Several years ago (maybe five or six), I was at a downtown bar, where a work colleague (who produces music in his off-hours) was spinning vinyl and had invited a whole scad of us to come check him out.
The place was packed, and I remember flitting around, saying hi to friends, and dancing in the tiny designated dance space in this narrow establishment.
At one point, I remember spotting a work colleague who was slightly older than me – who, I suppose, I admired and respected – and went over to say hello.
I think it’d been one of those weeks where I’d been working all day, then making myself go out in the evenings … and I think it had started to take its toll, because I think he asked me how I was doing, and instead of answering with fully formed, enunciated words, stuttering babble tumbled out instead.
(Most of the time, my brain moves faster and far more eloquently than my tongue and lips do. It’s something I’ve learned to work with.)
I caught myself, and I remember stopping, closing my eyes, and beginning again – this time, in actual English.
“Why are you so weird?”
The rest of it, I really don’t remember. Just that.
Looking back on it, I can now say he was being a dick to me. Straight up.
And for what reason? Because I stuttered?
Over time, the word “weird” (in the context of human interaction) has come to be a source of irritation for me. And it’s got me thinking:
What defines “not weird”, exactly?
Who on earth gets to set the benchmark for what constitutes “normal”?
We live at a time when, thanks to social media, we can find whole communities of people with whom we share interests, opinions, insecurities, fears and so on, without having to travel very far from the comforts of our homes.
At the same time, the way we interact and communicate with each other as human beings has changed, even gotten more difficult. Just saying hi or smiling at a stranger in some places elicits a reaction which might be reserved for a dog walking around on its hind legs speaking Czech.
This type of environment might make it challenging for introverts, socially-awkward types and other labelled “misfits” to engage with people or find real-life flocks to join, if they do venture outside.
What about folks who might be dealing with mental health issues? Some of the funniest, unique, most interesting people I know, or have met, or encountered online, struggle with things such as anxiety or depression – and some of them speak about that struggle.
What about people who march to the beat of their own drummer, who just see and do things differently? Or who are just really excitable about things or life in general?
None of these aspects of people’s lives or personalities make them weird. It makes them multi-dimensional human beings. And I think all these folks deserve a modicum of understanding and open-mindedness, as opposed being held at arm’s-length because they’re rhomboid-shaped pegs that don’t fit into the round-shaped holes that are the “standard” for social behaviour.
Why should they have to fit?
The example I mentioned at the beginning sticks with me still. A little bit of it has to do with the way I was made to feel. Mostly, I was annoyed at myself for letting that question slide past me without an appropriate answer.
Because if I had the chance for a do-over, and I was once again asked, “Why are you so weird?”
My answer should have been:
**Hey kids! If you have time, head on over to my friend Renée’s blog and check out why she enjoys a good steak dinner every so often.**