Are you weird?
As I write this, I am sitting in a 1950’s dressing gown with a fur collar and cuffs, listening to hip-hop on BBC 6 Music. Later on I will do some yoga, see a person who wants to talk to me about how to live, then watch some sort of subtitled indie film or uninhibited comedian on Netflix, maybe eating crisps and dip for dinner. Is this normal? My grandmother would’ve thought it deeply odd (apart from the dressing gown, which could be hers, cycled through vintage shops till coming back to me).
I’m not married and I don’t have kids. I don’t have a proper job. I’m middle-aged, but I don’t dress soberly or have entirely respectable friends or put a lot of thought into life insurance. Some people have made it clear to me that I am strange, irresponsible or out of order. I have been called ‘edgy’, ‘freaky’, ‘unusual’ and ‘a free spirit’. Because weirdness is relative, I can see how, to some witnesses, I am weird. But they are only comparing me to themselves, or to the person they think they are. They’ve probably never asked themselves the question:
Am I weird?
I bet you have some funny characteristics that are incompatible with social norms, something you do/have that draws attention to you. Perhaps something you can’t help like a lisp or a big mole in the shape of Italy. Maybe it’s deliberate, but ‘out there’, like a tattoo on your neck, or a penchant for day-glo tights. Perhaps your weirdness is in your lifestyle? An obsession with photographing hedges, filling your home with tottering piles of books in lieu of IKEA furniture, a love of skate-boarding (aged 50)? Do you have a personality that makes you one of these:
- an activist
- a stargazer
- a picky eater
- a wanderer
- a naturist
- a wallflower
- a loud giggler
- an eccentric?
Maybe sometimes you just feel weird as in out of step, an outsider? Feeling odd makes you question your identity and can be uncomfortable. In my experience of teaching teenagers, I have discovered that all of them feel like misfits: they are consciously trying to discover their identities for the first time, which is unsettling, even terrifying. As adults too, it’s common to be concerned about how we fit into our immediate communities of family, friends and colleagues, or wider communities of town, nation or the world. All humans have an inbuilt need to position ourselves in relation to others. Some of us have a tendency to take attention, some of us crave anonymity. But we all run the risk of seeming weird. You might then ask:
Am I too weird?
If you’re not even noticing you’re weird, you’re fine. If you think you’re weird and the thought makes you smile, no problem. But if you’re suffering anxiety about being weird, you might need to connect with another human being and come clean. Weirdness can be celebrated and enjoyed once you transform your negative perception of it and become comfortable in your own skin.
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About Alison Goldie
Alison Goldie is a professional coach, an actor, theatre director and facilitator, and the author of The Improv Book: Improvisation for Theatre, Comedy, Education and Life (Oberon Books). She has numerous enthusiasms including eating fancy food, dancing like Isadora Duncan and Turkish Baths. See www.alisongoldiecoach.com for more.