One of the best things that can happen when you read a book is a sort of mind melding with the author or narrative voice of a book. Finding a book that very closely mirrors your own neural wavelengths creates a very delicious sort of mind melding experience that helps you validate yourself and feel like you have a friend you never realized you had before. This doesn’t happen to me a whole lot, but I was lucky enough to have it happen to me recently with Felicia Day’s book You’re Never Weird on the Internet (Almost).
Felicia Day is an actress, writer and producer who has a very comfy niche in the nerdy part of the entertainment industry. The Youtube channel Geek and Sundry showcases a whole lot of her online work, and definitely gives you a good taste of her geeky gamer flavor. I was relatively familiar with her as a fun and nerdy internet personality whose videos and tweets I enjoy, so I naturally planned to read her book. If my worship of Tina Fey’s Bossypants in a previous post didn’t make it obvious enough, I’m generally a sucker for the “quirky comedic gal writes her memoir” genre.
Day’s book definitely did not disappoint. I read the thing in just over one day, and found an unlikely mind-meld buddy. I always knew Felicia was just a tad more hardcore on the geek/nerd scale than I could ever be, but reading her book revealed that she led quite an unusual life, one I could never dream of myself. She was home schooled for most of her life, technically has no GED, but went to college at 16 years old and graduated with two degrees, one in Math and the other in Music. Compared to her, I’m finishing up my one degree in English at the miserly old age of 21. Oh wait, I’ll be 22 by the time I graduate so, yeah. Great. I haven’t even talked about her start as an actress-writer-producer extraordinaire in Hollywood and online yet. I’m having flash backs to my Mary Shelley entrance from last week. What’s with all these young female masters I keep writing about? It’s almost like I’m trying to give myself a complex.
Actually, though, speaking of complexes, that’s the key to how I connected so deeply with this book. As much as I wondered at the unique path of Felicia’s life, I also marveled at how much we had in common on an emotional level, an emotional level of the crippling-anxiety variety. Felicia covers the many unending bouts of severe anxiety throughout her life fairly openly in the book, and in those pieces I found someone very much like myself. I too worked myself into a deadly frenzy of helpless anxiety over grades,work, social acceptance, self confidence, etc. I still do, I suppose. Ever since I was five or six years old and had a horrifying realization of my own mortality one summer at the local swimming pool (a true story that surprisingly does not involve me drowning or anything,) I’ve struggled with accepting myself, with using the energy my anxiety gives me to work hard at succeeding.
That anxious energy can quickly turn into a sour, self-esteem zapping bile if you are not careful, or even if you are anyway. Anxiety does love to feed off of that need for careful perfection. I know this from experience. I’m sure plenty other people do too, but hearing Felicia Day discuss her messy, self destructive habits of self-doubt and control-freakery with plenty of earnestness and a healthy dash of humor makes me feel much better than simply knowing that anxiety issues are a relatively common problem. If I could recommend this book for one reason and one reason only, it would be so other people could feel that connection.
Felicia’s coy little nerd face stares at me from the book cover as I struggle to find the perfect way to wrap up this post. I gently smush/pet my hand on her face, assuring that we’ll both be alright. She’ll get through her stuff, I’ll get through mine. Sure, you’ll definitely love this book if you’re even a tiny bit into video games, the internet, fantasy or other classic nerd fodder. Even better though, than all her stories about gaming over early dial-up internet and exploring the early wilderness of Youtube stardom, is that chance to look a fellow nerd and human being in the face, a face that only comes out when they find the strength to write about themselves and their lives very intimately and find acceptance. Your’e weird and broken. She’s weird and broken. I’m weird and broken, and it all feels so much better to say that when you know it doesn’t make you a weird little broken outlier. If you can even be weird on the internet, that is. Cheers, Felicia!