Hi reader. You're a weirdo, aren't you?
I hope I didn't offend you. I mean it in the best way possible.
See, I'm a weirdo too.
Actually, I believe we're all weirdos in one way or another. Some people are just better at hiding their weirdness. And that's their loss.
The average is… average
Most of us have a period growing up when we just want to be normal.
Anything odd about us is bad, hidden, shamed.
Society definitely encourage streamlining our personalities in some ways, but it's built upon human instinct. We have learned the hard way through evolution that standing out is a bad idea. If you're too odd, the pack might leave you behind or offer you as lion bait. Through our old history, being average was a good thing.
But just like our bodies still think it's a good idea to eat all the sugar we get our hands on, that instinct is a bit outdated. Being different might still exclude you from some rooms, but in the big picture, embracing your quirks is great, especially as a creative.
Imagine a circus audition
You're the director and you're sitting on the brink around the circus ring, the smell of sawdust and nervous jitters strong around you. Five acrobats are trying out for one position today, and one by one, they do their audition performances. Four of them do a variety of the same advanced movements, with precision and elegance. But the fifth one, she's different. She has the same level of excellence in her movements and balance, but her routine is unique. Some of her movements is of her own creation and the rest she bends and twists in a way you haven't seen before.
First of all, when they walk out of the circus tent, who do you remember?
Secondly, who would you choose to make your circus the best and most amazing circus there is?
Did the four other acrobats want this position any less? Of course not. They have practiced for this moment for years, they will cry bitter tears and wonder why they weren't good enough. They were in fact just as good, but they didn't stand out. They didn't have the courage to go into that ring, take a chance and say:
This is me. I'm different, and this is what makes me awesome.
Your weirdness is your secret weapon
We are many many people on this earth. And we're many, many who wants to be authors, singers, painters, bloggers, designers… Chances are we're inspired by the same influencers, we get taught the same techniques and if we don't consciously go looking for what makes us special, we're going to be quite similar. Might feel safe and cozy, but if we want to catch the attention of others, we and our creations need to stand out in some way.
Standing out by being "the best" is rarely an option. But your own weirdness is already there, whether you know it or not. It's the secret weapon you carry with you wherever you go, you just have to learn to access it and use it when you need to fire off some oddness.
It doesn't have to be completely unique
What? Didn't I just say you should be unique and now I'm telling you you don't?
Here's the thing. We're all children of the same earth and even our weird uniqueness have their similarities. In fact, when we bring out our weirdness, we have a tendency to get a lot of ooh me too from fellow weirdos. No problem.
Our creations doesn't have to be completely unique either. If they're too unique, people might have a hard time understanding them. While it may be innovative and amazing art, it might be harder to gain attention for it, so that's your call depending on your goals. Just know that the completely unique creations are rare, if they even exist at all, and not necessarily something to strive for.
There's absolutely nothing wrong with inspiration and learning from others. Sometimes people think the only way to do something special is to completely shut off the rest of the world. First of all, that's quite hard. Secondly, we can still make our own, special thing while at the same time letting the outside world inspire and teach us.
What we need is our own twist, a sprinkle of weirdness, a dash of crazy. We find that in our personality, our taste and our memories.
So how do we use our weirdness?
You're completely free to come up with your own weird way of embracing your own style, but here's three ways I like.
1. Start with you
Sometimes when we start a project, we tend to read all sorts of guides on how to start. While they might be helpful, if we follow them too closely we can lose our own perspective.
You already know and master a lot of things, use that! Surely you have a taste and a personality, don't forget it. Say you want to start writing a novel - start with what you want to write, what you've gone through in your life, what kind of style you like, what you're already good at. All of those are things to consider when you shape a new project and it will give you something from your own unique perspective right from the start.
2. Embrace what comes naturally
There's often some little things that come naturally to us when we create. A certain style feels more at home, or we have a little thing that often shows up. Unless it's something you really dislike for some reason, embrace it!
Be the girl who always curls your letters or the guy who overuse quotation marks. Of course, it can be a bit too much, but as long as you balance it, use those natural things. In fiction writing, it's easier for me to write in first person, so that's what I do.
Creativity is not a fight. Don't make it one.
3. Sprinkle little parts of yourself
I don't mean literally, that'd be morbid.
(It'd be unique though… but please don't.)
What I mean is that you can use all of those little quirks and sprinkle them out over your creations. Your taste, history, memories, personality. All the small things that makes you you. If you take photos, use your love for a certain color, or how good are at making people laugh. When you write, use your special knowledge of the fall of the Roman Empire, or how good you are at understanding people.
When you draw, why not include your obsession for Lord of the Rings? If you're writing a song, use the emotions of a memory to give depth to the lyrics.
It'll be worth it, I promise
As we've already established, standing out can be incredibly scary. But it's worth the fear and the feeling of being naked in front of your high school.
When you start to bring more of yourself into your art, you're essentially strengthening your own voice. It might be hard in the beginning and you may either feel like there's nothing special about you, or that when you try, the result always suffer.
It takes practice to find your own style and how to dial it up and down. But if you give it time and effort, your art will become more and more your own thing, the unique creations only you can make. Remember the girl who won the circus audition? You'd rather be her than the other four, wouldn't you?
So let's go be weirdos, shall we?