Don Jones

Tech | Career | Musings

Do you self-identify as a “nerd?” Many of us in the IT industry do. Are you single? E.g., not in a long-term relationship at the moment? Or perhaps you know someone who fits that description – if so, please ask them to read this. Or if you were perhaps a recently single nerd, this’ll still feel familiar to you.

I’ve a couple of friends in this “single nerd” life situation, and they deal with life issues that I, frankly, haven’t faced in years (at best). So I’d like to know, from you, what sorts of life issues you find yourself dealing with all the time, both successfully and unsuccessfully. Please drop a comment below.

To get you started, some of what they’ve brought up (and these aren’t mean to be cast as “unsolvable,” but they are things they deal with):

  • “I get home at night and there’s nothing in the fridge. I’ve tried the box meal programs, but they’re always portioned for two.”
  • “I have a tough time meeting people outside work. I don’t love to socialize, and bars aren’t my scene. Dating apps suck.”
  • “I honestly hate the way I dress at work. It feels boring, but I don’t really know where the boundaries are on ‘business casual’ so I just wear khakis and black polo shirts.”
  • “I’m uncomfortable about women at work. I don’t want to make them uncomfortable, but I never know what to say in, like, the break room. I’m probably creepy.”
  • “I eat crap for lunch. It’s hard to eat out every day and not eat crap.”
  • “All I do is work all day and go home and play games. It’s fine, but I feel like there’s more in life I could do.”

Granted, some of those are a little simplistic, but that’s because I’ve boiled a few down just to make concise examples; they’re really complex emotional issues, often without a simple answer, and I get that. This isn’t a quest for answers, per se. 

Anyway… simple or complex, if you’re a self-identified single nerd, what bugs you about life? What do you wish you had happening that you don’t? What’re some things you wish you didn’t have to deal with, or that you wish you could deal with better?

I have my list, but it was a long time ago, so it’s probably a little misty. I do want my friends, though, to see some shared struggles, and maybe know that they’re not alone in what they’re dealing with. I’m not asking you to post solutions (although please, feel free if you’ve got ’em), just the stuff you deal with as a “single nerd.”

Thanks for any input you can offer!

Categories: Life

4 thoughts on “Are You a Single Nerd? Or Know One?

  1. DD says:

    One of the things I found frustrating while single was how to use my vacation time. On top of that, vacation packages are usually priced on double occupancy, meaning it was always more expensive to travel alone.

    Dressing isn’t just singles problem, I’m married and in my early 40’s and it’s tough to find an appropriate style outside of work that doesn’t break the bank, or make me look like a grownup teenager.

    When I was single I joined a local volleyball league that held games after work hours, they even held tryouts and assigned you to appropriate level teams. There’s also always room to follow your passions, like the local astronomy clubs, dance classes, drumming classes, language classes, cooking classes, etc. All great places to meet and socialize due to mutual interests, and easy to invite followup meets for dinner/coffee without it getting so formal and weird.

  2. My advice is simple, fake it till you make it and always swing for the fences. Those two rules can be broken down in an even easier way:

    Step 1: Know you’re awesome
    Step 2: Be awesome

    Knowing you’re awesome comes first, because you’ll never be awesome until you know that you are.

    I decided long ago that I have no interest in splitting my 401k for a year or two of “fun.”Truthfully, being single is great for me because I come from a huge family, and I’m the only one that doesn’t have kids – so I enjoy being the “cool uncle,” spoiling the crap out of my nieces and nephews and then sending them home.

    I’m completely comfortable with my decision, and I still date occasionally but I don’t go “seeking” companionship. With that said, I don’t struggle dating either – I can date pretty easily if and when I want to. I’m a humorous extrovert who is generally considered “the life of the party,” so meeting people isn’t hard, it’s just gotten old.

    It sounds to me like your friends need to figure out how to like themselves before they ever worrying about anyone else. If you aren’t confident in yourself, any relationship you’d enter into during that state of mind would be doomed to fail before it ever began. Being in enterprise IT for 20+ years I imagine the stereotypes forming in my head about your friends are probably pretty accurate.

    We all know socially awkward introverts with low self confidence who when you get to know them are truly brilliant, and great people – but you just can’t ever get them to come out of their shells socially. But once you get them engaged with a subject they have complete confidence in, you generally can’t get them to shut up. To me this proves that all of the “right stuff” is there, they just don’t know how to channel it into something outside of their comfort zone.

    In the past, I’ve told many a “nice guys” and “bad luck Brians”to take the confidence and arrogance that they have in their technical abilities and put just as much into their social abilities… or at the very least they should “fake it till they make it.” We’ve all been there, jumping head first into a major technical outage, issue or problem way above our pay grade and skill range, but we do so because:

    – We are confident in our skills (even the introverts),
    – We love the thrill of being in over our heads and the adrenaline rush that comes with it
    – We have an inherent thirst for knowledge that drives us to continually push the envelope in regards to our technical skill levels
    – We want bragging rights and war stories to share with our fellow geeks

    When I break it down like that to these “nerds,” they usually begin to understand. You can have faux confidence in your social life just as much as you do in your professional life when in over your head. At the end of the day, if you approach someone and they turn you down, what did you lose? The shame from those encounters are self-inflicted. If all else fails, travel far away from home, experience new places and take your chances there, where no chance of ridicule may follow.

    In the end, it is a simple solution to a problem that’s only complex in our minds. Suck it up, and swing for the fences… and if you strike out, remember Ray Schalk is in the baseball hall of fame with a career batting average of just .253.

  3. Some of these hit home, as I’m 31 Single Nerd. I live about 30 miles north of work and my commute home from work is about an 1 hour 15 – 30 minutes and when I get home from work Dinner is an challenge. These are what has work well for me in the past, and I still deal with these same issues on an day-to-day bases. Some days are better then others I find having an routine helps.

    So questions: “I get home at night and there’s nothing in the fridge. I’ve tried the box meal programs, but they’re always portioned for two.”

    Answer: I’ll spend the extra on the Pre-Packaged Individual Frozen Chicken Breast, rise and throw it in an pan and season. Pro Tip get an meat thermometer and never second guess if the meat is done. I’ll season it with Salt + Pepper and it’s not terrible. Remember we aren’t trying to make an 4 course meal just something other then Drive Thru Meals as if your like me you are just cooking for yourself. I’ll grab frozen veggies and generally cooked enough for either lunch/Leftovers for the next day. Now day’s H-E-B, Target, Walmart all have some type of Delivery or Order Pick up for Groceries, I haven’t used them, but give it an try.

    “I have a tough time meeting people outside work. I don’t love to socialize, and bars aren’t my scene. Dating apps suck.”

    Answer: For me Joining an Group Gym/Workout Class helped this, as Facebook Ad’s got me and I signed up but didn’t commit till I got an actual Text from one of the Trainers. I’ve made a couple adult friends as this gym isn’t for the Super Fit. However I understand that isn’t always the case, and most importantly this got out of my comfort zone. and the added exercise will do wonders for the rest as I find I feel better.

    “I honestly hate the way I dress at work. It feels boring, but I don’t really know where the boundaries are on ‘business casual’ so I just wear khakis and black polo shirts.”

    Answer: So change it, if your unsure of the policy/acceptable asked your HR Department. However Business Casual means a lot of different things to folks.

    “I’m uncomfortable about women at work. I don’t want to make them uncomfortable, but I never know what to say in, like, the break room. I’m probably creepy.”

    Answer: Talk about the weather, the traffic, small talk topics. Or ask what they been working on, what are there plans for the upcoming holidays. No one at work is going to find you creepy unless your the guy staring at them not saying anything.

    “I eat crap for lunch. It’s hard to eat out every day and not eat crap.”

    Answer: I’m assuming no one is forcing you to go out to lunch everyday. I do the Walk around the neighbor behind my work (45 minutes) and do Protein Power/Drinks is my go to as I don’t usually feel hungry/eat a lot during lunch and like the quick and easy option. Tuna packets are also an option or the prepackaged meals at your local grocery store.

    “All I do is work all day and go home and play games. It’s fine, but I feel like there’s more in life I could do.”

    Answer: There’s ton more to do then that. For example there’s an app called Meetup if your looking at expanding skill-sets, or finding an group to play some board games with.

    If anyone wants suggestions for meals/meetup groups and/or someone to vent to hit me up @Jeffery_Hayes on twitter.

  4. Monte says:

    One of the biggest things I struggle with is being able to relate to co-workers who all have families and kids. Most conversations during lunch are about their families and kids or what they’re doing with their families and kids over the weekend. and I’m over here like “Nope, just gonna go home and play games and work on that next learning goal”. I will say, however, that the flip side of that is that I never had to confer with another human or make decisions based on the fact that I have a small human to take care of. All of my decisions and the outcomes and consequences of them are my own. I’ve been single for over two years now and I’ve really come to appreciate the freedom that being single has afforded me.

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