Being a lifelong nerd has its downsides. First and foremost is that you’re the target of a lot of bullying of various styles. Most of it dealt with ostracism and name-calling, but I had my physical altercations and had more than a few pranks pulled on me over the years. It all sucked, of course, but every now and then, things didn’t go quite the way people expected.

John Green Nerds Like Us Quote

When I was a teen, the church I was a member of had a sort of coed camp called Youth Conference. A week of service, spiritual observance, and fun. I enjoyed them, but when you put a dozen teenage boys in a room together, there is almost always someone who decides to take advantage of the situation.

The night before the dance, there was always a dance, one of my family; that’s how the youth are organized: into ‘families’ with two Parent counselors and brothers and sisters; decided to prank a few of the boys. I was one of them.

The prank was simple enough: layer a glob of face glitter in the hair and face of some of the sleeping boys. I was the lucky one, one of the guys got the gel in his eye, I just had to wash my hair.

Of course, the glitter didn’t come out.

So I spent a day self-conscious as hell. I felt like everyone noticed, and felt like everyone was laughing. When it sent the others I slept with into that state, what else was I to think?

Come the dance, all dressed up (Shirt and tie for the boys, dresses and skirts for the girls), I got to join my friends. That was fun, and as usual, I got pushed into a number of dances because I was the shy one. In the church dances, it was really common to talk to your dance partner. Just about things. And the glitter came up more than once. I knew it would, too.

But the response was the opposite of what I’d expected. Some partners just hated that some jerk would try to be mean like that at a church event. Others thought it was cute. It’s neat when an attempt to destroy self-esteem ends up giving it a boost.

Have you ever had something embarrassing turn around and boost your confidence? Tell your story in the comments!