By James McCrae
Source: The Mind Unleashed
“Be yourself; everyone else is already taken.” – Oscar Wilde
High school was hard. Not so much the classes. The classes, at least at my high school, were a breeze. The hard part about high school was navigating the social cliques and doing anything possible, including great leaps of effort and imagination, to not, under any circumstances, do or say anything that would constitute the tragic and unshakable label of being weird. I did my best to look like everyone else, and everyone else did their best to look like me. We were all hiding – with each other and from each other.
Being insecure in high school I can understand. Everyone is still growing into themselves and trying to map out their coordinates on the spectrum of social relationships. High schoolers are allowed to be nervous wrecks, afraid that their own shadow will make fun of them if they trip and fall. But after high school, when we transition into adults, shouldn’t this need for approval go away? My high school years are long gone but everywhere I look the social pressure to conform to the standards and expectations of others remains. Adults too are afraid of looking weird. Should we be?
Throughout history, the great creators and innovators were those who were not afraid to stand out from the crowd and risk being different. The truth is, everyone is different. This should be celebrated, not hidden. Allowing yourself to be weird is good because it means you have stopped judging yourself. And when you stop judging yourself you will stop judging others. And when you stop judging others they will stop judging you. But first you can’t be afraid to be different. You can’t be afraid to be weird.
It’s okay to be weird. Here’s why.
1. There is no such thing as normal.
Everyone is weird and therefore nobody is weird. Personality exists on a spectrum. Some people are loud, others are quiet. Some people are creative, others are analytical. There is no right or wrong way to be. There is no normal; there is only natural. What is natural to me may not be natural to you. Don’t worry about being normal. Find your natural.
2. What you think is weird is really your super power.
We all have traits that make us different. The truth is that what makes you different is secretly your superpower. If it seems weird, you just haven’t learned how to harness the power yet. Instead of hiding what makes you weird, learn how to use it. When you master your quirks you will find power within them.
3. What makes you weird makes you memorable.
Being normal leads to mediocre results. Nobody pays money to see what is expected. People pay money to see things that are unexpected and captivating. What makes you weird makes you interesting because you have something others do not. People won’t remember the thing you did that everybody does. But they will remember the thing you did that only you can do.
4. The world needs more authenticity.
People are hungry for authenticity and realness. Your weirdness is in high demand because it is true. When you start living as your true self – weirdness and all – you are giving those around you permission to do the same. We all want to be real. But we’re afraid to be the first one. Your honesty and truth have great value to others. We may not say it out loud, but we want you to be honest. We want you to be weird.
5. All great art was made by weird people.
Every great creative achievement – whether in music, art, science or business – was, by definition, different, and required a new way of thinking. This is the creative benefit of being weird. Embracing your weirdness gives you a new perspective. Innovation does not happen within the status quo. Innovation happens when outsiders challenge the status quo with weird ideas.
6. Resisting your weirdness makes you dark.
When we freely express ourselves – even our quirks – we feel better. There will always be people who do not understand or appreciate our differences, but that’s okay. But when we hide our unique characteristics and resist our natural weirdness, we don’t feel good. Our personality becomes dark. Just as a black hole results from the absence of a star, so does the rejection of our inner light result in a dark and inverted projection of self. Your weirdness is part of you. It’s okay to let it shine.
7. Standing out is how you find your tribe.
Many people follow crowds because they don’t want to be lonely. But standing out will not make you lonely. When you break away from the crowd you will find others like you. This is your tribe. Most people never find their tribe because they are afraid of letting go of what is known. But when you embrace your weirdness and stand up for what you believe in, you will find those who have stood up before you, and you will serve as inspiration for those who will stand up next.
8. Every new idea is weird at first.
Even the best ideas, when they are first introduced, seem weird. A new idea is like a biological mutation. At first it doesn’t make sense. But eventually the biological mutation finds a purpose. Ideas are the evolution that pushes society forward. When Henry Ford introduced the world’s first automobile, it seemed weird and unnecessary. “If I had asked people what they wanted, they would have said faster horses,” he said. Instead, Ford took a risk on an unpopular idea. It seemed weird at the time, but who could question him now?
9. If you hide your truth you might regret it.
Nobody looks back on life and thinks, “I wish I had tried harder to be like everyone else.” But if you spend your life trying to be like others, instead of being the best version of yourself, chances are you will look back with regret and think, “I wish I had lived without fear of being judged or misunderstood.” In the end, living your truth is all that matters.
10. When you own who you are the world will conform.
There is power in self-perception. If you see yourself as capable, others will see you as capable. If you see yourself as incapable, others will see you as incapable. When you own your weirdness and claim it as a strength, nobody can judge you. The choice is yours. Would you rather bend your focus to fit the world around you, or bend the world around you with the power of your focus?
“When she transformed into a butterfly, the caterpillars spoke not of her beauty, but of her weirdness. They wanted her to change back into what she always had been. But she had wings.” – Dean Jackson