Mandan News

Life of a nerd

Observations of a News Editor
By Dustin White

Growing up, I always knew I was a bit different. When others enjoyed going to parties, I preferred to spend time doing research. In addition to performing magic, I was what one would call a nerd.

Being a nerd is something I’ve always worn like a badge. During high school, while others were trying to climb up the social ladder, I’d shrug off such notions and read the notebooks of Leonardo da Vinci. Once I even decided to read the dictionary, which I can tell you is not as fun as it sounds. I truly enjoyed being a nerd.

Later on, I found out part of the reason I became a nerd is because I have Asperger Syndrome, which is an autism spectrum disorder. Such a diagnosis didn’t change anything, but it did allow me to better understand who I am.

Throughout the years, having Asperger’s has been difficult. There are hurdles that I try not to trip over, and being a big man, it sometimes is hard to jump high. But it is a part of who I am, and its not going to change. When I wake up tomorrow, or the next day, I’m still going to have Asperger, so I just have to continue to live.

There are times in which this is more of a problem than others.

A few weeks ago, while browsing through a social network site, I had seen that one of my “friends” had asked a question. Personally, I love answering questions, especially if it means I have to do research to find the answer. Like I said, I’m a nerd.

In this case though, this individual did not actually want an answer. The purpose of the question was really to complain, and a cue for others to sympathize.

That is something I have a hard time understanding. Part of it has to do with detecting sarcasm, which I often struggle with. This is something that many often are surprised by as I spent a number of years as performing as a sarcastic comedy magician.

The other part of it has to do with the want for other people to sympathize over something I think is incidental. If I have a complaint, I’ll just work it out logically, trying to find a solution that lacks emotion. It’s not that I don’t feel emotions, but that’s not how I process information.

I wouldn’t change who I am though. I enjoy my wife being able to come to me to ask nearly any question and being able to receive a well-researched answer, even if it takes a few days to get to.
When my son grows up, I’m excited to explore the situations that he brings up.

There have been many times that it would have been easy to hide behind, or use Asperger’s as an excuse. To do so though would only be hampering. If I had succumbed to such, I might never have met my wife, found a career I enjoy, or pursued my passion of learning.

Instead, I have found it better to accept who I am, and work with that. The flaws and imperfections only give me more to experiment with. If it breaks, who really cares as it was already broken. And with enough duct tape, it can be put back together.