In Praise of Being a Weirdo

I wish I’d been weirder. No, really…

Reading that, you might be thinking – particularly if we’ve known each other for some time now – “Don’t worry, Ol, you’ve been nothing but a weirdo ever since we met.” And to that I would say “thank you.” But I can’t help feeling like I could have done more.

To be clear, I’m not talking about weirdness for weirdness’ sake. That’s a real thing, and I’ve most certainly been guilty of that from time to time. The world doesn’t need any more of that, for that’s just as phoney as normal for normal’s sake. No, what I’m talking about is those times when I feel something very true inside me, and I go full steam ahead with it no matter how much it might set me apart from the crowd. Those are the greatest moments of my life.

You see, the more you dare to express that which is unique about you – and the more unique that thing is – the more you risk showing yourself to be unlike the “average” person. And to almost everybody on the planet, the fear of not belonging to that crowd of the “average” is so great that it’s enough to keep them shtum their entire lives.

There’s just one problem with that: if you want to do anything of any worth in this world, you are at some point going to have to break away from the crowd. If you have a dream and you set out to make it a reality, you will encounter obstacles. And since most people give up on their dreams at the first minor inconvenience – if they even set out in the first place – then merely by facing these obstacles, you are by definition a weirdo.

It’s too much for most people to stomach to be thought of as “different.” This is why the vast majority don’t even try. It boils down to the way you see the world.

People don’t like it when the view of the world they’ve become comfortable with is challenged. And when you express what is unique about yourself, you threaten that view. Remember: THIS HAS NOTHING TO DO WITH YOU. I cannot stress that enough. If something you do happens to trigger somebody else and remind them that they are not living the way they should be as they should, they won’t thank you. They’ll see you as a threat and an enemy and they’ll call you a weirdo.

What they hope is that you will hear “you’re a weirdo” as a sign to crawl back down into the bucket with them and all the other crabs. That you’re doing something you shouldn’t be. That you’ve gone too far and you need to rein it in. That the point of life is to conform and go along with the herd and to stop thinking you’re so damn special.

And guess what? You are as free as Friday to do just that. Or the exact opposite – here’s what they don’t want you to hear “you’re weird” as:

As a sign that you’re right – that there is something better outside the bucket. That you’re onto something. That you’re living with courage. That you’re making your dreams more important than their egos. That the point of life is to share your gifts with the world.

I hope you can see that the problem is not that you’re a weirdo, or even that people are pointing it out. The problem is how you’re hearing it. Take it as insult and it will destroy you. Take it as what it is – the highest form of compliment – and it will be the fuel that takes you to the highest point of heaven.

“To be yourself in a world that is constantly trying to make you something else is the greatest accomplishment.”

Ralph Waldo Emerson

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