Accepting The Weird In You – A Writers Must #1000speak

Accepting the weird in you - a writers must

Weird, weirdo, strange, unusual, abnormal, not normal, odd, freaky, eccentric, all words I’ve been called over the years. But why? Why have we (society) corrupted the words weird and inserted negative meanings into them? I don’t know about anyone else but I wasn’t party to the memo telling me the ‘Normal Police’ had been legislated and were arresting anyone who showed even a hint of stepping over the accepted line. I know humans are conformists, but really?

Conformity as described by simply psychology is:

‘Conformity is a type of social influence involving a change in belief or behavior in order to fit in with a group. This change is in response to real (involving the physical presence of others) or imagined (involving the pressure of social norms / expectations) group pressure.’

I’ve tried conformity, didn’t like it. Tasted funny, a mix of bitter sourness, self depreciation and depression. Conformity is dangerous. Humans are wired to want to fit. To belong, and that means we absent mindedly accept the presumed authority of those that present themselves as authoritative. Ever heard of the Stanely Milgram experiment? He made himself look authoritative by wearing a scientific lab coat, and used particular commanding phrases like:

  1. Please continue.
  2. The experiment requires that you continue.
  3. It is absolutely essential that you continue.
  4. You have no other choice, you must go on.

Which forced experimentees to continue to give electric shocks to people who got answers to questions wrong – even when the shock levels read XXX. In the first set of experiments 65% continued to shock all the way to 450 volts (the XXX button). Milligram himself summarised his experiment as ‘The Perils of Obedience’.

Just think about that – because we would rather submit ourselves to the judgement of a presumed authority we would give someone electric shocks to the point of death. If we would do that then it’s not even remotely surprising we have conditioned society to view ‘weird’ as bad. There are other psychological experiments showing similar results – Asch’s line experiment where a group of participants were primed to give wrong answers about the length of lines, and the one participant who was blind to their reasons for giving wrong answers would give the same wrong answer as the rest of them – instead of giving the answer they knew to be right. We have conformity wired into our genes. Any kind of social upheaval is seen as negative. But why?

Groups make us stupid. They make us think one thing.They make those who could speak up, those who think differently shy away from voicing their opinions because they will be in the minority. Groups sap all our creativity, morph us into sheep, a group consciousness all thinking the same ‘wrong’ boring shit.

Personally I think weird is the new black. But going again something hard wired in our genes is extraordinarily difficult. It’s like wading through sludge. People (kids, teens and adults alike) get bullied for being different, being the one with their hand up in class ready to ask another question, for thinking outside the box or standing up and saying ‘I will’. But without those people, we wouldn’t have progression. Society wouldn’t grow. It makes me wonder though, if – when we are constrained to such an extent that only the exceptional few like Galileo, Da Vinci, and Einstein are able to break away from the norm, except their inner weird and use it to change the way we all think, then what would happen if we could all accept our inner weird?

What would happen if one day we all woke up and lived in a world where there was no weird, because we were all different?

Oh. Wait. We are all different. So why are we not allowed to embrace it?

I’ve heard people say that life gets better once you get to your thirties, I’ve heard people say every decade gets better. I’m starting to wonder if some of that ‘betterness’ isn’t actually about acceptance? I’ve had more existential life crisis than my 28 young years should have allowed. But it is what it is. Most of them have been about my inability to accept who I am. I have been trained to think I am weird or wrong because I think differently, speak differently even look different.

Teenage years are the worst, because you become cognisant of the fact that there is an acceptable norm, and then you spend that decade trying to work out what your position is in it. When you realise you don’t fit, you spend much of those years racing through fads, crazes and styles trying to establish which one fits so you know your place in society. In your twenties the fads slow to just one or two interests with life getting in the way of most of it. The life crises cease because you find a groove and a set of friends that accept you. Sometimes friends drift, and you have a period of readjustment trying to find another square hole for your square self to fit in.

But I hear that as you get older you stop giving a shit. Square pegs, round holes, fads, groups, fashions… none of it matter anymore. Why? because you know you can go get a saw and a piece of sandpaper and carve the sodding hole yourself.

The thing is, we are all a bit weird. There’s a bit of strange inside all of us, and the quicker we accept it, the faster we become comfortable with ourselves. Like when I discovered someone at work who I thought was completely straight laced, was actually in a rock band… A ROCK BAND?!

I’ve had a bit of a journey trying to accept myself. I have more weirdness than your average person and trying to squeeze all the odd aspects of myself into one group is impossible – a fact I have only recently been able to accept. So I’ve stopped trying. Now I’m carving my own hole, standing up and saying ‘I will’ and knowing that every piece of me I can accept makes me a better writer, more creative, more able to understand the plight of others.

I’ve accepted the weird in me… have you?

#1000speak

53 comments

  1. I like weird. And for a young person (only 28), lol, you are very wise. Moving through the decades is exactly as you describe. You still care, but the need to be true to yourself becomes a quieter thing, yet something you allow. In this decade (nearly the end of my 4th one) I have learned to be me. What does the next one have in store? Learning to accept my spiritual self, I hope. What are you hoping for from your 30s? All my life I never felt like I quite fit in, for no obvious reason. Now I don’t try, yet have found people who are similar. Interesting…

    1. I like weird too! Lol my boss has been calling me wise recently! How funny! Maybe I was an owl in a past life! What do I hope for? Happiness – a little success and a lot of words!

      It’s funny but since I’ve started to accept myself more – I too have met lots of like minded people… ?

  2. I’ve learnt to embrace the weird πŸ™‚ I lived in Australia for 17 years and the whole time I felt ‘different’ – I looked different, sounded different, didn’t get a lot of the cultural references (at first). I tried to fit in at first, but once I hit my 30’s I started to embrace who I was, and now I’m in my 40’s I’m fully committed to being my version of normal, however weird that might seem to someone else. You’re right in saying that we’re all different, and I tell my daughter that this is what makes the world such an interesting place – how boring it would be if we were all the same! As a writer I’m intrigued by the stories we all hold, and weird is just one of many.

    1. Thanks Helen, fascinating and sad that you felt so different for so long. I guess both a blessing and a curse of such a diverse planet with easy migrational movement. It’s reassuring to know that it gets easier to be yourself and accept whatever normal it is we create tho – that is very reassuring. I hope your daughter listens ??

  3. I’m a total conformist and a coward and straight laced and as round a peg as you will find. But I get bored easily so I also subvert, break formal and informal codes, take the piss out of anyone pompous mostly myself and love weirdness in anyone especially when it is done with passion and love. I’m a grey suited Tory who likes wearing orange and who wants to dye his beard cerise for a moon faced walk. Go figure… Maybe it’s just because I’ve ticked off 58 years and don’t give a flying dodo’s number twos what most others, beyond the Textiliste think. She accepts my many failings with good grace; to me that’s the most important acceptance.

    1. Umm… I am glad that you have accepted (and if you haven’t I hate to be the one to break it to you) that you are just as batshit bonkers as the rest of us geoffle, I mean who has a bloody name like geoffle anyway?! Only a weirdo can pull that off ??

  4. Accepting the weird can be a lifelong challenge so it’s fab that you’ve got there. And I like how you’ve linked this with Milgram’s classic conformity experiments. I wrote about this in a review of the novel The Good Children which provoked an interesting debate http://annegoodwin.weebly.com/annecdotal/the-tragedy-of-obedience-the-good-children-by-roopa-farooki
    Looking forward to your post in my post in connection with my novel about a woman’s journey to accepting the weird in herself.

  5. Great post, Sacha! It’s taken me a while to accept myself for all my quirks, and maybe that’s why I’m more determined that ever to be true to myself and strive for MY goals instead of what other people want me to do. That’s especially true for other creative souls, since we need that uniqueness and innocence to fuel our imagination. (I’m a writer, too, btw; working on Draft #2 of a novel.) Thanks very much for sharing this, and nice to meet you! πŸ™‚

    1. That is amazing. Being true to yourself is such a hard thing to do and yet the most fulfilling. I really respect you for being so resilient and determined.

      What’s your novel about? How are you finding draft 2?

      1. Thanks, Sacha. And the same respect to you, in return. πŸ™‚

        The WIP is a YA fantasy about a 17-year-old Faerie diplomat who’s forced to question a vow of vengeance when she’s tasked to help the race who killed her family. It’s got life-size faeries (think of you or me with wings), magic, and parasitic shadow demons, among other things. Draft #2 is going pretty well… slowly at times, because I have a ton of rewrites and revisions in mind, but I’m trying to be patient and remind myself that it’s for the story’s sake. How about you?

        1. That sounds absolutely amazing I actually really can’t wait to be able to read it ? sounds right up my alley.

          Mine is YA/NA, sameish kind of genre – fantasy/dystopian. Set in a world where the inhabitants are charged with keeping the balance between our world and theirs. (Their called keepers) The main characters parents are murdered right before her Keeper ceremony and then her ceremony goes wrong so she is flung into trying to fix it all and figure out how the two are connected before the balance between our world and theirs breaksdown and destroys life as we know it. Not a particularly interesting blurb – but then I haven’t written my blurb yet!!

          1. Thanks! Yours sounds really interesting, too. And you’ve got plenty of time to work on your blurb. I have one written, but it needs some reworking.

            Are you on Draft #1 of your novel, or further along?

          2. Yep still draft one although within 10k of the ending and some bits have been redrafted – apparently I’m not great at working linearly! Lol. I’m going to do a synopsis and chapter summary once I’ve completed draft 1 to keep me more on track for draft 2. What do you do when your not writing?

  6. Embrace your uniqueness, Sacha! Yes, the decades make a difference as the need to conform becomes something to be avoided at all costs. Who has the time and energy for that! I love being a little eccentric, and as a writer I feel particularly free to be my off-the-wall self. What’s most important is the quality of your spirit, your kindness, generosity of heart, and ability to laugh (weird stuff like that). Like attracts like. Be the kind of person you want to fill your life with. <3

    1. That is a simply wonderful sentiment – be the kind of person you want to fill your life with – how thought provoking and beautiful. And do you know since I started giving less fucks and accepting myself I have started to find more like minded people so you are absolutely right ?? I’ve never felt more me than when I’m writing and that is probably when I’m at my weirdest!!

  7. I embrace the weird in me, my husband said when he met me, he had never met anyone quite like me, as many others have said the same thing to me….YAY…. I want to be me…no matter,,,no holding me back or down, never conform -NEVER…..and I agree it leaves a bad taste in the mouth after you utter it…conform…Aghhhh spit, spit…..the last thing I want to be is “like” all of them…who ever them is..I too, have been called crazy, weird,, weirdo, strange, unusual, abnormal, not normal, odd, eccentric, can’t remember being called freaky..I take pride in being myself…I find that if I have a difficult time somewhere and need to call back for some reason, they always remember me…bonus!! and I like that I don’t fit the mold that society has made for us all to fit into…no thanks…you’ve heard the saying, “They broke the mold when you were made!!” heard that more than once in my life time, hell myown mom and dad have told me that……I like being referred to as different..out of the norm…thank you is all I can say….however I am also one of the nicestt, easy going people you will ever meet….just another quirk of mine…my husband says I am to nice…my reply is that you can never be to nice to anyone…especially the angry people on this earth…they need to see that someone is willing to treat them in a kind manner even if they are tying to be the biggest ass they can…I just keep smiling and talking softly…after awhile they see that I am not afraid of whatever is haunting them…kinda fun actually…I have been told that is my weirdness coming out…well then thank you again…lol At my job I was always the one they came and got if they needed to send someone in to talk to a person out of the norm, or if a doctor was ranting, send Kathy, she’s not afraid, certainly not, afraid of another’s fear or anger…nope.. its not my fault they are in the mess they are in and I tell them so, no need to take it out on me, go look in a mirrow and yell at yourself… I have told more than my share of assholes that in my past…works just about every time…lol .. as you can see I am very passionate about this topic as I have been the butt of many a joke for my quirkiness..don’t bother me,,,water off my back..its there issues of not being able to handle it not mine…..I call it there fear of being anything else than there norm. Conformist, God forbid be different step out of there tiny little boxes they have made around themselves….okay I am starting to rant..and ramble..LOL thanks for asking, I have definitely accepted the weird in me……

    1. I love this comment. And I love the fact your husband loves your uniqueness you’re so lucky to have found someone so special. I think we, and a lot of the bloggers in this community can share some of your experiences of being the butt of jokes. It’s a sad world when people can’t appreciate difference. But I’m so glad you have found peace with your uniqueness and hopefully so have I!! Thanks for reading and such a lovely comment

  8. I think the better-ness is indeed the realization that your own path has nothing to do with approval of others. Older is only better when we see this…rigid is a bad way to age.

  9. I think some of the better-ness you speak of has to do with the fact that people realize how much energy they’re wasting on getting approval or time spent waiting for approval. I know I’ve learned to give less f**ks in my 30s. There’s a peace that comes with only thinking about what you think and not caring about anyone else. It’s a difficult process, but well worth it.
    To weirdness.

    1. Ha! Amen to giving less f**ks. I don’t give many out now or I like to think I don’t but I suspect I probably do which is why I will embrace my thirties with open arms if it means more happiness and less f**kiness!! Lol. I completely agree with you though on the energy wasting.

  10. It’s true, as you get older you care less for what others think of you. I know I’ve always been the odd one out, I haven’t hidden it very well I guess but I have kept the wraps on it when necessary. To keep a job, to not embarrass the kids too much and now it shocks the hell out of them when I do something that seems perfectly normal to me but takes them by surprise – which makes it all the more delicious – haha!! Great post Sacha, gives us plenty to think about.

    1. Haha I do love surprising the crap out of people – hehe especially kids or you know like when your in the office and all professional and then you do something totally left field?! Muhahahha evil cackle of glee! Lol

    1. Hahaha! I couldn’t agree more! Bloody love a weirdo! I duno who defines it but for some reason there is a definition. Maybe I’ll write to the Oxford English Dictionary and complain! That or David Cameron! I’m sure he will listen ?

  11. Moving through the decades does get better & it’s really because we learn to accept who we are – and who others are as well. We feel outcast when we’re younger because we haven’t yet accepted that nonconformity is ok. But it sounds like you are well on your way…
    Enjoy the rest of the journey πŸ™‚

  12. I actually feel powered up after reading through this. I totally get trying not to conform and trying not to be normal because it’s boring. Truth be told, I don’t want to be normal, I don’t feel like having to conform is my only option in life. Experience has taught me not to be normal, that sometimes the best thing to do is to stand out from the crowd. One of my mottos for life: rebel against normality. I’m glad you’ve accepted yourself because if you don’t like the person staring at you in the mirror, you obviously need to do something about it. Groups can be bad but cliques are the worst of two evils, they judge everyone, the normal and the weird yet they can be weird themselves. We are all weird in our own ways, we shouldn’t try to squash our own quirks but embrace them else we turn into grey, brain-dead zombies, not even shades of grey, 50 in number could arose the passion in them.

    1. aww thank you so much for saying that :). I hope you too have accepted whatever weird you have?! :p The older I get the more acceptable being weird is – and like you – I don’t even want to be normal any more πŸ™‚

  13. how proud :
    Throughout pregnancy I thought i was carrying an alien !!! I knew it was going to be wonderful journey as my daughter played harmonica with the buskers at one, spoke from the moment she got up until she went to bed on every subject imaginable and read fluently ” Red Hen and Sly Fox ” aged three. Aged four would net a butterfly document it by checking her reference book and release it to the world liberated and free…aged around six, like a little scientist, pulling hairs from her head and placing them under her microscope, nothing was safe from spit to bogeys and writing for hours and hours in her numerous volumes of journals…drawing people with more fingers than normal, spiders with boots on and cows with several udders… on arrival to a new house my daughter then aged 14 looked at me, ‘shall we’ thus running bare foot down our new road in torrents of rain to the amusement of our fabulous new neighbours who we hadn’t seen in their doorways watching the road turning into a river, further more greatly amused shutting me outside in the garden wearing a fifties polkadot swimsuit and full Mickey Mouse head mask…she embraced the fact mum kept her motorbike in the sitting room…..I am proud of my unique daughter who’s more than ever determined to be the writer she aspires to be….WEIRED isn’t she wonderful…

  14. Rock on Sacha! Weird is beautiful. Weird is only to someone else that is beyond their scope of comprehension. If we were all conformists, the world would be like vanilla robots. Kids can be so hard on other kids because they know no better, they’re jealous of what the other has more of, or perhaps even because they are products of ignorant parents. Whatever it is, in this era they are now being called out for it. In our era we may have been the victims of these bullies, but look how great we turned out! Wonder what ‘they’re’ doing now? πŸ™‚
    Excellent post my friend!

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