Over the years, I've learned plenty of lessons about being a nerd - some fun, some not-so-fun, and some slightly pointless. And for the two years I've been writing this column I've had the joy of sharing some of those lessons with you - and picking up some lessons from all of you along the way. But I'm more than a year out of the Herd and it's time to pass the torch to another wordy nerd (heh.)

From documenting my time in Paris three years ago to nerding out, I've loved spending time each week thinking of ways to make you smile, laugh and cry - but, most of all, to make you think. So for my farewell, I want to share a recap of the greatest lessons I've learned with all of you by my side.

(Jessica Ryan)

Nerds can be pretty rough to each other. We constantly compare ourselves to each other and battle it out over "nerd cred." Part of nerdiness is belonging to a community, and sometimes our communities are less than awesome - whether they're fandoms, student groups and clubs, or even our professional scenes. Some nerd-on-nerd war goes down, and it really sucks sometimes.

We can be rough on non-nerds, too. Sometimes people are trying to join one of those nerdy communities and they get shut out before they even get a chance. Nerds treat others poorly based on stereotypes, partially out of defense, since we're typically bullied based on stereotypes of our own to begin with. It's a vicious cycle of superiority that ultimately causes us to go against most of the values that make us nerds in the first place.


But, ultimately, being nerdy is awesome - and anyone can do it. Nerdiness, at least in the contemporary context from which I've written the last couple of years, means being excited and passionate about something. Anything. From "Sherlock" to organic chemistry to fantasy football, there's potential for nerdiness in all of us. Being nerds gives us the opportunity to focus on things we like, instead of always talking about things and people that drag us down.

Modern technologies, like social media, allow us to find other people who like what we like - and it gets easier every single day. We get to interact directly with creators through outlets like Cons and Twitter (one of my favorite bloggers @ replied me the other day and I almost died...) Our means of expressing our passions - from fan art to cosplay and entire derivative works - can be created and shared in new ways, and I am constantly blown away by people's creativity and resourcefulness.

Sure, nerd world has its problems. But we've found our voice and learned how to use it, and we're taking a stand in the name of passion and excitement. Thank you for letting me use my voice to share my passions with you the last few years - it's been my pleasure geeking out with you.

Smell ya later, nerds.

Jess Ryan is a social media strategist. She's been honored to write about study abroad and nerdy things once a week for the Colorado Daily for the last three years. On Twitter: @jessryanco