Wil Wheaton: Why It’s Great to Be a Nerd

An expectant mother at a comics convention asked a Star Trek actor to tell her unborn daughter why it's great to be a nerd.

By Wil Wheaton
Also published in Reader's Digest Magazine January 2014

Side Pocket with pencils pens and rulersDan Winters
My name is Wil Wheaton—and I am a nerd. It’s awesome to be a nerd.

I don’t know what the world is going to be like by the time you understand this. I don’t know what it’s going to mean to be a nerd when you are a young woman. For me, when I was growing up, being a nerd meant that I liked things that were a little weird, that took a lot of effort to appreciate and understand. It meant that I loved science, playing board games, reading books, and really understanding what went on in the world instead of just riding the planet through space.

When I was a little boy, people really teased me about that and made me feel like there was something wrong with me for loving those things. Now that I’m an adult, I’m a professional nerd, and the world has changed. I think we have realized that being a nerd is not about what you love but about how you love.

So there’s going to be a thing in your life that you love. I don’t know what it’s going to be. It might be sports or science or reading or telling stories—it doesn’t matter what it is. The way you love that thing and how you find other people who love it the way you do is what makes being a nerd awesome. Some of us love Game of Thrones, while others love Star Trek or Star Wars. But we all love those things so much that we travel thousands of miles—which is probably easy for you, but we’re still using fossil fuels, so it’s difficult—to be around people who love the things that we love the way that we love them. That’s why being a nerd is awesome.

Don’t let anyone tell you that the thing that you love is a thing that you can’t love. Don’t let anyone ever tell you, “You can’t love that. That’s for boys.” You find the things that you love, and you love them the most that you can.

And listen, this is really important: I want you to be honest, honorable, and kind. I want you to work hard because everything worth doing is hard. I want you to be awesome, and I will do my very best to leave you a planet that you can still live on.

Have a great life.

Wil Wheaton is an actor, a writer, and a dad. He’s known for playing Wesley Crusher on the TV series Star Trek: The Next Generation and for his appearances on The Big Bang Theory.

  • Your Comments

    • Parulle

      Typo in the last line- ‘writer’…but I guess January’s issue’s already in print by now.

      Also, there are many ‘famous nerds’ out there but I don’t get why Wheaton for one has to constantly project and rub in his nerd status ALL the time. All over his Twitter, interviews, everywhere. I don’t see any other ‘nerd’ constantly calling themselves one (Melissa Meyer, Zuckerberg et al). I don’t know. He’s cool but I wish he would calm down.