While I was trying desperately to keep my stomach contained within my bodily husk the last weekend, I went through a lot of new fiction and non-fiction on my e-reader. After proofing a manuscript for an upcoming voice gig, I started reading Wil Wheaton’s “Just a Geek.” I had snagged it as part of the Humble ebook Bundle but I’d not gotten around to reading it. So, I opened the file and started in.
It’s an excellent read, and a worthwhile study for anyone who feels locked into a role or expectation. I admit, I hopped on the bandwagon late when it came to Wheaton’s geek culture status, but I’ve enjoyed the blog posts and Twitter notes. I doubt he’s ever discovered that Mercurye of SWC fame was a huge Trekkie and admirer of Wesley Crusher, and that’s probably a good thing (because not everyone appreciates tributes, and I’m always terrified of making someone upset). I like interesting people, and he definitely fits that description.
(Isn’t that a strange thing to say? People follow others on Twitter because they’re “interesting,” a word that’s used as a threat as much as a compliment these days. But, what can I say… I like the guy. I like people who are authentic.)
As someone who hadn’t read many of his blog posts, and certainly none as early as those featured in his book, the stories and experiences Wil detailed were new and eye-opening. Within a handful of pages, many of my preconceived ideas got stripped and shredded, and I read to figure out how he got from point A to point B, both for his personal life and his professional life. It’s a conversational journey; coming from a non-Hollywood background, I thought I would find it hard to relate to the events, but Wil’s ability to talk through the unfamiliar territory made me appreciate the details without confusing me with minutia.
What hit home the most for me while reading was the idea that we need to go beyond the labels that others place on us. I confess, I’m not an actor out on the West Coast; I’ve never auditioned for a television show or a movie. In academia, labels are prevalent, especially in the divide between “faculty” and “staff” at the university level. Certain opportunities are not afforded to those without a certain label, even when training and experience is commensurate with the other label. It’s very easy to let others label us and fall back on those labels to support the voices of self-doubt.
I confess, my weekly blogging is some part of my “prove yourself” voice, but I’ve realized that the people to whom I’d started to try and prove myself wouldn’t read this blog or listen to me. We don’t owe it to the bullies and naysayers to prove ourselves to them in our daily actions and aspirations. Instead, we go through these exercises to prove ourselves to ourselves; in doing so, we rediscover and reconnect with an amazing person who is often greater than we initially realized and has more potential for achievement than anyone considered. Reading “Just A Geek” and seeing that realization for someone else is a lovely thing.
Maybe in a few years, I’ll be able to look back on some of my entries and see the same kind of growth for myself via writing and voice acting out of the box of academia. Who knows.
Note: For my part, I “rediscovered” Wil when I saw him credited as a voice talent for Aqualad on Teen Titans. Made my inner fangirl go all a-flutter, and considering my current push to do more narration and voice acting… well, it makes sense, doesn’t it?