An Open Letter to the 2011 Spellers

Love Conquers Some
I've gotten lucky: my morning has been fairly un-busy, so I've got the Bee streaming in the background as I type this. 

Dear Spellers,

You kids are so weird. You reference your favorite books instead of your favorite American Idol contestants, you belong to chess and Scrabble leagues, you win all the competitions with the word "math" in their title. You write novels and poetry and music. Three of you referenced pi in your biographies. The sports you play aren't necessarily "get out of weird free" cards--you're still bizarre.

Never, never, never stop being weird. It's a big part of why you're wonderful. Take this from a former weird kid--it keeps being awesome. There will probably be pockets non-awesome in the next few years--every high school has its kids (and sometimes teachers) who will be threatened by how awesome you are, and they might try to stand in your way--they may tell you to tone it down, to stop showing off, to at least try to be normal for a while. Do not listen to them for one single minute. You'll get through it, you'll go to college and meet more weird, awesome people, you'll graduate and get a job at a place that is chock-full of brilliant, awesome nerds and weirdos. In the meantime, keep surrounding yourself with friends who are like you--to this day, my oldest friends (and my husband) are people I met when I was eleven years old and attending an academic summer camp for gifted students. We kept in touch online through middle school and high school, and convened in Atlanta for college (Georgia Tech for them, Agnes Scott College for me). Now we all work at software companies, surrounded by other former math-team captains and youth-symphony presidents, and we hang out and have fun and love each other to pieces. I wouldn't trade it for the world.

(And yes, a few of you are actually pretty cool by non-nerd standards--you're friends with pretty much everybody, because everybody wants to be your friend. Cool! I can't offer advice on how to be a popular teenager, but I will say this: if you keep challenging yourself and working towards smart-people goals, then in twenty years, you can be The Person In Charge of pretty much whatever you want.)

I've said it before on this blog, but I can't say it enough: I love that you spellers have embraced your love of language and words in particular and of learning in general, and I admire the hard work you've put into preparing for the Bee. Regardless of how this year's Bee goes, know this: you haven't peaked. For every one of you spelling today, and for every one of you who prepared for this Bee and spelled earlier this week, or in regional spelling bees, and even for tonight's winner? The best days are still coming.

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