Celebrate Your Weird

The other day my son said to me that he no longer knew what to tell people when they ask him what his mom does. “I just shrug and say, ‘Everything,’” he told me. This may not be strictly accurate, but it isn’t far off the mark.

I have degrees in three different subjects, took graduate classes in two additional programs, and am working on a fourth. I also am certified in hypnotherapy and Theophostic Counseling. I crochet, paint, do chalk pastels, collage, make masks, make jewelry, do calligraphy and photography.  I sing, dance, choreograph, act, direct, and do technical work in theatre. I have, at times in my life, played the trombone, the guitar, the Celtic lap harp, and the bodhran. I’ve been in a rock band and sung the Messiah. I have written music, written poetry, written novels and short stories, and I’m now working on a play. I have been a stay-at-home mom, as well as working as a reporter, a secretary, a house-cleaner, and a college professor.

My interests change from month to month, and year to year. I develop a deep interest in owls, or birdwatching, or types of trees. I want to know all about Japanese culture one year, then I’m full of curiosity about the cultures of Africa the next.  I study each awhile until my curiosity is satisfied, and then I move on. I have a hard time explaining to people why their gift of a book about Japan that would have excited me last year is not so exciting now.

All of this mystifies most of the people who know me. Yet, it also makes me uniquely qualified to talk about being weird. That’s right—I am weird and proud. Most people spend a lifetime trying to fit in. They want others to accept them, so instead of being who they are, they become who they think others want them to be.

My observation is that many people do not change much. Their interests remain the same, and one can count on them talking about the same subjects now that they talked about 5 years ago. This isn’t really a problem, except the fact that most of these interests aren’t really theirs. They like A football team because it’s local, and everyone else they know likes it. They like the religion they were raised in, they like the state they were raised in, and they prefer the styles that everyone else they know is wearing. However, all of these things have nothing to do with personal tastes. Instead, they are all about what others have trained us to believe that we like.

I, on the other hand, do not care what other people like. I like what I like. I strongly encourage you to do the same. After all, the most successful people in the world, are all unique individuals. Instead of trying to please others, they go out and create something completely new, because they are not thinking about the taste of others– only their own.

Don’t let anyone else tell you that your idea is stupid. There have been a lot of crazy crazy ideas out there that have made people a lot of money. Just to name a few, the Blue Man Group, the rock band queen, upcycling, and many more. Think about it, just picture it, the guys who formed who went home and said to their families guess what? We’re going to paint ourselves blue, and bang on lots of different things. Doesn’t that sound like the path to career success? I’m sure their families thought they were crazy. Yet they became wildly successful doing something that was, let’s face it, weird.

What about the Cirque du Soleil? That’s pretty weird if you think about it. After all, it’s people dressing up in rather outrageous costumes, singing songs to people who cannot understand them, and weaving together bits and pieces of world culture into a storyline that includes circus acts. Pretty weird. Yet also, age huge success. I hope you’re seeing by now that when I say something is weird I actually mean it’s wonderful. Because weird is wonderful.

Some other examples of weird, David Bowie, The Muppets, stomp, and creating a Broadway play that uses top it’s puppets. Yes indeed, these are all pretty weird. Yet these things have also brought joy and fun to millions, as well as making millions for their creators.

So why should your idea be any different? There is no such thing as 2 weird to be successful period as a matter of fact, weird seems to be a pretty good indicator of success. Back when I was in high school, if anyone would have said that people dressing up in costumes like superheroes from the comic books and getting together at large convention centers to talk about superheroes would become big, I don’t think anyone would have believed them. In fact, they probably would have laughed uproariously at the idea . Yet, here we are today with Comic Con and other conventions of the same type happening almost every day somewhere in the world.

So why not listen to your heart? Why not think of the most fun and outrageous idea that you can and do something with it? The absolute worst thing that can happen is that you have a lot of fun doing something you enjoy. The best thing that can happen is that other people who feel like you do will join in and share with you in the enjoyment. That sounds pretty cool to me. No one ever got to be successful by playing it safe.

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