make people love you, those that matter, already do. And don’t hide your geek, it’s part of you so you might as well embrace it!

Jennifer Baldwin: It’s okay to be geeky, you’ll find someone to love you just the way you are.

Katy Hoagland: I wish I had gone into that comic book store when I first heard about it. I wish I would have embraced my geekiness rather than pretending I was like other people.

Charley Bothamley: One day you will discover DND. Embrace it. Roll with it.
You will also discover Wil Wheaton. Role model for life right there. You will find your Doctor. And he will emotionally destroy you.

Amy Lynn Kersnick: Don’t try to change yourself or deny what you love to fit in with the “cool” kids. Embrace the geek, because it will lead you to the best friends you’ll ever have.

Lysa Schwartz Hoffman: Get help. Trust your instincts. When something doesn’t feel right, TELL SOMEONE. Like Daddy. He’ll listen.

Stephanie Turner: Don’t be afraid, love yourself. There are others like you, it will get better.

Kara San Joaquin: You love building webpages, eh? You know what else you’ll love? PROGRAMMING!! Also, save up your money and buy that drum set already, screw your dad when he tells you you can’t have it. Most importantly, stop being afraid to blaze your own trails.

Rebecca Kennedy: Uhm… that bitch who tells you it’s not alright to like ‘boy things ‘ is not your friend and you need to get rid before college when you will be geekier than ever.

Clare Long: Don’t worry – just because no one gets you now, it doesn’t mean it will be that way forever. You’re not the only one at out there who loves the stuff you do, and soon you will have people to share that stuff with.

Erika B: You are never too old to dress up for Halloween… or the weekend… or a random Tuesday.

Lizzie Fletcher: The braces will work, your hair will get straighter and one day you won’t care if people laugh at you for loving Belinda Carlisle because it will just be your thing…

Leslie Stewart (me): Even though you don’t have many friends, someday you will have more than you know what to do with. Always be nice to everyone, even the bullies. Stick up for those getting picked on, sit with the people who sit alone at lunch, and be proud of your inner awkward, because someday you won’t care when people make fun of you for it.

Danica Colopy: There is this new show called Firefly and it will CHANGE YOUR LIFE. Get ready.

Stephanie Wallace: Play piano. Love yourself. Audition for every play every time. Run for prom queen.

Meaghan Golden Avocato: Watch the original Star Wars trilogy first. There are video games other than Dogz and Catz. In ten years, you’ll be happier and more successful than any of the girls on the cheerleading team (and your boobs will be just as big).

Ari Carr: Watch more films and write more you little geek. It’ll be worth it in the future!

Polled via Geek Girl Pen Pals on Facebook

Please leave your own advice to your 13-year old self below, whether you or not you are a geek or a girl! Or feel free to tweet about it: #GeekGirlAdvice

Real nerds dress up like elves, and other life updates

LARP is always the best kind of adventure. It’s like a second life with a whole new set of friends to catch up with.

I’m a True Elf (though I forgot my ears) and I wear fancy blues. I’m probably thinking about butterflies or something.

Margaret, Zach and Charlie as a sethan (left) which is a lizard person, and two rogues.

1. Om noms. Vegan seasoned kale and mushrooms! 2. Tried a new color Essie this week. Maximillian Strasse-Her. 3. Played Adult Jenga this week! 4. Found wall art on Wilkes Campus. I love brick in photos!

Oh and my dumb cat takes pretty good pictures too. Thanks Oliver!

My Top 5 Favorite Geek Wedding Themes

I’m currently engaged to the most fabulous of guys, Mark. We met at our local LARP, Wyvern Rising, role-playing as our respective characters. Two and a half years later, he proposed to me at our local Pennsylvania Renaissance Faire… which basically means we’re a match made in geek heaven.   We’ve settled on a theme for our wedding: Renaissance! Think Tudors meets Game of Thrones, without all that Red Wedding stuff. But, if we hadn’t settled on that theme already, these were my top 5 all-time favorite geek wedding themes.

Halloween Wedding

via Ryan + Beth
Imagine pumpkins on every table, a cauldron brewing a delicious punch at the bar, and creepy music playing a somber tune. I’d love a Halloween wedding where everyone wears costumes! A spooky candy bar would totally complete this Trick Or Treatish occasion.

Comic Book Wedding

via Rock & Roll Bride
Oh dare I dream? A day of wedded bliss with Captain America? *cough* I mean, Mark? What a fantastic wedding idea, and of course, what could be geekier than superheroes, a comic book inspired font, and bright fun primary colors everywhere?

Harry Potter Wedding

via Bridal Guide
One of my favorite series of books, (and movies!) Harry Potter encompasses enchanting magic and fun. Picture this: The candlesticks overhead the Great Hall, the delicious candy from Honeydukes in a candy bar, wedding cocktails like Butter Beer and Polyjuice Potion, and magic wand favors. A good time for muggles and magic folk alike!

Steampunk/Victorian Wedding

via Ruffled Blog
Just a few hundred years ahead and you enter a fun period of time, the Victorian era. Add a steam-powered element and you’ve got the power of bustles and brass cogs. It’s geek meets history. I love it!

Doctor Who Wedding

via When Geeks Wed
The love of the Doctor and his companion… it’s like a modern day fairy tale. We did get engaged during Time Traveler’s weekend at the Renn Faire, and I was dressed as a Victorian TARDIS. Just sayin’.

That awkward moment when George Takei’s Duela Dent Facebook post turned into a geek girl gender war

George Takei posts Duela Dent cosplay

So I accidentally (and I think subconsciously) participated in a not-so-obvious gender battle yesterday. Or perhaps it was never a gender battle to begin with. Let’s discuss. It involved a mistaken cosplay shame meme. An Internet troll posted a meme, shaming a cosplayer’s Duela Dent costume, unaware that she was actually a legit comic book character, but instead believing that she had just put together 3 different ideas into a (very good) mash-up cosplay.

Let’s talk about the language on the meme. “Trying to hard” connotes shaming for effort. Why would we ever shame someone for putting in too much effort? Even if this was, as the meme maker falsely believes, a gender swapped steampunk Joker…. so? If someone tries to do something, and they put hours and hours into it, and it’s obvious they’ve put a lot of hard work into it, why would we try to shame them for it? This raises the question – if it was a male cosplayer with a similar 3 way mash-up, would he be “shamed” for extra effort? Even if the cosplay was executed terribly, if the effort was there, how could we shame someone in the cosplay community for partaking in a hobby we all love so much? But sadly, shaming exists. It isn’t something I ever expected to find so predominant in the geek community, but here we are.

It’s obvious the quality of her costume is incredible. But the meme maker’s issue seems to be with the quality – as well as diversity. It sounds to me like this person doesn’t like cosplay in general, with a statement like that. If they were a true cosplayer, I would doubt they would shame a member of their own community, no matter what they wore! I personally would give a 3-way well executed mash-up costume 5 stars! Mash-ups are hard! I did a “Dalek Princess” at New York Comic Con last year, and I don’t think most people got it. And anyway, if you’re going to be taking issue with any mash up cosplayer, it’s gotta be this guy first and foremost. *shudder*

I’m not sure exactly why I commented the way I did. Oh yeah, that’s right, because I’m an Internet pixie. I make stupid jokes. And I think I did immediately think, “Oh it’s because she’s a woman!” Looking back, yeah, it’s not blatantly about the fact that she is a girl, and a geek. But I think it might be, and even subconsciously, I was wondering, if this sort of thing is related to her gender. Is it that the meme maker (who obviously never heard of Duela Dent) assumed she was doing this for attention? For sexual glances? For something we’d stereotype the “Idiot nerd girl” for doing? What exactly makes the meme maker so mad? Is the meme maker a man?

I put my feelers out to the Geek Girl Pen Pals Facebook community and got some fantastic responses.

Post a comment to let me know what you think about my comment, this meme, and gender roles in the geek community in general. Did this thread get turned into a gender war for no reason? Or is it secretly about the fact that she’s a woman all along? I’d love to hear your thoughts.

Other cool articles on the topic
Blogpost # 3: Discrimination in Cosplay
Misogyny and Size Discrimination in Cosplay
The Negative Side of Cosplaying
I’m a Black Female Cosplayer And Some People Hate It