Having been a nerd/geek my entire life, I hope my story can offer encouragement to others in a similar situation.
I started wearing glasses since the age of four. When I was young, I remember being called "four-eyes." In retrospect, it sounds like a pretty cool thing to be called, like I have a super hero power or something; at the time though, I think the name calling hurt. I was an introverted kid and I think I identified myself with being a bit of an outcast.
(Totally rocking the high-top basketball shoes to sprint the 100 meter dash)
In junior high school I remember being shoved up against a locker and the kid who did it told me I was "a nerd." When I asked him why, he stammered for a moment and finally came up with "because you wear glasses." I thought this was a bit humorous and from that moment on became a self proclaimed nerd/geek. I was very happy with my personality and did not care to change at all. Even though I was picked on a bit, I had great friends and rather enjoyed junior high and high school.
Marching it up in a parade.
I did most of the stereotypical nerd things in high school. I was the band president as well as the chess club president.
I also was in some plays. I carried a yo-yo around with me all the time and would play with it in between classes. During lunch time, I would play ping pong and juggle.
Me with my high school graduation gifts.
I have always had a quirky personality. I think I often tried to be weird on purpose at times. I always wore goofy hats and never knew how to smile for the camera.
Playing trombone at my local library.
Even though I have always been happy with my personality and never had a desire to change, I have also always been very shy and self conscious about my looks. By the time I was 23 I had only ever asked out one girl on a date.
One of the first pictures of me not wearing glasses.
After graduating from high school and starting college I realized how much I wanted to get married and start a family. I began to fear I would never be able to marry the girl of my dreams because she would never be attracted to me. While ice blocking one day, I did a faceplant and broke my glasses. Rather than replacing them, I chose the cheap alternative and just decided to switch things up and stop wearing glasses. After having worn them for 20 years I felt naked without them, but it turns out that I had 20/20 vision and never really needed them in the first place.
Tried switching my hair up a bit.
A couple years after I ditched my glasses, I realized that I would not die if I tried to change my appearance a bit. I wanted to marry a girl I was attracted to and figured that girls would probably want the same thing. I have always been totally clueless when it comes to fashions, styles, and clothing, but I decided I would try to change the hairstyle I had done for my entire life. I tried to let it grow out so it could be curly. This is probably one of the first pictures of me having NOT combed my hair.
(Me doing a shake face with longer hair)
I experimented with different lengths of hair. I always prefered it really short because it was easy to manage, but I eventually tried growing it longer just for kicks.
As an added bonus, growing my hair out meant that I could dress up like Art Garfunkel.
Replacing my desk chair with an exercise bike.
By the time I had one year left before graduating from my university, I had a bit more confidence but was still very shy. Even though I would go on dates, I felt like the girls were just being nice and didn't want to hurt me by saying no. I rarely went on second dates and still did not have a girlfriend. I still felt that I didn't look very attractive. I was a bit conscious about my weight and quite frankly didn't know how else to change my appearance so I decided to start working out. I replaced my desk chair with an exercise bike and worked out for about 1-3 hours almost every day. I ended up losing about 20 pounds.
After I graduated, I still had no girlfriend and prospects were not looking too good. After trying for so long just to get a girlfriend it was a bit depressing for me to not see any results. One thing I can say though is that I began to be more confident. I felt like I was doing all that I could. I was trying to look better and was working out. I was just trying to be a nice guy, and be the kind of guy I thought girls were attracted to.
I went off to Alaska to work and had even less luck there. I would go on a date about once every other month. I was about ready to give up and then.....
I did it!
When I was 29 years old, I finally had my first kiss and got my first girlfriend! Getting a girlfriend really helped me to be less shy and more confident. I finally knew that there was someone out there who liked me enough to be my girlfriend. The girl I dated is wonderful and appreciated my quirky personality; ultimately though, I realized I was not in a lifelong relationship. We dated for less than half a year, but in that time I gained a lot of confidence and learned a lot about myself. In the subsequent years I had more luck with dating and was more confident with myself.
About a year later I got a new coworker. I was still quite shy and it took me more than a month to finally get the courage to talk to her. When I finally did, I felt like we instantly clicked (apparently she was kind of weirded out by me... but no matter. I am a weird guy). We started dating a couple months later.
We dated for a year and I was happy as could be! I knew I wanted to marry her. She put up with and even appreciated my nerdness. She even let me put Linux on her computer (though she never uses it). I felt like I finally found someone who appreciated me for who I am.
We kept dating and I proposed to her about a year and a half after we first met.
I am 31 years old and am on my honeymoon now. I have been married for a week. Ten years ago I never would have thought I would end up marrying someone as wonderful and as beautiful as my wife. I am still very much a nerd/geek but she loves me for that. I am so happy that I met my wonderful wife. If I were to give advice to my younger self, it would be this: "Things may not happen when or where you want them to. Just try your best; that is all you can do." That is pretty awesome that I ended on a rhyme, so I will just stop typing now.