After I started reading on daily basis I figured things about myself. I was nine or ten at the time and you were nerd if you read a lot. So that I was. I continued reading as I loved it and didn't care at that age how others saw me.
Later on I started to feel bit left out at school but with books I was never feeling like I was alone. I could dive into a book and then feel better. Reading really helped me though the hardest parts of my youth (ages 13-15). I lost a friend I had trusted and I was feeling out of place but thanks to the books and the words in them I knew I was going to be fine.
With books I never got the feeling that I was there all alone and it was OK to be bookworm. It was OK to be me.
And now that has come out stronger, I dare to tell people how I love reading and I am a book nerd, but so what? So are millions of others too. I love reading and that's what matters the most.
I always got the same reaction- "nerd". Now, I'll introduce myself, "Hi, I'm Hadley, and I'm a nerd, so if you call me that it has no effect on me!" I agree with you; why should it affect us when it's what we are? I found books to be the same way for me; the shelter and the refuge in troubled times. You got this!
Being called a nerd was always an insult or resulted in a side-eye. But as we aged, we found a way to embrace being called a nerd and just shrugging it off.
Since reading became the foundation of who we are and it made us stronger.
And finally, thank you for sharing your story. One that resonates with all of us. Continue being the amazing bookworm you are!