On Being Awesome, and the Importance of Community

If you’ve ever seen the phrase “DFTBA” floating around the internet, you may have wondered what it means. “DFTBA” is an initialism that stands for “Don’t Forget to Be Awesome.” I heard it for the first time when I started watching the VlogBrothers on YouTube almost a year ago today.

Back in September of 2011, I was feeling far from awesome. I was going through a painful breakup, I was struggling through my first semester of graduate school, and I was having a lot of trouble with my memoir. I found myself completely creatively blocked and stuck for the first time in my life.

But as I made my way through the archive of Vlogbrother videos, I felt a sense of comfort and connection with these two nerdy brothers who proudly shared their nerdy lives with the world. I also discovered that there was a huge community of people who watched their videos and connected with them as strongly as I did (we call ourselves Nerdfighters). It amazed me that this community of quirky, unique, nerdy people all found each other through a series of videos on the internet. I started going to Nerdfighter meetups in the L.A. area and attended the Tour de Nerdfighting show in Santa Monica back in February.

Still, what continues to amaze me most about the Nerdfighter community is our catchphrase, “Don’t Forget to Be Awesome.” It’s so simple, yet so powerful, because it’s just so easy to not feel awesome. I know I didn’t feel awesome last year, and there are certainly days I don’t feel awesome now. And if you don’t feel awesome, it’s easy to forget to be awesome.

To me, being awesome means being yourself and being proud of who you are. It means embracing the things that make us unique, the things that make us different, the things that make us nerdy. And the positive, awesome energy I felt watching the VlogBrother videos online and meeting up with people in real life helped me get through my slump last year.

When it comes down to it, it’s all about community. Without community, it’s difficult to tune into the awesome parts of ourselves that, on our own, we might think are strange or weird. But when we see others being proud to be different, proud to be dorky or awkward or nerdy, it’s a lot easier to be proud of those things too.

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28 replies to “On Being Awesome, and the Importance of Community”

  1. Emma Burcart says:

    I’ve never heard of the DFTBA before, but it sounds like a great idea. I’m up for anything that focuses on the positive! 🙂

    1. Alana says:Author

      Thanks for the comment, Emma! Focusing on the positive is good. I’m trying to do that more often.

  2. “To me, being awesome means being yourself and being proud of who you are. It means embracing the things that make us unique, the things that make us different, the things that make us nerdy.”

    Beautifully said Alana! Welcome back to the blogging world! We so missed you! You have a genuine voice and heart that jumps right off the page!

    “Don’t Forget To Be Awesome!” Well okay, I won’t. But don’t you either Alana. I’ll be checking on you to make sure you keep your awesomeness going around here! 🙂

    1. Alana says:Author

      Aww, thank you, Karen! Your support means a lot to me!

  3. Alana, welcome back! I love the DFTBA acronym. I hadn’t heard of it before reading your post. I’m so sorry you had such a rough time, but how AWESOME that you found a group that made you feel awesome. And now, you’re spreading the awesomesauce around. Great job!

    1. Alana says:Author

      Thanks, Lynette! The WANA group is, of course, another place I’ve found community. I’ll definitely be writing about it in a future post.

  4. There’s a lot to be said for being yourself and being proud of who you are! That’s a lesson that took me a while to learn, so consider yourself ahead of the game! Love the new look for the blog too. Good work and welcome back!

    1. Alana says:Author

      Thank you, Jennette! Happy to be back.

  5. Wonderful post, Alana. We all need “don’t forget to be awesome” imprinted on our brains so we’re reminded of it constantly because, you know, we are pretty awesome! 🙂

    1. Alana says:Author

      Yes, we are awesome! It’s such a great catchphrase. Thanks for the comment, Sheila! 😀

  6. Debra Eve says:

    The site looks great, Alana! “Follow your weird” is my favorite saying, by sci fi author Bruce Sterling.

    1. Alana says:Author

      Thanks, Debra! That’s a great saying too.

  7. I’d never heard the acronym DFTBA before, but I love it, and this was a great post. I hid my nerdy side for a lot of years because I felt like I must be wrong and everyone else must be right. It was only once I realized there was no wrong and right but simply different and unique that I could be comfortable being me. And like you, I found a group of people who thought I was awesome just as I am 🙂

    Welcome back to blogging and DFTBA 🙂

    1. Alana says:Author

      Thank you, Marcy! It really helps to find those groups and communities where you can connect with people like you. The internet makes that a lot easier. Plus, being nerdy is actually sort of in right now, and I do wonder if some of that has to do with how popular the Vlogbrothers are.

      I appreciate you stopping by, and DFTBA! 😀

  8. Diane Capri says:

    Alana, this is great! I love that line from Kung Fu Panda where Po says, “No extra charge for awesomeness!” Great plan – and DFTBA!

    1. Alana says:Author

      Thanks, Diane! DFTBA 😀

  9. Glad you reclaimed your power, Alana. Thanks for pointing me toward the VlogBrothers and reminding me I’m awesome at heart. Welcome back to blogging.

    1. Alana says:Author

      Thank you, Pat! Glad you’re going to check out the VlogBrothers. They’re awesome.

  10. Fabio Bueno says:

    DFTBA for sure! I’m a rookie nerdfighter. I’ve been to the amazing book tour John Green and his brother put together here in Seattle.
    Lovely new site, Alana! Welcome back! 🙂

    1. Alana says:Author

      The tour was amazing, wasn’t it? Did you read “The Fault in Our Stars”? It was definitely worth the hype, in my opinion.

      Thank you, and DFTBA! 😀

  11. Love DFTBA (and John Green!). And I so agree that TFIOS is worth all the hype. 🙂 Great positive post Alana!

    1. Alana says:Author

      Thanks, Coleen!

  12. Welcome back, baby! I love DFTBA and I agree with Karen that being “awesome” means being yourself, and remembering that you are a person of value. But doing it in a way that is considerate of everyone else’s worth and awesomeness. Then you get awesomesauce, which generates waves of awesomeness. Just like you!

    1. Alana says:Author

      Thank you, Rachel! That’s a great point too. Being respectful of other people’s differences and awesomeness is really important. I think you’re awesome too! 😀

  13. Debra Kristi says:

    Love this! I hadn’t heard the acronym but have heard a few people say it. It’s great to keep the mood uplifted. Love the new look and glad to have you back.

    1. Alana says:Author

      Thank you, Debra! I love how simple and positive it is without sounding forced or “self-help” like. DFTBA!

  14. Community really is invaluable, Alana. So is, as you pointed out, authenticity. I love the way being and celebrating our unique selves and interests draws together the BEST communities, online and elsewhere. Love the look of your blog, by the way! AWESOME indeed. 😉

    1. Alana says:Author

      Thanks, August!

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