A short story about how choosing to be weird in front of strangers turned into a powerful act of self-love.

On Friday, Jamie and I went for a walk in the middle of the night. We’d been waiting all day for the rain to end, and it finally let up well after midnight. By that time, cabin fever had already hit me hard.

One of the common side effects of being self-employed is an intimate relationship with staying indoors much too long, much too frequently (especially in temperate climates). So even before we got outside, I was already (literally) hopping up and down like a dog eager to go for her walk, eager to get that sat-down-too-long feeling out of my legs. When my body wants to move, it communicates. Loudly.

When we got outside, I got wild. As Jamie walked calmly and—though I usually hesitate to use this word, it definitely applies here —normally, I looked like I’d just taken an entire package of caffeine pills.

I alternated between running semi-on-the-spot, doing high knees, jumping with both my feet forward, and skipping. It felt fantastic, and I was only partially aware of how silly I must have looked, just enjoying the energy I was creating under my skin.

I think it helped that Jamie just continued to speak with me as if I wasn’t doing any of these things—neither praising nor judging them—simply allowing me to do whatever I wanted to do and being comfortable with my strange moods and behaviours, accepting me fully as usual.

After dragging him up a hill and back, we walked (well, he walked, I skipped) towards a more populated area of town. That’s when I saw them.

The blurry outlines of, gasp, people.

Suddenly, I became aware of just how ridiculous I looked, skipping like a child beside this totally cool, calm man with his hands in his pockets. But I didn’t stop.

I listened to my thoughts as I kept skipping closer and closer to the silhouette of three young boys.

My mind said, “But you look so stupid, what if they judge you? What if, after you walk by, they talk about how strange and awkward and weird you are? What if they call you crazy?”

I listened, calmly, and after the thoughts started to circle back on themselves, having clearly exhausted all of their original ideas (as thoughts will often do), I made my case.

“Well,” I said to myself in my head, “Yes, they might judge me. They might think I’m weird and crazy. But, maybe one of them has always wanted to skip in the street. Maybe one of them does skip in the street when no one is looking and, when he sees people, he switches to walking. Maybe he walks down the street singing, and maybe he stops when he gets into the coffee shop or the grocery store because god forbid he enjoy himself around other people. Maybe, just maybe, one of these guys is a great, big weirdo, just like me, and he spends his life hiding that from people.

Maybe he really needs me to be weird. Maybe he needs me to keep skipping, just so he can skip too.

And you know what? Inspiring that one person to just come right out and do what s/he wants to do is a thousand, million, billion times more important and valuable than avoiding the real or imaginary judgment of complete strangers. So, yes, I’m weird. And I might get judged for that. And it’s also my responsibility to the other weirdos of the world to be my weird self. Loudly.”

And that was that.

My thoughts had no good argument.

And so, we walked/skipped by what turned out to be three teenage boys on their bikes, who were staring forlornly at the bar across the street where of-age people were gathered smoking cigarettes. They asked us “What’s good?” and even moved off the sidewalk so we could pass.

And who knows, maybe, after I’d skipped by, they looked after me and said, “Wow, I want whatever she’s on.” Or maybe they said, “What a f*#$in’ weirdo!” Or maybe they said, “Do you think they have weed?” or, even more likely, nothing, because why should I be so important that each of my behaviours warrants a verbal or mental comment from a bunch of strangers?

But maybe, just maybe, one of those kids or one of the people outside of that bar, knew exactly what I was up to and exactly why it was so hard for me. Maybe I changed a life back there. Maybe I didn’t. I’ll never know that, but I will tell you one thing I do know—it’s better to live your life being your great, big, weirdo self, never knowing whom you’ve inspired, never receiving any gratitude or praise from anyone, than to live your life being afraid of other people’s judgment, even if they shower you with approval.

I’d even go a step further to say that it’s better to be criticized for being really weird than be adored for fitting into every cultural paradigm you’ve had thrown at you.

And I don’t mean intellectually, logically, better. It just, literally, feels better. It feels like self-respect. It feels like there’s an inner wisdom that withholds happiness from you until you’ve done what it tells you to do, and when you’ve satisfied its bidding, it rewards you with feelings so much more powerful and lasting than approval that it makes people-pleasing seem like a chore. It gives you love. You give yourself love. Real, universal, beautiful love.

So I hope that, next time you’re walking in the street singing to yourself, and you see people coming up, you keep on singing.

Don’t deprive that person, who might just be as scared as you are of being seen, of the opportunity to be inspired by your courage.

And next time you’re around people, and you’re wondering whether they’ll think you’re weird, fretting about what to say and not to say, you take a moment and tell yourself: “Yes, I’m weird. And it’s my responsibility to the other weirdos of the world to be my weird self. Loudly”

And let that be that.

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Thank you for reading! Please feel free to share using the buttons below and leave me a comment to let me know what you think, you big weirdo, you.

The Importance of Being Weird

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Comments (16)

  • November 10, 2014 at 12:44 am
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    Good for you. I have found that when I have acted “weird” in the past, it usually put a smile on someone’s face. They would make some remark to me about how much fun I was having and when I see someone skipping down the street it puts a smile on my face. You are absolutely right that it might help someone else be “silly” too. And besides, you’re not weird…you are just a breath of fresh air Vironika.

    Reply
    • November 10, 2014 at 11:34 am
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      That’s beautiful, Sheila. That makes me happy to hear. If acting like a weirdo is all it takes to put smiles on people’s faces, I think I’ve got a natural talent 😉 Thanks for stopping by, my friend.

      Reply
  • November 10, 2014 at 5:26 am
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    Vironika, love it. I like abnormal, out of the box views like yours. Great post

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    • November 10, 2014 at 11:35 am
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      Thank you, Matsepo. I like kind words like yours 😉

      Reply
  • November 11, 2014 at 3:16 pm
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    Thank you for taking a stand for being an audacious expression of just how you are in this now moment. In any now moment.

    As one who walks around town sporting purple/blue/magenta hair — in my 60s! — I am used to reactions. Smiles, comments, all kinds of things. I love the interactions.

    Blessed be!
    Sue

    Reply
    • November 11, 2014 at 4:44 pm
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      Let your colours fly, Sue! Thank you for being a great big weirdo that inspires so many people in the world. So much love to you.

      Reply
  • November 12, 2014 at 2:49 am
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    “it’s better to be criticized for being really weird than be adored for fitting into every cultural paradigm that you’ve had thrown at you.” absolutely, vironika. i’ve been called “weird” my entire life. when i was younger, it stung a bit. but now i see it as a compliment to embrace, a confirmation that i am indeed uniquely different and interesting. and people gravitate TO me, not away. thank you for sharing your wonderful story.

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    • November 12, 2014 at 1:54 pm
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      Yes! I know just what you mean, April. Once we accept those “strange” desires and inclinations in ourselves, “weird” becomes normal, and we begin to attract others who wouldn’t think of calling us weird, because they remind us of ourselves. It is like Robin Williams said – we are lonelier with people who misunderstand us than we are alone.

      Reply
  • November 18, 2014 at 12:10 pm
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    Hi Veronika

    I agree with you that the mind is so quick to keep us within our comfort zone. I understand your way of dealing with the mind’s useless chatter by responding to it with logical counter arguments. My question to you is do you think that this quiets the mind in any way in the long term, and what are your ideas about just witnessing these frantic thoughts without having to respond? And is it that you choose your battles and have a mix of both methods? I’d really like to hear your views on that.

    Reply
    • November 18, 2014 at 12:25 pm
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      That’s a good question, Omar. I do use a mix of both methods. I do have my toxic thinking identified and have a self-awareness filter in place. When my mind begins to spew what I consider to be the useless, same old stuff, I’ll just watch those thoughts and remember that I am not them. I’ll be grateful that I don’t believe them anymore.

      Other times, especially when my mind’s response is very sudden or very strong, I speak to it directly. I think both of these methods have one thing in common – they encourage conversation between me and my mind. One way, I just listen, compassionately, the same way I’d listen to a baby having a tantrum, taking nothing personally and feeling full of gratitude. The other way, I am having a conversation, still, but I am actively responding to my mind. I tend to picture my mind as a real person and, when I do that, it’s obvious when I should respond and when I shouldn’t (just like it’s obvious to a parent when to comfort their child with words and when to just be there). It’s all about building that relationship – allowing the mind to have a function, to have its own talents and strong suits, but to respond to a different authority. To do that, I must be a loving authority to my mind.

      Here is my most important lesson: the key is to commit to understanding ourselves and healing our minds, not to any specific act, ritual, or performance. Thus, we can change our methods, but keep to our purpose.

      I hope that is helpful, Omar. I appreciate your asking such wise questions. You are sure to get good answers, not just from others, but from yourself as well.

      Reply
  • November 19, 2014 at 11:24 am
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    Hi Vironika,

    Absolutely adore this article. I resonate a lot with the outdoor/indoor being an online biz owner. Thanks for the reminder to own our worth and simply just be!

    Love and abundance,
    Yiye

    Reply
    • November 19, 2014 at 1:35 pm
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      You are welcome! Thank you for stopping by, Yiye 🙂

      Reply
  • December 5, 2014 at 6:11 am
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    You are so right – for every critic, there is someone inspired by your courage. I think even the critic is holding back somewhere in their life as well and projects it on to people doing something.

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    • December 5, 2014 at 4:13 pm
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      Yes, very true. The harshest critics, especially of art and creation, are ones that are too afraid to step into their own purpose, their own power. Criticism, of ourselves and others, is a stalling tactic. When we are too busy changing ourselves and changing the world, who has time to criticize? 😉

      Reply
  • February 8, 2015 at 12:00 pm
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    This might sound radical but I’m going to say it anyway. Being weird in some cases makes you trustworthy. I think we would assume the exact opposite: that being weird makes people hesitant. But in many situations, when people see that you’re weird they also see that you’re being authentic and truthful and honest. I learned this collaborating with many different teams at work. I’m definitely a nonconformist; and weird. By now, people expect me to have a certain energy and to approach them much differently than a lot of their other coworkers. They also know that they’re going to get a high level of respect and honesty when we dialogue. There’s no greater compliment in the workplace then when someone comes to you for service or for answers, and they know that you’re going to give of yourself in that moment whatever you can to help. I’ve had the pleasure and opportunity of being in that position many times over, and I know that my weirdness hasn’t scared anybody off at all, as a matter of fact it’s had the exact opposite effect. People trust me. People expect something from me at a deeper level. Something that they may not expect from others. Be it truth, service, honesty or an attentive ear – they are going to get it. Being weird shows confidence and it inspires people to share their own weird. As such, I know which coworker has a secret collection of hot sauce in their top drawer and which coworker is a comedian on the weekends. I also know which coworker made over $100k in horse betting last year and which coworker has a balloon phobia. When you share your own uniqueness people feel safe to be unique too. Which to me is love and beauty all over. So, I too feel free to skip and smile and ride my shopping cart all the way down the lot. Yep I’m that girl. Ha!

    Waiting patiently for a new post , 😉

    Reply
    • February 8, 2015 at 3:28 pm
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      I just love everything about your reply, Sofia. I’m with you 100%. So happy that you exist and that you’re out there being authentic and inspiring people just by existing!! 🙂

      New post will come as soon as I get my internet situation figured out here. I’m in a new town in Costa Rica and my internet is not good enough for many of the things I need to do (i.e. Skype calls for sessions, uploading videos, etc.) After that, I’m all yours!

      Reply

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