“Why are you so weird?” As a kid, that question made me cringe. What was wrong with me? Why was I such a weirdo? Why couldn’t I just be normal? So, I tried normal, and I was bored out of my mind.
For 2 years in Junior High, I attempted to assimilate, tried to act cool and mimic the behavior of my fellow classmates yearning to be noticed while acting "normal" like everyone else. By the end, I was exhausted. It took so much effort to keep this charade and persona alive that I just gave up.
So I embraced my weird. Loss the clothes, the act, and put my nerdy glasses back on, spoke in strange voices, incorporated bad movie lines in conversation, and just had fun. Thus, the question came up again.
“Why are you so weird?”
Now hearing this felt like a badge of honor. My response was “Why would I want to be normal? Being weird is so much more fun.”
The modern word "weird" comes from the ancestral term "wyrd," which literally means "that which has become." Roughly speaking, weird translates to what are you evolving into, what are you becoming.
This makes sense because as you embrace your wyrd, you unearth so much:
- You recognize your own intuition
- You discover your own voice
- You begin to claim who you are and gain an understanding of who you want to be
Leaving Your Comfortable Confines To Find Your Weird
A majority of society asks you to remain normal. To comply with the rules, regulations, and cultural norms that have been arbitrarily assigned. An example of this is the suburbs. There are fascinating, complex, unique individuals that live in suburban enclaves. But because of how the suburbs are structured and the expectation that you will abide by the social norms of that particular neighborhood, differences are not openly celebrated. Walk down any standard suburban neighborhood and you’ll notice that the houses are similar, people’s routines are similar, even the way people interact are the same. If you were to setup a slip n’ slide in your driveway, park your car on your front lawn, build a bonfire in your backyard, or paint your house as a full rainbow, you would be ostracized. Why? Those “out of the suburban box” tendencies might reduce the property value of that neighborhood and question the normal decisions of everyone else that lives there.
Even if some people appreciate your “quirkiness”, collectively, you and your actions are deemed “out of place.” Code for you don’t belong here. The reason some people flee the comfortable confines of the suburbs for the city is so that they can find weirdos similar to them, as eccentricities are more tolerated, as everyone is more comfortable revealing their strange.
Society Doesn’t Celebrate Your Weird...Until They Do
It’s interesting that on the one hand, society as a whole supports the notion of being normal, yet it celebrates people who embrace their weird - musicians, writers, YouTubers, artists, even athletes. The weirder, the better.
Throughout the entire journey of that now famous individual embracing their wyrd, society attempted to dissuade them from embracing who they are and pursuing such ambitious, crazy goals. Asking questions like “why are you pursuing that pipe dream? Why do you need to act that way? How come you can’t pursue a normal job like (fill in the blank of the normal ideal role model)?
Some may argue that tribalism plays a huge role in not claiming who you are. If you subscribe to a particular social group and everyone has similar values, beliefs, and expectations of what it is to live a normal life, for you to embody your wyrd you would need to leave this community. That may mean having to move out of a certain neighborhood, breaking off ties with life-long friends, and possibly being ostracized by people that you love. What if you don't have a place to go or the means to simply walk away? Many do not, so they instead understandably assimilate, squelching the parts of themselves that are most unique in order to fit in. The world never gets to benefit from them becoming their true self simply because they feel forced to play small.
On the flip side, since the emergence of YouTube, Facebook, and other social media platforms in the last 15 years, a certain type of weird is being celebrated more, even commodified. What's ironic is in this social media world, expressing an aspect of your weird is now seen as normal. Now there is pressure to turn your weird idiosyncrasies into something that can be sold.
Parts of your weird are not only celebrated, but it is a normal expectation for you to share who you are all the time, thus turning your identify into a commodity and self-expression into a job. You don’t exist if you are sharing.
For me, on days when I don’t feel like I can create my own content, I find myself scrambling to find inspirational quotes to supplement my content.
What is ironic is that by approaching my weird in a normal way, I see myself losing what makes me so wyrd. I’m preventing myself from becoming.
The comedian, Bo Burnham, described what it is like growing up in this new world where social media plays such a role in our lives. “Social media - it's just the market's answer to a generation that demanded to perform, so the market said, here - perform. Perform everything to each other, all the time, for no reason. It's prison - it’s horrific...I know very little about anything. But what I do know is that if you can live your life without an audience, you should do it.”
How Do You Embrace Your Wyrd Wholeheartedly?
So, how do you embrace your weird authentically without losing yourself trying to express it.
Here are the ways I've played to to reveal my wyrd:
When you were a kid, your boredom became an opportunity for you to create some of your greatest play ideas. Why not try it again? For a certain period of time remove forms of media consumption (I.e. TV, YouTube, Social Media, etc.) and just sit with your thoughts. If nothing comes up, move with your thoughts and just see what comes up. Your wyrd will begin to appear and it will begin to tell you what it wants to do. Follow that voice and see what you create.
Challenge Normal & Express Your Weird Your Way
Follow the Tania Katan approach and do what compels you, especially when "society" tries to dissuade you from doing it.
Identify how and when your weird shows up.
I was compelled to flip a table recently and that brought out so many other weird ideas by simply breaking the normal vibe that surrounded me.
Once you figure out when your wyrd shows up, create the atmosphere for it to thrive.
Surround yourself with people that spark your weird.
I schedule at least 1 - 2 weird talks each week with my fellow weirdos.
I believe we were put on this earth to be wyrd. The world needs you to embrace your weird as inspiration for others to do the same. You must do it in your own way, on your own timeline, in whatever form you believe represents you. To do anything less is to play small and to let normal win.