The Geekologist: Your TARDIS Or Mine?Posted: April 17, 2013
Editor’s note: Writer Zainab Chaudary is coming on board as a LoveinshAllah.com monthly columnist!
Look for her column, “The Geekologist” every third Wednesday of the month!
I speak six languages.
Well, to be fair, one of them is not so much a language as it is an entire shift in being and mannerisms. I imagine I look like some sort of alarmed bird, a goose maybe, or a duck: my eyes get super-wide, I gesticulate wildly with my arms the way startled waterfowl flap their wings. I frighten small children and twitchy adults. Words like TARDIS, Hellmouth and “frak” escape my lips like gibberish.
I refer to it as “Geek-Speak,” though I’m sure it has other names like “Nerding Out” or “Fan-Girling.” Woe upon the unsuspecting friend who gets me started on a show I love, an underrated sci-fi concept, or space exploration. By the end of my breathless explanation, they look doubtful of my sanity and do a quick visual scan for the nearest exits.
Lately, it’s become more than just mild consternation for friends and family. It’s becoming a source of concern. “You’re scaring away the opposite sex with that stuff,” I’m told. “Stop posting weird Doctor Who memes on social networking sites, stop demanding that everyone watch Battlestar Galactica, and stop quoting Douglas Adams on your blog.”
If it’s not the nerd thing, it’s something else. It’s my open admission of rampant book addiction (that’s an understatement; words were transfused into my blood at an early age and now run inescapable curlicues through my veins). Or the socially fatal disease of being a writer. The people who love me most tell to make no mention of these things to prospective dates. They are torn between encouraging me to be myself and worrying that being myself will lead to a partner-less existence.
I’m not the only person worried about these things. A lovely, successful friend in her early thirties is trying to decide whether or not to take on a leadership position at work. She is cognizant of the very real affect it will have on her marriageability index. On the one hand, she will be good in this position and she has the chance to make an impact. On the other hand, men shrink from her assertiveness and determination. Many are intimidated by what I see as her superpowers.
Yet another friend has achieved the Holy Grail of Pakistani-ness by becoming a doctor, only to constantly meet men who don’t want doctors as wives and mothers. A male friend would like nothing more than to go everywhere in life wearing jeans, a T-shirt, and the faded leather sandals that have accompanied him on so many foreign travels. To many women, however, these things make him invisible in the face of the Ray-Ban-wearing, Beemer-driving men in suits.
My curiosity, opinions, and my interests were encouraged as I was growing up, by my family and friends. The people who provided the love and support I fed off of have backed this intellectual streak for two decades. But, lately, the messages are mixed. I’ve been told that Muslim men find my intellectual curiosity intimidating. I’ve been told that I’m scaring prospective dates away when I gush about the books, nerd pursuits and sci-fi shows that I love.
As an exuberant but awkward nerd girl, I’m already terrible at love and romance. A friend of mine knows exactly which character in a book or film or television show I will relate to the most: “The bookish, strong, smart, independent, somewhat socially-awkward, terrible-at-love tomboy,” he’ll snicker. “Predictable.”
I do not need additional burdens.
I know that personal evolution consists of constantly attempting to purge the negative and cultivate the positive. I know that I need to work on my vulnerability and let people in without fearing the outcome. But I never once believed that all the things that I see as positives would be detrimental in my love life. So, I must choose who I want to be: the person the world wants to see or the person I really am. Perhaps I can be a mixture of both without compromising my true self. But that’s a delicate balancing act no one can keep up for long.
Here’s the thing: if we are each wholly unique pieces of a jigsaw puzzle, the things that make us fit are our peaks, valleys and our rounded jutting curves. Sometimes, it seems like a piece finds a spot to click into, but upon closer examination, you find that something’s not entirely right. The ridges don’t quite match up. If you keep that piece in that forced, precarious position, you’ll never be able to finish the puzzle. The other pieces are relying on it to be in its place elsewhere in the picture.
Similarly, the purpose of Muslim love is not to find a partner to mold into all the things you’ll hope they’ll be – it is to find the right partner, one whose flaws you can manage and whose realities you can embrace. And one who will do the same for you.
I’m going to let my nerd flag fly, people. I’ve built around myself a fortress of words and inside it I sit, enraptured by the doings of my imagination, engrossed in the stories on the pages, dreaming of something that will feel right. I search for the person who inspires me to be vulnerable, the person who won’t break down this fortress, but who will break in and break through, sit cross-legged across from me and share this life of imagination. Somewhere out there is the guy who can take me on as I am, who can let his geek flag fly alongside my nerd one and be content in our little corner of the human jigsaw puzzle.
Somewhere out there is that piece that fits just right.
LoveinshAllah.com columnist Zainab Chaudary works in politics by day and as a writer by night. Her blog, The Memorist, ruminates upon travel, religion, science, relationships, and the past, present, and future experiences that make up a life. She tweets @TheMemorist