Weird is a strange word. It means something unusual from what we’re familiar with. That means there are an infinite number of kinds of weird. It also means one person’s weird could be another person’s “normal”. I don’t think we need to use weird as a negative term, either. It’s a (subjective) descriptor that indicates our unfamiliarity with something or someone. I think we should celebrate weirdness and take back the word.
I’m weird in a whole lot of ways. I do things like dress up as a 90’s Troll doll and hang out on a bridge, making people dance with me before they pass. I have Synesthesia and can see auras. I’m terrified of insects but feel completely safe in an alley after midnight. I have a bunch of disorders on my psychiatric face sheet.
These things are weird because plenty of other people have never had these experiences or have the exact opposite one(s). As humans, we can have empathy but it’s truly difficult to understand what someone else is going through unless you’ve experienced it firsthand.
For example, when I worked at the psychiatric rehab center, lots of my coworkers were there because they were interested in psychology after having grown up with a family member who had suffered from a mental illness. They understood the symptoms, stigma, and struggle better than someone who was completely removed from the situation, but they hadn’t experienced it firsthand. That’s the difference.
That’s why I can have empathy for someone who is a racial minority and the prejudice and discrimination they’ve experienced, but I can’t truly understand it because it hasn’t happened to me. I can advocate for these issues because I find them important, but that doesn’t mean I really “get it”. It’s always different when things happen to you.
Not experiencing something firsthand doesn’t mean we should turn our backs to it in active ignorance. I know racism is wrong and just because I’ve never experienced it doesn’t mean I won’t fight for equality the same way my coworkers who don’t have a diagnosis on their Axis I will continue to advocate for mental health in politics and fight against stigma because they know it’s an important issue.
My point is weird is all over the place. Weird is the way we dress, the way we speak, the way our body looks. Weird is how our brain works, what our preferences are, and how we live. Weird is absolutely everything. Any quality about yourself is likely weird to someone somewhere.
Some things might hit closer to home as being weird because you’ve been made fun of about them. I was bullied and teased growing up for my facial and vocal tics that are a part of my Tourette’s Syndrome. There are famous pop culture pieces about Tourette’s that are actively making fun of the condition that causes distress in so many. You might feel more sensitive about your skin disorder than the color of your hair, you might be more likely to say your weirdness is the fact that you live on the farm over what high school you went to. It’s all weird. We’re all weird.
Being weird is awesome because without differences life would obviously be dull, but it’s more than that. So much of our lives we’re pressured to “fit in” which is especially prevalent in school years, making many kids’ experiences with school an unpleasant one– feeling like an outcast. Fitting in is boring, and you’re so much more than boring. Not to mention if you’re constantly supressing your inner weird and trying to be more like what you think everyone else is, you’ll likely start to feel symptoms of depressions, anxiety, etc.
The world needs more interesting, unique, and authentic people. If you appear to be “fitting in” you’re probably lying or omitting something on some level. If you’re truly authentic and honest with others, they’ll find your weirdness no problem. The world needs more authenticity! Share your weirdness so others can identify with you and feel less alone.
Not only will you feel less alone and make others feel less alone, but you’ll be able to find people to interact with that totally get where you’re coming from. Fitting in is boring, but going your whole life feeling misunderstood can be lonely. Attract your tribe and figure out the best ways to celebrate your weirdness together. There’s always power in numbers.
I think it’s important to not only embrace our inner weirdness, but to celebrate it. Actually, I think by embracing our weirdness we are celebrating it, but there’s always an extra step you can take in that celebratory stage.
Here are five ways you can embrace your inner weird:
- Don’t lie about your weirdness. If someone notices something or asks about it, tell them the truth. Lying to others about your weirdness is the same thing as lying to yourself. When asked if you ____, say, “Yes!” with pride.
- More than being honest, educate people. Knowledge is power, and it might not give another person that firsthand experience we talked about, but they’ll be more familiar with the issue than before which will make them more likely to educate others in the future. Give them cold, hard facts that are indisputable. They might not agree, they still might not “get it”, but they’ll have information to back up or conflict with their views.
- Share your weirdness online. The internet is an amazing tool to share anything and everything because it reaches so many people. Sure, there will be “haters”, but you’ll help other people so much in the process. Harnaam Kaur is a woman with a beard, a side effect of a disorder Polycystic Ovary Syndrom (PCOS). She posts selfies to her Instagram all the time. It makes some people uncomfortable enough to send her terribly mean messages, but it is also slowly retracting the stigma and making the internet more used to seeing a woman with a beard. The more used to something we are, the less judgmental we tend to be.
- Share your weirdness in public. The internet might not be your thing, but maybe taking things to the streets is. Go out in public without “hiding” your weirdness, whatever that may be. Great stares with smiles and friendliness. Answer any questions, no matter how ignorant they are. We’re all ignorant until educated.
- Create art about your weirdness. Write a story, screenplay, or poem. Make a painting, sculpture, or zine. Do some performance art, take some photos, shoot a video. Create art that celebrates your weirdness. By doing this, you’re likely also checking off all the four other suggestions I just gave you.
So you’re weird. I’m weird. We’re all weird. Let’s stop judging each other for whatever weirdness we were gifted with (our super powers), and start celebrating each other for them.
Question for you in the comments: What’s (at least one of) your weirdness?