Everyone is most comfortable among people who they feel understand them. That’s why co-workers still spend time together after they clock out, why we keep in touch with classmates long after school ends, even why neighbors strike up a friendship that goes beyond waving at each other in passing. Having common ground is important in any relationship, especially on subjects that are near and dear to your heart.
Sadly, even with the people you’re closest to, you don’t always find common ground on the things that are most important to you. I’m talking about our geek passions. No matter how well we get along at the job, when we tell our co-workers we’re going to a science-fiction convention over the weekend, we get blank, confused stares (if not a little trepidation) in response.
Our friends and family love us, but they can’t fathom what this “role-playing game” thing is all about. Or why we’re willing to stand in line for hours – in a costume – to be the first person in the theater for the latest Marvel Studios movie. Or why we’ve re-read the Harry Potter series twenty times.
Sound familiar? Do you wish you could find a way for those non-geeks in your life to understand you just a little better? Well, I’ve got a secret for you.
Almost Everyone’s A Geek About Something
Rare is the person who isn’t passionate about something, and that’s what being a geek is all about. They may not consider themselves a geek, and they may not be obsessed with something normally thought of as geeky, but mark my words, there’s a little geek in everyone.
(I see geeky people. They’re everywhere. And they don’t even know that they’re geeks!)
Don’t believe me? Let me give you an example: my dear parents. They’re farmers, both in their 60s, and a bit old-fashioned. They’ve never been on the internet, don’t see movies until they come out on cable, and, while supportive of their daughter and son-in-law in their RPG business, the extent of their “gaming” experience is a few rounds of Pictionary at the neighbors’ house on a cold winter night.
Decidedly ungeeky, right? Wrong. My dad can tell you all the specs of a 6601 John Deere pull-type combine without blinking an eye. He also collects toy tractors with the enthusiasm of a 5-year old boy, and is the country version of Clark Griswold when it comes to Christmas lights.
My mom loves to read. She tends to latch onto an author, reading everything they publish, and she can’t stop talking about an especially good book. She’s also a highly talented seamstress and gardener, and is all about the excitement of a new sewing project, or introducing a new flower or vegetable to her garden. She can spend hours in a fabric store or pouring over the pages of the latest Gurney seed catalog.
I don’t know about you, but my parents sound pretty geeky to me.
Make The Connection
If these are people you talk to frequently, it shouldn’t be hard to figure out the things they love to the point of fanboy- or fangirlishness. Use that knowledge to casually make a connection between your loves and theirs. I would not recommend saying, “Hey, you’re totally geeking out about your upcoming Civil War reenactment! You’re just like me with my Faye Valentine costume!” Calling someone a geek when they don’t consider themselves one isn’t very endearing.
But you could say, “Wow, it sounds like you really pay attention to the details on your Civil War gear. Believe it or not, I’m the same way when it comes to my cosplay outfits. It can really be tough to get everything perfect, but it’s worth it to have it exactly right!” When you notice a glassware or china collection in someone’s home, you could ask, “Isn’t it a great feeling to finally find a piece that you’ve been looking for forever? I think that searching for G.I. Joe figures I’m missing is one of the best parts of collecting them.” Have a relative who loves Gone with the Wind so much she rereads it at least once a year? Tell her about how much you adore the character of Tasslehoff Burrfoot and never tire of reading his adventures over and over again.
Even if it seems like a stretch to compare collecting depression glass to action figures, at their core, the hobbies are the same, based on a real passion for something. Once that initial connection is made, the conversation can progress, and the next thing you know, that fellow collector suddenly doesn’t think your hobby is so strange anymore.
The Exception To The Rule
It’s a sad fact that there are a few people out there who don’t have anything they’re passionate about. They don’t have collections, never watch the same movie multiple times or reread a book, and simply don’t get very excited about anything. I know a few people like this, and honestly feel sad for them. My hobbies and passions bring me so much joy, I know I’d be miserable without them.
Someone with no passions has no geek in them. They will scoff at you spending $30 out of every paycheck at the comic shop, roll their eyes when you head off to a midnight showing of the newest Star Trek movie, and shake their heads when you announce your plans for a marathon Pathfinder session.
How do you get these folks to understand your geeky loves? I admit that I don’t know – I’ve certainly had no luck. I’d welcome any suggestions from my readers!
Give It A Try!
If there’s someone in your life who you really wish understood why you love what you love, give my suggestions a try and let me know how it goes. Or, if you have had success with another method, I’d love to hear about that too!