I spent my childhood running away from this term.
I spent the first year of college trying to be considered cool, suppressing my nerdiness, since I was starting clean in a place where nobody knew me, and I was miserable. I had more fun when I hung out with people who I had more in common with, who happened to be the smart people, aka the nerds.
I want the term to be embraced. It is ok, no - it is cool, to be a nerd, excel in school, and use your brain. The U.S. doesn't have enough smart people. People only use the term in an offensive manner because they know it bothers you. It took some time, but I am no longer offended when someone calls me a nerd. I think that it means they think that I am smart and know how to use my brain. I wish more people used their brains.
In short, I use the term nerd as part of my identity. My family is also a part of my identity, luckily they are nerds too. I do not mean for nerd to be derogatory or offensive. If you are offended, substitute in SMART instead, but I will not cease from using the term "nerd". Being a nerd is a compliment.