Okkervil River’s Will Sheff: I wish someone had told a nerdy teen that someday being smart would be cool!
The single piece of advice that would have made my life easier: One day, being smart would be an asset.
All of these things that made me a spazz, or a dork, or a nerd, or a weirdo, or a reject, or a pariah in the eyes of a very small town group of little kids -- being smart and enthusiastic, being nerdy about stuff I liked, geeking out on things and putting a lot of energy into them -- would all be something somebody would find worth paying money for someday. It could be attractive and lucrative and appealing.
The word "nerd" is such a funny word, and at the time it was really damning. In the early '80s, "nerd" was a damning word in a small town. I hated that I had glasses and all this stuff.
It wasn’t until college that I realized that being smart was a personally attractive quality. I thought of it as a liability. I spent a lot of my time, at different phases in my childhood, trying to pretend I was a fucking moron. That’s the single most important thing that would have given me confidence: If somebody had said, “All these things that people give you such a hard time for, eventually people are going to like.”