Embrace The Awkward: 3 Pieces Of Advice For Academic Girls

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Let’s address the elephant in the room — being academic is awkward.

I’m not just talking about being smart, keeping straight A’s, or being the teacher’s pet. Nope, I’m talking about being academic.

In a word, “academic” means to be heavily involved in learning. In other words, you’re a person who loves to be a part of the studying, researching, theoretical world. Annotated bibliographies? You love them! Creating cool new hypotheses backed by empirical studies? Sign you up! There’s a whole world of academia out there to explore, and you’re a sucker for all of it.

Academic folks have been called a lot over the years, ranging from the politely off-putting to the downright mean. If you’re an academic type like I was in college, it can be awkward to find and meet people who share your interests. Case in point: Even one of my professors told me to try and be more “normal” instead of studying. And yes, I still cringe about it to this day.

I’m (a little) older, and now that I’m in my Ph.D. program, I’ve had a lot of time to think about my arrival to college for the first time as an academic girl. If I had the chance to do it all over again, here’s what I’d say to my younger self:

Find Time to Have Fun

She went about it awkwardly, but your professor was right — you do need time to have fun. Whether it’s just stepping outside for some fresh air or grabbing some shakes with friends, it’s okay to break away from your routine a bit. Those projects will still be waiting when you get back.

If you don’t believe me, trust the statistics. Taking breaks allows you to work faster, stay healthier, and make fewer trips to the ER. What’s not to love?

Explore Academic Opportunities

You’ll never know until you try, and when it comes to college, this rings even more true. Take advantage of all your opportunities while in school, from mock trial clubs and honor societies to quiz bowls and after school get-togethers. Your smarts can get you into a lot of places, and if you’re willing to see all there is out there, you never know what you might find.

I ended up joining three honor societies while in school, along with a few other after-school clubs and programs. The benefits were twofold: On one hand, I was putting my love of academia to good use. On the other, I was meeting new, like-minded folks who loved the fact that I liked academia as much as they did. Trust me, it’ll make you feel so much better to be surrounded by your people.

Embrace the Awkward

You’re that kid and everyone knows it. No sense in hiding it or in acting dumb to look “normal.” People aren’t going to like you more just because you lower your own test scores. Actually, they might like you less.

So, embrace the awkward. Act every bit your academic self and own up to it. You might not feel like the most popular girl in the room, but you shouldn’t change your entire identity to impress people you don’t even like. You owe it to yourself (and your teachers, for that matter) to be the best you can be.

Be Academic — and Proud

So what if you’re different? Own it. From sports players to professional chefs, everybody has something they’re passionate about. Your thing just happens to be school.

At the end of the day, it’s going to be awkward. The solution boils down to how you handle yourself. Don’t be bullied into giving up what you love, but don’t let your passion become your entire life, either. After all, you’re an academic! You’re destined for great things.

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Meagan Shelley

Meagan is a professional writer in VA that specializes in content marketing. See Full Bio

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