A year ago, I purchased the t-shirt you see above as part of a campaign by Felicia Day to support anti-bullying. Proceeds from t-shirt sales went to Stomp Out Bullying, a leading U.S. organization dedicated to reducing and preventing bullying. I’m a firm supporter of anti-bullying and the t-shirt design was excellent, so I did what I so rarely do—I bought a new t-shirt.
Since the day my Embrace Your Weird shirt came in the mail, I’ve been wearing it with pride. Though I’m glad I was able to support an anti-bullying organization, it’s the phrase on the shirt, the idea it represents, that means so much to me.
Embrace your Weird.
It’s a rallying call to the outsiders, the ostracized—the people that don’t feel like or struggle to fit into “normal” society—to unabashedly be who we are. Cast off our cloaks of shame and shed that +5 to embarrassment! This is who we are and we are beautiful! At the same time, I feel like it’s a demand to “normalize different”—accepting that every person is weird, and choosing not to separate ourselves from one another because we don’t conform to some ridiculous, made-up classification system that is neither helpful nor harmless.
As Felicia says, “Peer pressure, bullying, conformity, all causes us to abandon those things that make us different and makes it hard for us to fit in. But those differences are our superpowers, ya’ll! Never get rid of those things that make you an individual!”
I think she’s absolutely right, and it goes even deeper. By abandoning your weird, you’re actually giving up an important part of yourself—your self. I mean your actual this is me, “I’m a conscious being” self.
Your “weird,” you see, is you.
It’s that place inside of you where your passions, your idiosyncrasies, your knowledge, your experience, and many, many more aspects of yourself overlap. Think of each element of you as a circle in a Venn diagram: your experiences overlapping with your knowledge overlapping with that idea that fascinates you overlapping with your family history overlapping with your love of Firefly… Each one is a circle, and bits of each overlap with pieces of the other. But there’s one place, right in the centre, a tiny little chunk where all those elements overlap and that, my friend, is your “weird”—your you.
Many people love Firefly, just like me, but I doubt there’s one person in the entire world that likes it for the exact same reason I do. My experiences and history, combined with my passions and feelings, give me a perspective on the world that is wholly my own. Similar to some others, for sure—because we either went to the same school or both read the Hobbit in grade 7—but none of them grew up in the home I did or fell off their bike in the same gravel pit (twice); which means we each bring a different series of lenses that form our unique perspective. I don’t think it’s possible for any two people to share the exact same Venn diagram—now officially dubbed the “Weird-o’-gram”—and that’s a good thing.
“Embrace your Weird” isn’t just for my fellow geeks, nerds, dorks, and outsiders. Weird is for everyone because we’re all weird. We’re the rising ape reaching up to the sky, and there’s nothing more weird than that. So do as the t-shirt says: embrace your Weird!
Do it for your mental health; for your growth as a person. Because when your Weird is the piece of you that is you, rejecting it means rejecting yourself—and there’s never a good reason to reject yourself. The VIA Institute on Character, a not-for-profit that does research on character strengths, found through their studies that when a person focuses on understanding and utilizing their strengths—as opposed to focusing on improving their weaknesses—they’re actually happier and more successful.
I’ve never really felt like I “fit-in” completely to any of my communities, and I always felt like that was a problem. Like I was just too weird for anyone! But now I’m wondering if everyone doesn’t feel that way, and you know what—I kind of hope we do. Because being different means bringing a different perspective, and any project I’ve worked on has always, always benefited from a new perspective.
So let’s normalize different! Let us accept that by our very existence we, humans, are all weird, and that is the most beautiful part about us.
So the next time someone calls you weird, smile, look them in the eyes and say, “Thank you. You’re weird, too. Doesn’t it feel great?”