Influencing Nerds

Being the oldest of my siblings comes with a lot of responsibility. I have to navigate the world knowing that my actions are being watched by people who I influence, whether for good or for bad. This influence comes in many forms, such as a dedication to school, taste in music, and love of books. My personal favorite way to influence my siblings are with my many interests. While none of my siblings identify as a nerd, they definitely have some nerd qualities, which I try to develop as much as possible.

With my brother it hasn’t been as easy. We’re really close in age and so we often came across things at the same time. In some cases, he’s discovered some things before me and the reason I try them out are because he suggested them to me. To be quite honest, I wouldn’t be a fan of Naruto, The Hunger Games, or A Series of Unfortunate Events if he hadn’t begun reading them first. In other cases, our father introduced us at the same time; our whole family are huge Star Wars and Lord of the Rings fans. Other times, he specifically resists liking the things I like. For example, he refuses to read Harry Potter because I am obsessed with the series (really, it’s his loss).

With my sisters things are different. My 16-year-old sister is what Robyn and I like to call a “reluctant nerd.” Whenever I recommend certain things to her, she tends to be really slow on listening to me, but once she does she is hooked. This has happened with Doctor Who and a number of other things, but the most recent example is when I told her to listen to the Hamilton Cast Album.

Ever since I started listening to this album, I’ve been hooked. Since it’s a Broadway show, there are a bunch of songs and is split into two acts. It’s 46 songs long, and every time you listen to it you want to listen all the way through. My sister loves musicals and Hip-Hop and since this play merges the two, I knew immediately that she would be into it. But, like always, she took a lot of time ignoring me when I told her to give it a listen. I’ll admit here that I tend to pressure my sister to try a lot of things I like mostly because I hate feeling isolated. While I have Robyn as by nerd BFF, I still grew up in a family and with friends who weren’t as nerdy as me, and so bonding over common interests was not always easy. The easiest way for me to combat this however, is to get my sister to love it too. That way, we can talk and geek out about the things we both love. I don’t think it’s necessary for her to identify as a nerd, I really just like us having things in common because I didn’t really have that growing up and now she’s old enough where it doesn’t feel weird.

Now that she’s listened to the Hamilton album, she’s as into it as I am, as I knew she would be. We talk about the show, the songs, sing-along, and make our youngest sister excited to listen to it as well. And that brings me to her.

My youngest sister is three years old and as the baby of siblings who are much older than her, she often acts like a small teenager. One of the things about being the youngest is that you look up to your older siblings, and my baby sister is not an exception to this. In one way it’s a lot of responsibility because I don’t want to set a flawed example for her, but in other ways it can be fun. Hearing her gush about how she loves the Hulk and listening to her sing about how she is “not throwing away my shot” are some of the best things ever, but my favorite is her interest in Harry Potter.

As I said above, my brother purposefully steered clear of anything Harry Potter-related. My first younger sister is into the movies, and has read the first two books but she just isn’t as excited about them (though I still posit that she would love them if she just got through Prisoner of Azkaban). She can make Potter jokes and loves the characters, but it’s not on the level of me or other Potterheads because she hasn’t read the books or directly grown up with the characters. With my baby sister, it’s different.

I hang out with my baby sister a lot, so it goes without saying that she has absorbed some of my knowledge about the Wizarding World. She always begs to play with my magic wand, when I was out of town once she practiced learning who Harry, Ron, and Hermione were (from the movie pictures) so that she could surprise me, and almost every day she begs for me to read (which really means to show her the pictures) the illustrated edition of Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone. It’s fun creating another Potterhead mainly because I know what the books have done for me growing up. As she is not old enough for me to even read the books to her, my sister engages with the series at a very low level, but it still makes me happy.

Growing up as the only nerd (that I knew of at the time) in my family has been a difficult thing, but being the eldest has allowed me to influence my siblings, allowing us to have similar interests, even if they aren’t as enthusiastic about those interests as I am. It’s fun to be able to see their excitement about the things I love, and to be able to nerd out about them. Of course, my enthusiasm has so far been unmatched, but I always look forward to nerdy conversations with my siblings.