I didn’t know I was quirky. I look enough like a certain kind of person, you know, to pass for normal. I’ve done my best all my life, to be that. Normal. And all I ever wanted, was a normal life.
It never was. Normal. I never was, either. I’m not sure what I think normal is anymore. I just never hit the mark.
Yet, the way I look, seem, speak, allows me to go and be where I want. At first glance, I am a certain kind of person, woman. I am well spoken, polite, pretty, and have a professional approach, while keeping things to the warm side. I am approachable. I make a point of fitting in, putting people at ease, and not startling them with any jarring differentness on my part. I like to be easy to be around. It opens many doors, affords me opportunity, makes me a friend if you want one. It’s not calculated, just the way I navigate the world. While I do seem to wear my heart on my sleeve, I don’t wear all of me there. I like the freedom of not deciding for you who I am to you, but letting you decide how much you want to know me. It’s ok with me if you like me only knowing a part of me. It’s not like it’s wrong. It’s just kind of up to you. In a way, I don’t want to limit myself.
I am accepted places I have a purpose in being. I don’t have a driving need to be accepted anywhere that requires me being idiosyncratic. For sure, I’ve done my best to downplay any weirdness of me. It makes people uncomfortable. It makes people put labels on you.
Here’s the thing. My differentness, it’s not hidden. It’s just not front and center. I don’t like to lead with it, make it enter the room before I do. It’s like a woman’s hair entering the room before she does. It’s all anyone will focus on, remember about you. There’s a little more to me than my “quirks”. Finding the common ground gives me the opportunity to get to know you, get something done, let you get to know me, before you get a picture gelled about just what I am; a picture made because I painted it for you. Like the woman with the hair walking into the room.
All that said, I wonder where and when my “quirkiness” has become apparent, when I’ve learned to be quiet about it. This week, I heard it on two separate occasions. Quirky. Different. Pioneering. Visionary. Various elaborations on that theme.
It was said like a compliment, a recognition of something good. Inside I cringed, just a little bit. I could only think of all the years I worked so hard to just fit in, lay low, not make myself a target and not be a challenge to anyone lest I offend them.
And not paint myself into a role I don’t want.
Another part of me heard the affection and admiration, the statement of appreciation in it that I did or had something “different” and that that was good.
Here’s some of what Merriam-Webster online says about “quirky”:
bizarre, bizarro, cranky, crazy, curious, eccentric, erratic, far-out, funky, funny, kinky, kooky (also kookie), offbeat, off-kilter, off-the-wall, outlandish, out-of-the-way, outré, peculiar, quaint, queer, queerish, quirky, remarkable, rum [chiefly British], screwy, spaced-out, strange, wacky (also whacky), way-out, weird, weirdo, wild
aberrant, abnormal, addlepated, flaky; extraordinary, fantastic (also fantastical), freak, freakish, freaky, phantasmagoric (or phantasmagorical), phenomenal; atypical, rare, singular, uncommon, uncustomary, unique, unusual, unwonted; conspicuous, notable, noticeable, outstanding, prominent, salient, striking; atrocious, outrageous, shocking; crotchety, idiosyncratic, nonconformist, nonmainstream, out-there, unconventional, unorthodox; baffling, bewildering, confounding, mystifying, perplexing, puzzling
I’m not sure how I feel about this….
About the only thing that makes me feel ok about it is when I read this-
average, commonplace, everyday, garden, normal, ordinary, prosaic, routine, run-of-the-mill, standard, typical, unexceptional, unremarkable, usual, workaday; conformist, conservative, conventional; expected, familiar, knee-jerk, predictable; common, customary, frequent, habitual, regular, wonted
I guess I’ll take being the opposite of those…
A good friend once told me “If I were you, I’d wear it like a fucking CROWN.”
He was speaking about my “differentness.”
I couldn’t have thought of anything that sounded more uncomfortable.
Maybe I’ve changed.
I still don’t want to wear it like a crown. Not literally. I like my freedom, even if it doesn’t seem like freedom to some people. I still want to be able to move through the world wherever I see fit, for me, without assigning a label or a character to myself by being “different.” I’m not in a box. I sure don’t want anyone putting me in one based on a picture I gave them.
But yeah, maybe I’ve changed. A little.
How about you? If you’ve ever been considered “different”, and it wasn’t what you were trying to be, did it feel good? Or did you say, “I’m not sure how I feel about this…”?
Maybe you had the alarm go off inside you, the one that said “Beware! They’re on to you. Now you’re in for it!” Maybe you worried that you might be cast in a role; “The Different One.” It happens; it happened to me, long ago. I wanted some room to be, whatever. No one wants to play the same part, over and over, like there’s nothing else. They call that typecasting in the movies, and it’s kind of a dead end. People need to name things, and they’ll name you too, sometimes.
Quirky. It was said affectionately, admiringly. But that little cringe was there when I heard it. The small voice inside that warned, so long ago, “Don’t be different.”
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