Adopted by the Geeks and Nerds

Andrew and I were the first ones to adopt K.  She has lived with us from the time she was several months old, and we have escorted her through the ups and downs of daily life for seven years.

And then last month there was the great water bottle incident, where K was teased for carrying a Star Wars thermos.  The little boys told her during lunch and recess that Star Wars was only for boys.  I wrote a post about it, and a lot of people paid attention.

There are countless clubs and organizations out in the world, and I have witnessed the great unifying power of common interests.  I have seen waves of emotion shared by people at musical concerts.  I have seen sports fans literally go nuts over the outcome of big games.  I remember when my husband and I were lucky enough to be attending the White Sox game where Buerhle pitched a perfect game, and the energy connecting the fans was awesome.

But until I wrote the anti-bullying article, I had underestimated the unifying power among the self-named Geeks, Nerds, Star Wars fans and science fiction fans.  They can cheer with the best of the sports fans.  Aided by the speed and ease of social media, the Geeks sent K's story zipping around the globe.

Without a doubt, they have been the most vocal supporters of K's preference for "boy toys."  Their voices are passionate and compassionate.  They have left thousands of comments, and the comments tell the story of a group of people who were marginalized during their childhoods for being nerdy and for being girls who liked "boy interests".

They were teased; they were bullied.  They were taunted and laughed at and ridiculed.  There is a wide spectrum of behavior between teasing and bullying, and the people who have responded to K's story fall all along the spectrum.

What strikes me is how these individuals who were once so isolated are now part of a very tight community.  They have found each other; they are plugged into each other, and they have each other's backs.  Now they have K's back, too.  The Geeks have adopted Katie, taken her by the hand and offered to escort her through life as a girl who likes Star Wars.

"Show me the treasures of darkness," my friend Beth counseled me years ago, when we were both grieving the loss of our first babies.  I have always remembered her wise words.  There are always gifts to be found in times of trouble.

Time and again, the treasure in the darkness is the goodness in people, the kindness of strangers who hear your story and send their support.

During this holiday season, there have been unexpected gifts for K.  These gifts are labors of love from people who have never met her but still care about her.

A Star Wars fan named Melissa knitted a warm soft Princess Leia hat for K to wear this winter.  K slipped it on her head and smiled as if her face would break into two pieces.

A first grade teacher named Danielle runs a Star Wars themed classroom in California.  Danielle's students all wrote letters to K, complete with beautiful drawings.  Danielle bound the letters into a book called Letters To K and sent it on.  Today, K woke up sick with a fever, crying and throwing up.  In the afternoon, I saw her lying on the couch, huddled under a blanket and reading the letters from a group of children across the country.  There was a smile on her face.

An artist for Star Wars named Scott Zirkel drew K a picture of herself as a Jedi holding a light saber.  We are framing it to hang in her room.

Above all, there is the gift of other people's stories.  These are gifts that cannot be purchased in a store.  They cannot be replicated, and they mean the world to us.

And Katie is learning how to reach out to help other children in the same way that she has been helped.  A mother named Emily called to tell me that her first grade son was recently teased for bringing My Little Pony for show and tell.  She said he was terribly upset by the incident, and when I told K about it, she called to leave a message for the child.

She said, "I am K.  I like Star Wars, and you like My Little Pony.  I know other boys who like to play with My Little Pony, and it's great, and umm, May the Pony Be With You!" she finished proudly.

It is a gift to watch your child grow.

At K's school, the entire week coming up is dedicated to learning about gender bias.  On Friday, December 10th, her school is having Proud To Be Me Day and is encouraging all students to wear something that represents their special interests regardless of gender (i.e. a girl in a Star Wars shirt or a boy in a princess shirt).

It is a gift to watch a group of people come together to support the blue girls and pink boys struggling to navigate life in a society that can be rigidly split along gender lines.  It is a treasure in the darkness.

 

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  • Katie - I'm so sorry to hear you're sick. Feel better soon! So glad you're enjoying the hat (and all the other goodies people have sent).

    (Yay, I was able to log in!)

  • As a "tomboy" growing up, I didn't really get a lot of flak from my peers or at school. We had a very gender-neutral upbringing with creative toys like Lego and blocks in the class rather than dolls and trucks.
    One thing that always made me feel a sting, though, was being asked, "Girl toy or boy toy" at McDonalds. Well, I wanted the Hot Wheels/Power Rangers/X-Men... Which one was that? After all, I played Hot Wheels/Power Rangers/X-Men equally with girls and boys.
    Today, my tastes have gone more toward the traditionally feminine but I'm proud when asked at McDonalds (yes, this many years later) if I'd like a "boy toy or girl toy" that I'd like "the Hello Kitty watch, please". But when they had those Clone Wars toys... ;)

  • In reply to Celluloid:

    Katie, Girls grow up and become the most amazing things- take a look at my experience being bullied as a little girl. I am now one of the only women in the country that owns a MMA training school and I am the only woman who owns a Combat SPorts GYm in Chicago. I was teased over Star Wars, Baseball and Karate and now I am a professional martial artist that has traveled the world and starred in 17 videos/dvds/ - not an easy journey, but dont compromise who you are - Blog writer - POW Mixed MArtial Arts for ChicagoNOw, Katalin www.powkickboxing.com and www.powkidschicago.com. Look at my class called - SuperHero Training -

  • In reply to Celluloid:

    Hi Katie!

    I hope that you're feeling better on what thousands have adopted as a day to celebrate your story. I wanted to write you a quick note to say that as a fellow adopted-Star-Wars-loving human, your story related to me on a very personal level.

    I too was subject to bullying at times in my life, but used those moments as brick and mortar in building my self-confidence and the base for the person that I am today.

    I'm a 27-year-old Chicagoan, and continue to tell anyone who asks that my favorite movie of all time is The Empire Strikes Back. I'm proud of my knowledge, love and admiration for a film series that defined a big part of my life. (I recently competed in a trivia game all about Star Wars with nearly a hundred others and did very well!)

    When I was 21, I met my wife (another big Star Wars fan!), and Star Wars was one of the first movies we watched together. We went to Disney World for our first wedding anniversary and were both ecstatic to ride Star Tours again.

    I am sure that having read the thousands of messages from supporters around the world, that you now realize that you're not alone, and that there are millions of people just like you out there. Continue to be proud of your passions as those traits inspire others!

    Enjoy your day and others before me have said... May The Force Be With You!

  • In reply to Celluloid:

    We are Geeks, and we support this Geek Pride Day! In fact, we thought every day was Geek day!
    Our chicken, Lady Betty Orpington, wrote a song in your honor.
    We happily support all kinds of Geekness, and we hope that you have a wonderful life full
    of opportunities to be your own true self!
    We hope you will visit our blog, and see Lady Betty Orpington's song for you!
    http://www.chickenblog.com

  • In reply to Celluloid:

    I saw this story on yahoo and immediately wanted to reach out. As the daughter of a sci-fi dad, I grew up loving Star Wars. When I was moving to a new home in middle-school, I became a part of an online roleplaying community centered around the Star Wars universe, where we all made up our own characters and wrote stories together. This place became such a large part of my life for so many years (I think going on 9). Not only am I a huge Star Wars fan (and unashamed to announce it on my college campus!), but I was also the target of bullying. You see, my left eye muscle is longer than my right, causing my eyelids to be uneven. When I was younger, kids were mean to me about it, and it always bothered me in photos. I thought I had gotten over it, but last year a mean and immature college student wrote "Lazy Eye" on my name tag. Additionally, I was the target of cyber bullying while on the fore-mentioned website.

    I look forward to hearing more about you as you grow up. Force be with you ^_~

  • In reply to Celluloid:

    Hi Carrie and Katie,

    I would like to tell you about my daughter Maya. She is 8 years old. She is a lovely girl that loves her friends and school. She adores her little brother. She loves horses, 80s heavy rock music, Jack Skellington, transformers, books and she is starting to like Star Wars. Her smarts are beyond her years. She constantly surprises everybody around her. She protects her loved ones and stands up for them.

    Because she is sensitive and likes a lot of "boy's" toys, she gets teased a lot. Specially by the boys in her class. While she doesn't have a hard time standing up for others this is the area where she has had a hard time in the past. She usually doesn't say anything back. But she gets very upset. Even though we have talked about it a few times, she hasn't felt confident enough to do anything or say anything. We do buy a lot of her favorite stuff on the boys section and I know this makes her feel like that those boys may be right.

    But today was a different day. Today, my son Lance (4YO), Maya and I wore our Star Wars clothing on behalf of you. And guess what happened to Maya? Yes. The boys in her 2nd grade classroom laughed at her and told her that SW was for boys only. Her response to them was "I don't care". And they stopped. She said that she didn't really cared what they said.

    Why the change you may ask? What happened? Simple. YOU! Your story. As soon as I read Jen's post at Epbot last month, I went and read everything I could about Katie and her story and as soon as Maya got home I shared it with her. She was upset that the boys at first but then she was jumping in excitement when I read to her some of the responses that you got. "AMAZING" she said. "That's so exciting mom." Since then she has been waiting for today. To wear her SW t-shirt and hoodie to show her support for Katie.

    Your story has helped my Maya find a way to stand up for herself. And be proud of who she is. From a mother to another, THANK YOU! And thank you Katie, you're amazing.
    Lots of <3

    Gena

  • In reply to Genamex:

    Gena- This made my day! We had a wonderful Star Wars day, complete with a cake that said Happy Star Wars Day, Katie. I am thrilled that Maya wore her Star Wars clothes, and so is Katie. Tell Maya she rocks! Carrie

  • In reply to CarrieGoldman:

    It sound like you had a great day! Maya had a huge smile when I told her what you had said. Thanks again Carrie and thanks Katie.

  • In reply to CarrieGoldman:

    I know lots have already sent their love, so I figure, hat the hey, a little more love couldn't hurt.

    I grew up with an older brother who loved watching things like Star Wars, Jurassic Park, Aliens, Jaws, etc, so I grew up affiliated with "boy" interests. I also liked nail polish and playing with Barbies (although usually they were "Jedi-Ladies" or "Jurassic Scientists" soon to have big fights). I also grew up as a type 1 diabetic, and having role models like Jedi's and other "for-male-geeks-only" interests help me deal with the constant shots. I got teased, got called out for being a tomboy, but I never stopped loving Star Wars, and I have never regretted having these interests. You go Katie for breaking the gender bias! Teach them Siths what you're made of ;)

  • In reply to CarrieGoldman:

    OMG- can I get a Leia hat??

  • In reply to Genamex:

    Hey, Katie! I'm Tracy, a 19-year-old college student. Your story made me cry because I know exactly how it feels. I loved Star Wars and other science fiction stories when I was your age. I still do! More than a few times, I was told that I couldn't know anything about science fiction because I was a girl. I was bullied, too, and I can understand how you feel.

    I just wanted to let you know that in the future, there are going to be people that think you loving Star Wars is awesome! I just met someone recently who thought it was awesome that I'm a girl who loves Star Wars. Never let anyone tell you what you can and can't like. You're a strong little girl for getting this far.

    Star Wars was a huge part of my childhood, and today I'm a college student, no longer bullied, who loves being a scifi geek. Be proud of yourself, Katie, and don't let the bullies get you down!

    May the Force be with you! :)
    - Tracy

  • In reply to Celluloid:

    Top story on yahoo right now (540p) is Katies!

  • In reply to Celluloid:

    Katie-
    When I was young I was a tomboy and to this day have more male friends than female friends. I've always like Star Wars - it's one of the reasons I liked science so much. I now have my PhD in Chemistry and am doing cancer research. I'm no Jedi, but I've found my way in the world. You will too. It will take time and tears, but you'll get there. Have faith in yourself and you'll go far. Us nerds/geeks stick together. You're not alone.

  • In reply to Celluloid:

    Hi Katie I am a big fan of Star Wars my favorite jedi is Luminara Unduli. I saw all of the six movies I can tell you almost anything about Star Wars. I think Star Wars is cool.
    My favorite movie is Attack of the Clones. Star wars is for girls too. Tell your friends that I said that was not very nice. My name is Andrew Z. I live in North Jackson, Ohio.
    I am in fourth grade and if you can write to me then I will be happy to talk a lot.

  • What a wonderful story. Katie's individuality and kind heart will take her far in life:)

  • I love this "Proud To Be Me" day idea. Maybe adults should incorporate it into our lives at work as well as helping youth. There's a lot of bias out there, kids feel it the hardest (or are at least the most vocal about it), to teaching them at an early age is... brilliant.

    Yoda, Luke, and the other Jedi would be proud.

  • Hi Katie,

    I'm a long time Star Wars fan. I was 6 years old when I saw the first movie in 1977. I remember waiting in line for over 2 hours just to see it, and then the amazing Star Destroyer flying into the screen just seemed to keeping coming. It was amazing. Growing up I remember being picked on for being such a big fan of Star Wars. When the movies came back in the 1990's and 2000's I had my own children to take. I now have four girls and boy. Almost all of them like Star Wars.

    I work in downtown Seattle in a building often called the Darth Vader building. In my office I have a pretty good collection of toys, games, books, comics, and other Star Wars items that people have given me over the years, all because they know how much I love Star Wars.

    Don't be ashamed to be you.. I know it seems hard now and that time seems to go on forever. In not too many year you'll be a grown-up and you'll be among many Star Wars fans both men and women!

    May the force be with you and Happy Holidays!!!

    Kevin in Seattle

  • Geeks unite! The power of fandom is strong. We'll always stand up behind one of our own. Stay awesome, Katie!

  • i'm the woman who used to be a girl who had to wear a back brace to school, and i am so glad that my comment helped out on a tough morning. believe me, there were MANY mornings that i didn't want to wear what i had to to make my body stronger and better - at the time, it just felt like something that the doctors and my parents cooked up to make me miserable. now that i'm older, i'm so happy that i did what i was supposed to do when i was younger, even though it was hard.
    it's great to hear that katie has taken the message of tolerance and inclusiveness to heart - it must have meant so much to the little boy who likes my little pony to have received that phone call.

  • Carrie - just to let Katie know that there are tons of adopted kids in Evanston. She's not "different" that way. My twins are now in high school and have lots of adopted and not adopted friends. They don't seem to think about it at all except to think it's cool when they make make another adopted friend. I'm sure they'd be happy to meet Katie.

  • Dear Katie,
    When I was a little girl, I was different too. I liked 'boy' things like Star Wars and science fiction, and people wouldn't be my friend because they thought I was too weird and 'too smart.' So I tried to act less smart, but it just made me sadder because I couldn't make myself like things that people told me girls should like. And then I decided if I was going to be sad either way, I might as well be enjoying things I liked. I joined Latin club even though it was all boys, and after a while they got used to me and I made some really good friends. I went on to major in Latin, and now I'm a professor. Some people still don't want to be my friend because I'm still a girl who likes lightsabers more than fancy shoes, but I'm happy because I'm me, and I know my friends like me for who I really am. They like geeky things like Science Fiction and Latin too, and we have tons of fun when we get together. It's not easy to be different, but it's a lot more fun than being just like everybody else! I hope you find some good friends who like you for you. Take care, sister.

  • I must add: I'm *extremely* jealous of the drawing.

  • Katie, I read your mom's article a few weeks ago and it made me cry because it reminded me what it was like to be teased by some boys for being into "boy things" like Star Wars when I was little. I was a tomboy and a total geek. I loved (and still do) computers, video games, and sci-fi shows like the X-Files. I was teased then, but now I can't get boys to stop asking me out because I love these geeky things. I wish I could have been as brave and confident as you are now, and embraced my geeky side earlier in life. You're such an awesome girl and are such an example for other girls who are going through the same sort of things.

    I had to wear a patch too. I have amblyopia and the patch helped strengthen one of my eyes. It made me feel real self-conscious and I always thought people were looking at me, but thinking back on it now, I think a lot of it was just my imagination. You're beautiful and an eye patch isn't going to take away from that! The patch isn't permanent and you'll soon forget you were ever worried about what people thought of yours. I know I'm no longer shaken up by those memories. It bothered me at the time but now I'm happy I stuck with it because my eyes are a lot better.

    I would've been so jealous of you too because I always wanted to wear glasses when I was your age but my eyesight was never bad enough. I even walked into a wall once trying to convince my parents that I needed a pair! Glasses are awesome and you look really cute in yours. (I finally got mine in high school and there is no way anyone is going to get me to wear contacts.)

    I'm 24 now, and am a Systems Analyst in a specialty IT group. I'm the only girl in my group, I was the only girl to graduate in my IT program, and the only girl to get computer certifications in my high school. I'm married to another geek who loves that I love things like Star Wars. Things get so much better! Don't sweat the small stuff like stinky boys who bully.

    And please feel better! Throwing up is no fun.

    <3

  • I am SOOOOO wearing my Star Wars shirt this Friday! But not just for me, but also for you, Katie, and for all others!

    (Well, I'll have to choose one Star Wars shirt out of the multitudes I have. ;) )

    <3

  • Dear Katie,
    My name is Judy and I work at NASA Johnson Space Center in Houston Texas. I have always loved Star Wars and everything to do with space. I also have amblyopia and wore a patch as a child. Here at NASA most of us were bullied and called nerds when we were children. That is because we (and YOU!) are the smart ones. We don't have to be just like every other person, we are our own individuals. Being creative, having an imagination and the intelligence to follow our dreams has been the driving force of our space program for many years. There is a man on my hall that has an old Star Wars metal lunch box. It sits in our communal refrigerator. Many of us are jealous, wishing we had too and once he was offered $100.00 for his lunch kit. Hang in there girl, there is a large group of us that will be wearing our Star Wars stuff to work tomorrow to support you. The Force is with you.

  • Hang in there Katie. I had a lazy eye when I was your age, too, and I hated my patch a lot. (Do they make you do exercises with your good eye covered? I bet I played a million games of Candyland with my mom with a red filter on my good eye.)

    But the good news is that it gets better. Now everybody just tells me how pretty my eyes are.

    Girl geeks are the best, and you're going to come out on top. Don't ever let anybody tell you any different. Sending you loads of love from Oklahoma.

    Vicki

  • Katie - I am a 36 year old mom of 3 kiddos. I love Star Wars...always have. My dad loves to tell my kids the stories about how when I was your age I used to sit at the end of my bed and pretend like I was flying the Milennium Falcon. I would set my teddy bears up beside me and pretend like the were Chewy and Han Solo. Now, my kids love Star Wars! My 7 year old son and 3 year old daughter chase each other around the house with their light sabers and sit at the end of their beds pretending to fly the Falcon. It sounds like you have some really cool parents who have done a great job of raising you. Don't ever be ashamed or embarressed of who you are or what you love. God made Katie just the way he wanted her! Sending lots of support from a Girl Geek in TYexas! "That's no moon, it's a space station" - Obiwan Kenobi

  • Hi Katie: Lots of love from southern Indiana. I thought your story was great - not the teasing - but just how people are supporting you.
    I was teased a lot in school, too, for not being "cool." I had glasses and short hair (in the 60s, you had to have long hair to be cool) and I was sort of different in the way I thought about things. The teasing hurt a lot and made me cry. But, I learned that I was an imaginative and creative person, and not everyone understood that. But some people do understand. I found I had to work hard to believe in who I was and not be upset by what people said. Once I started holding my head up high and being happy with who I was, I felt better, and some people treated me better.
    Now, I have long hair and glasses and work for a newspaper, and I have a girl, age 8, and a boy, age 6, both adopted. My daughter gets teased in school, too, sometimes, because she is Hispanic and there are not many Hispanic children in her school. We talk about it and figure out ways she can hold her head up high and be proud of who she is. One of her favorite books is "Stand Tall, Molly Lou Melon" by Patty Lovell, because it talks about a little girl in a new school who gets teased and how she handles it.
    I am so glad you are you, Katie, and not like everyone else.
    I think God has great dreams for you! Like a sci-fi warrior, swinging your light saber against the dark, you will help lots of people! :)

  • My boy Philip, adopted from Korea, is a kindergardener with a manic focus on steam trains. I point out the similarities of superheroes with Philip. Like Philip, most superheroes are adopted (e.g. Superman, Batman, Robin, Harry Potter, Spiderman), and although superpowerful, they get teased in their everyday lives. Superheroes cannot respond as they wish. So Philip take tae kwan do, and we point out that many of the coolest people in life stay true to who they are and do not change for others.

    Biggest geek I ever knew was a kid from college. His name was Sergey Brin. He invented Google. Every cool kid in college would do anything to be able to work for Sergey.

    I hope this young woman follows her inner compass, and recognizes that being a star wars fan AND being Jewish is just too cool for many normal kids to bear. She shouldnt blame them for being jealous, but she cannot let it get to her either.

    Rock on little sister. You are not alone...

  • Dear Katie,
    Your story has made my holiday! As an adopted girl, the child of teachers, a tomboy, proud geek, and a kid with horrible eyesight and strabismus, I hated getting picked on, too. And it was constant. Always, always remember that no matter how bad things might seem, you will always have your parents and friends - even those far away who've come to root for you through your Mom's blog - who have your back.

    And, by the way, dear - wear your patch. If you bail on it, you'll still have troubles years and years down the road. (::: as little_wittman looks around to see just /who/ that could be in reference to...:::). If I could do my life over, I'd wear my patch all the time - and play Candyland with my red filter, and draw pictures with my left hand while looking into a mirror, and all of those other things, just like my Mom and Dad tried to get me to do. (Thus ends your 'big sister' PSA.)

    Peace, love, and happy days, hon.

  • in my opinion i think a lot has been made of this whole story, with all due respect. bullying is going to be around whether we like it or not - in one form or another - because of our differences and the obvious trials of growing into a social structure, sense of belonging, individulaity, intelligence, etc.

    sensible people should educate their children that being "different" is good and through their love and nurture they can instil qualities in their children's character which will help them overcome peer pressure and criticism.

    making a big deal out of it and portraying this as a "victimization" of a child is just wrong and frankly leads to further segmentation of the social structure and less interaction between kids... even those classified as "bullies".

    in the US you have a long way to go not to paint everything as black/white...

    i don't know why everyone is sending this girl well wishes and support - she has a great family, good parents, stable home, looks to have a great childhood... i think there are kids out there with far greater problems... whether or not she got laughed at school for star wars or whether or not she is jewish will not scar her for life...

  • In reply to sodaboy:

    You know, your right, A big deal has been made of Katie, a kid who is like the rest of us. Who went through life, got teased and came out ok for it. And yes, there are kids who have it harder then she does, like my 3 nieces that no mater what we do, we can't get them out of foster care to live with relatives that love them because they are not related by blood simply by marriage.

    But here's the thing with Katie. Her mom reached out to the collective of star wars geeks around the world. She asked for us to share a word with her as an encouragement to be strong enough to withstand the bullying, and be simply who she is. Had someone done that for me when I was Katie's age, I may not have had the problems with social interaction and structure. I wouldn't have thought it was wrong to be a girl who liked Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles or playing in the dirt with Tonka trucks.

    It's not about Katie, But about reaching out about standing up and saying it's not ok to tease or bully. That's one thing about Star Wars Fans. You ask us. We respond. IN FORCE.

    Katies Story has reached so many platforms and because of that has brought light to different faces of teasing. Some kids don't always realize that they are teasing. I know my brothers have a hard time with the concept that just because they aren't pointing fingers and calling someone with glasses 4 eyes, they are teasing.

    For that alone. I share Katie's story with kids and adults alike. I love the expression on the 3rd grade boys faces when I start to teach sunday school for the first time each year. I wear star Wars shirts and cary Star Wars bags, I talk about my adventures in parades and doing charity work with two costuming groups I belong to. I'm an adult. I'm a girl. and I like Star Wars. I'm also the coolest sunday school teacher they have for a long time. And when teasing gets out of hand. I have a story to share with them that will hit home and bring it their level.

    so it's not about being a victim. It's not about segmentation of the social structure. It's about learning who we are. and having the courage to stand strong to that. If there were THOUSANDS of people world wide that had told you that what ever the other kids teased you about when you were a kid, Iit was ok to just be you, would you have been stronger and braver for it? Would you maybe have turned out a little bit differently?

    THAT is what this is about.

    ~K

  • In reply to sodaboy:

    Your story reached Germany by an article on spiegel online.
    May the Force be with you, young Katie

  • In reply to HerrHeiner:

    Ich danke Ihnen so viel, und viel Gl

  • In reply to HerrHeiner:

    Dear Katie, Dear Carrie,

    I am Oliver, a PhD student of 29 years, living in Germany and after I heard about your story on Spiegel and read your story (and some of the comments), I could not help it but providing one myself.

    During school, I have also been teased a lot for two reasons. Firstly, I have a 'cerebral palsy' that means my brain does not quite like my left half of the body and hence I limp when I walk. Secondly, when I was a bit older than your age I also had very long, blonde hair. So some kids would tease me for having 'girl's hair' and others would laugh at me because of my disability, imitating my walking or calling me a 'cripple'. I too wanted to stay at home some days and I asked my mom and dad to pleaaaaase let me cut off my hair, but they would not let me. "Oliver", they said, "that will not solve the problem and you are just running away from it. We know the things these kids say hurt and are mean, but trust us some stupid people will always find something to tease others about. Today it is your hair, tomorrow they will not like your trousers and so on and if you always try to avoid that you will never be yourself." It was hard to accept at first -maybe a bit like wearing an eye-patch- but eventually I managed to be proud of my hair. Also, my parents would always support me with my disability, but they would never let me wallow in self-pity and encouraged me to ignore people, who need someone to look down on and to cherish the people, who do not mind differences... and I guess over the years that's what I did.

    Today, I am a grown-up man and even tough some people still try to make fun of me, because I limp or enjoy crazy clothes, I do not mind it. I have learned that with enough support from family or friends and with a healthy bit of self-esteem (not too much of course), I can just be me. I don't need to fit into any pidgeon-hole and be 'a boy', 'a German' or 'a student', but I can choose to be boyish and studentish, when and how I want to. What is more, I can also choose to wear a pink hoodie, simply because I like the colour pink, and do not feel as if I am not allowed to wear 'girl's colours'.

    I am very happy that so many thousands have told you their story and that you can now pack your Star Wars bottle and say "I am Katie, I like Star Wars... that's nothing to be mocked for.". I hope, in years to come, when school gets different and people find other things to tease and mock, you will always be able to come back to this, feel proud of being different and look and act like you feel comfortable with.

    There may not always be facebook-pages, blogs and hundreds of nerds and geeks to rally for your support, but there will always be people who too are having a hard time and there will always be friends and -who knows- maybe one day we will be living in a world, where nobody is teased anymore.

    I hope you forgive me, if I am more of a Star Trek person and hence conclude my comment with a more suitable: Make it so! ;)

    P.S. I have seen your knitted Princess Leia hat and just in case you feel like having one of those in the future, I once learned to build one from a towel. If you are interested, I will try to figure out how I can share this with you so that you too can always have a cool 'Princess Leia'-towel-hat

  • In reply to HerrHeiner:

    Katie- I was picked on too when I was little for being a geek. I hated being different because I really couldnt help it. I loved football and ninja turtles. I had a rock and insect collection because I was so curious about what was in the soil, alleys and creeks after watching Ninja Turtles haha. I had glasses and didnt have many friends because I always wore football shirts. When I got to high school/college, I got contacts and blossomed into a beautiful young woman.... and now I am chemist. There will be a day when you see those people again and say "What? Im awesome!" because YOU ARE. You also have a wonderful supportive mother. Good luck on your life journeys and stay strong. Even at this age, I have to fight with boys but since I've stood my ground for so long-it has paid off. Trust me. Always be yourself. Girl Geeks are hotter than any other females!!! XOXO

  • In reply to HerrHeiner:

    To Katie,

    I am writing this because we have two things in common: we both love Star Wars and we are both adopted. I was adopted from South Korea when I was only a few months old. When I was younger, I was also a little different. I had difficulty speaking english properly. I was very embarrassed at the time but looking back I've realized one very important thing: you should always be proud of who you are and never be ashamed of what you like. There is nothing wrong with being different, not when we are all different. Soon, you will find friends, boys and girls, who will love the fact that you like Star Wars. They will like and accept you for whoever you choose to be.

    P.S. I saw your Star Wars water bottle, and it is awesome!

  • In reply to HerrHeiner:

    To Katie:

    You're receiving a lot of love from a lot of people, I wanted to throw down some hearts of my own.

    You'll be teased for a lot of things in your life, if not for the obvious, then for the subtle. People are like that, you'll never be perfect to them but as long as you feel perfect every day and you can get up in the morning and look at yourself and love what you see, that means that everyone else doesn't matter. You are the only person that's going to be around every single day of your life, thus your opinion will matter the most and should always matter the most to you.

    Also, you may be getting teased now, but let me tell you I was teased for a long time in grade school about video games and Star Wars, when you're in high school every guy that teased you will suddenly love you a whole lot more.

    But that's for another discussion.

  • In reply to sodaboy:

    Dear Katie!
    We are a family from Germany with five kids (and in a few days or weeks we have six!). All of them are named by famous jedi-knigts: Jaina, Jacen, Ben (in memory of Obi-Wan Kenobi...), Mara-Jade, Leia and surprise, surprise - Luke! Until now everybody likes the name we've given our kids and all of our kids like Star Wars (so we can talk with them about :-D).
    So please stay to be a fan of Star Wars and - may the force be with you !!!

  • In reply to myfishfamily:

    Danke und viel gluck! Carrie

  • In reply to sodaboy:

    Hey Katie,

    I'm Erik,and I'm in eighth grade. I was never a girl so I can't say I know how you feel, but i do know how the boys feel. Their probably just jealous of you! I mean look at how many female Jedi there are! I was only in public school until fourth grade then I became home-schooled, so far i have enjoyed it. If the bullying get's to bad home-schooling is a good way to get away from it. Sorry for taking so long to get to the point. Anyway here's my story, two years ago I went as a Jedi for Halloween. I wanted my costume to be so authentic, that I grew a Jedi braid. I still have that braid, and though I have had at lest twenty people offer to cut it, some more instant then others, I am proud to wear it. Keep strong and remember your special and no madder what people say you are you!

    Erik

  • In reply to sodaboy:

    Dear Katie,
    I am a little late to the game, as I only heard about your story today when a friend of mine linked me to the CNN coverage of your story. When I read that you were teased for bringing a Star Wars bottle to school, my heart sank. But then, reading about the response that you received from people worldwide warmed my heart. I'm originally from Toronto, Canada, and I now live in Jerusalem, Israel with my wife and our twin 21-month old daughters. As a huge geek myself, and as a Star Wars fan, I'm so happy that you got the response that you did.

    As a father of young girls who will some day go to school, I find myself worrying an a lot about them being bullied - especially since it's something that happened to me when I was your age. I remember how tough it was, and how much time I spent unhappy. Your story has a beautiful and happy turn of events. It is inspiring, and I hope to be able to pass on to my daughters what you have experienced over the last month.

    Know that there are always other people out there just like you who love you, even if they've never met you. We live in an age where people all over the world can come together for a common cause through the Internet - and in certain cases, can change each others' lives for the better.

    May The Force Be With You!

    Dear Carrie,
    This is probably the most inspiring thing I've seen online since I first logged on back in 1995. From one parent to another, thank you.

  • In reply to sodaboy:

    Dear Katie,
    Hello. I am Creatureboy11. I only watch Star Wars when I am bored, but great job for staying strong (with the help of your mother)! I hope that everyone who helped will be life-long friends. - Creatureboy11

  • what happened to your daughter is not "bullying"... stop making this bigger then it needs to be.

    when i was 6 years old i was held up for my lunch by a group of gypsy boys who cut my cheek with a knife and left me with a nice scar... my parents didn't go around writing stories about how their son was bullied for being small and timid - they told me there are different people out in the world and that some boys (like the gypsies that attacked me) might come from troubled homes and they don't know any better... we need to focus our attention at better education, standard of living, etc...

    i just think that by being over analytical and discussing things to such tiny details doesn't do anything productive - and actually just diverts focus from important issues... so we no longer concentrate on severe bullying... but every little petty children's argument...

    sorry for the double post but it just frustrates me when people with no problems in their lives make headlines as if they are being victimized...

  • Sodaboy -

    1) Who are you to say being picked on wouldn't scar Katie for life? By suggesting we ignore her, you're essentially backing the bullies.
    2) "This isn't bullying because... this happened when I was younger.. my mom..." Etc. etc..
    This screams jealousy, which is absolutely pathetic. I'm terribly sorry to hear about your misfortune with gypsie boys but, quite frankly, this isn't about you.
    3) Bullying isn't defined with physical contact alone. End of discussion.
    4) Apology for double posting is hereby rejected. Bullies aren't welcomed here. (See no. 1)

  • Sodaboy -

    Teasing that isn't addressed among the 6 year olds becomes tormenting among the 9 year olds. The constant tormenting among the 9 year olds becomes the idle threats among the 12 year olds. The idle threats among the 12 year olds become the acted-on threats among the 15 year olds.

    I teach. And I watch the 6 year old be told she's "not cool" and that she can't play with the "cool kids" on the playground. And I watch it crush her. Then I watch her when she's 9, and teased because she has unruly curly hair and it sticks up everywhere, and I find her crying in the bathroom, because now it's not OK to cry because she's been told to "just deal with it" and "be tough." THEN I watch her when she's 12 and now it's being told she's ugly or not dressing trendy enough or that she's a geek or a dork, and I watch her struggle to change to fit in and see the spark leave her eyes because she is no longer herself. Then I hear about her when she's 15 and attempts suicide because by this point, she's been convinced she is not cool, she's ugly, she isn't dressing right and she's a dork. And no matter how hard to tries to be cool, feel pretty, dress right and be popular, she never feels right because she is not being herself - but she can't tell anyone, because she needs to "get over it" and "be tough" and she's told "It won't matter when you get older" But it sure matters now...and sometimes, we lose her when she's 15. And SOMETIMES, there's someone who comes along side her and helps her to see that there are others like her. And slowly she realizes that it's ok to be HER, crazy hair, different style, "geek" interests, and all.

    And we wish Katie well because some of us have BEEN Katie. Or we watch "Katie's" every day, and understand where it goes. And we know that knowing there's someone out there (Other than mom and dad, who you think only say it because they HAVE to tell you it's ok) like you can keep that 6 year old from turning into the 15 year old who feels like there is no reason to live.

    So, Sodaboy, you are wrong. The teasing IS a big deal. Because that is 6-year-old bullying. And unaddressed, it goes so much further.

    May the Force be with you, Katie. I'll be teaching in my Star Wars gear tomorrow (we're doing morning message with a light saber pointer!) and giving a Star Wars toy in your honor to the GIRLS TOYS bin at our local toy drive.

  • Dear Katie:

    While I am a male, I know what it is like to be picked on and made fun of for being a geek or a nerd that loves Star Wars. I grew up with Star Wars and can remember vividly when my mom and dad took me to see Return of the Jedi two times because I loved it so much. I'm now 33 and I can still remember the excitement and magic of that movie. It is a memory I will always cherish. Eventually, the bullying stopped and I grew up to have a successful career (so far) as a lawyer. I just wanted to let you know the bullying will stop, and you will do wonderful things while you continue to follow your hopes and dreams. Never be ashamed of who your are or your love of Star Wars. It is not a "boy" or "girl" thing. Star Wars is for everyone; girls, boys, moms, dads, uncles, aunts, teachers, doctors, and even lawyers, like me.

    The Force will be with you, Katie, ALWAYS.

    Very Truly Yours,
    Ryan

  • Dear Katie,
    I hope this letter reaches you. I'm 24 yrs old and a very big sci-fi geek. I read your story on CNN and HAD to write to you. Like everyone else and you as well I was picked on and teased for being different (very tall and scrawny) and for LOVING SCI-FI. Heck even as I write this I'm watching season one of Battlestar Galactica which is MY favorite. (When you get older you have to check that show out) Anyways I'm a 24 yr old adult I STILL get teased for being...well ME!! But you know what? I don't let it get to me. Because being who I am is what makes ME happy!! Thats the most important thing to remember. When I was a kid at your age I wanted to work at Jurassic Park!! But found out that it was all just a movie. So I became VERY interested in making movies!! And so thats the path I chose. Stay true to what you love, fight for it. Never back down! Don't give into the "darkside". Yes you are different, I am different, and so is everyone else in the world. DIFFERENT is AWESOME!! Normal is boring! You know who also wears an eye patch? Pirates!! And Pirates Freaking ROCK!! You rock! Stay strong girl I know you will, put a smile on that beautiful face and as always... May the force be with you!! We geeks take care of our own, we got your back!!

    Sincerely yours,
    Justin N.
    Your fellow Indiana/California GEEK!! :-)

  • Katie, I hope you're feeling better soon! I wrote about you and your mom in my blog yesterday (December 9th -- it's already after midnight here), and today my husband and I will be wearing Star Wars shirts in honor of you.

    I'm blind in one eye and sometimes wear an eyepatch, and I always feel funny when I put it on too. I have a couple other physical problems as well. But it's okay, because we're special just the way we are. I grew up watching the TV show of a nice man named Mr. Rogers who told me that every day, and you know what? He was right.

    You stay strong, sweetheart. May the Force be with you and your family!

    Laura Klotz
    Pennsylvania
    http://good-idea-time.blogspot.com

  • Hi Katie and family!

    I moved 14 times as a kid. I have no lasting friendships prior to high school. I was always the new kid and experienced a few nasty incidents in my young life. I loved rock bands (Van Halen, Cheap Trick) when other girls were getting into Grease. I begged for a guitar when other girls were going to dance. And I absolutely, without a doubt LOVED!!!!!! Star Wars. I tried to conform but I was stuck with ME. I now try and educate my young (5yr) daughter about being true to herself because it seems to start at a very young age - the fear of others that are different to you, stereotypes, boys vs girls, etc. I have posted this on my facebook page. Now I am living in the UK (an American in the UK - talk about being different to everybody else!!) and I think I might have to wear Princess Leia hair today. Why not??? Thank you Katie (and mommy!) for sharing your story. - Kris (BTW - I never stopped playing guitar!! I am a singer/songwriter and a specialist clown doctor for children in hospital - talk about doing something different and non-conformist with your life! ; )

  • That's a wonderfull ending to this story, what is even more awesome, is that it's only the beginning of many more fantastic stories as Katie' adventure will certainly inspire others around your country and most likely the world ;)

    The princess leia hat is awesome BTW ! I could use one right now because it's freezing in Paris ! Well maybe not it's a girls hat isn't it ?

    No wait... :D :)

    Keep up the fun, you guys are truly inspiring people !

  • Katie,

    I am also a girl geek. There are many, many of us out here pulling for you. I'm glad you feel better about being yourself. We geeks (secretly) rule the world, so hang in there kiddo. Don't let anyone get you down!!

    <3

    Cate

  • Hi Katie!!!

    After reading your story I see we have so much in common, as I'm sure you're finding out there's a LOT of people that have gone through the same thing you are going through right now. I got my first pair of glasses when I was only 1yr old. I still wear glasses today and LOVE them, they're apart of who I am and they're super cute. I wore a patch over my lazy eye for a long time (and had to have surgery on my bad eye several times when I was older). I was made fun of a lot in school for being different, and am a huge Star Wars fan. Plus we're both Katies, but I spell my name with a C instead :D Even though I had to go through a lot of pain and tears when I was younger, it made me the person I am today. And so for that I wouldn't take back anything that happened to me. I hope you see what a strong, amazing, super cool person you are! And just realize the people bully others do it because they are the ones not comfortable with themselves. Be true to yourself and never compromise!!!

    ~I hope you have a beautiful day!
    Catie

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