I’ve always felt a little... off... from others. As a young child, I struggled to make sense of why I didn’t feel like I fit in. I mean, I could if I wanted to, saying all the right things and wearing all the right clothes, but it was never long before I reverted to my real self—the self that just felt weird.
Now, I’ve been in the creative field for over 22 years. I can’t tell you how liberating it was to fall into a group of unusual people. Though none of us looked or thought or even created the same way, there was an understanding that we were free to be ourselves—quirks and all—and celebrated rather than questioned.
So if there’s one thing I’m familiar with, it’s weird people.
But as I raise three kids of my own, cultivating weirdness where I can, I’ve been reminded that in the real world, people will try to push your weirdness into a mold that makes them more comfortable around you. Outside of the design world, I’m often met with blank stares. People mistake my tendency to observe and think about the world as being aloof. When they ask me a question and I pause to consider it, they get antsy. When I don’t notice them in the grocery store because my mind is in the middle of thinking through something else, they get offended. In the real world, people are more comfortable with blending, and so they eventually scoot down on the bench until they sit together with what is familiar to them.
While the weirdos like me remain on the fringe.
But, the fringe is where the world is changed. In fact, it’s where the world was once turned upside down by a man named Jesus. A total weirdo, in the best sense of the word.
He didn’t blend with the crowd. He wasn’t concerned with being accepted. He thought for himself, and wasn’t afraid if those thoughts made people uncomfortable. He spent time alone and considered things deeply. He stood up for his beliefs, even when they went against what most believed.
He associated with the outliers and left the blending in to those who needed it to feel accepted. He hung with those that others didn’t agree with, those who were judged for being different, those whom society had pushed to the side. Because that is where the miracles could happen. That is where lives were radically changed.
He thought creatively and explained his ideas in beautiful imagery that often left others dumbfounded. I can just imagine some hearing his parables and walking away from them shaking their head, maybe poking fun, and thinking what a strange man he was. Why couldn’t he just talk and explain things like the other teachers did?
He wasn’t ashamed of being outside the accepted norms of society. In fact, he was drawn there. And it turned the world on its axis.
His weirdness changed history forever.
So, if there’s one thing I’m encouraging my kids to be, it’s to be weird. To think differently. To not care about dressing to impress others. To stretch their minds and consider their thoughts and feelings on everything from math, to sports, to why school cheese is such an odd color of orange. I want them to feel fully, and express what upsets them, and create in whatever way that means to them. I want them to challenge the norm, and stand up to ridiculous expectations of fitting in, and to think deeply about everything from money, to romance, to why the best number two pencils really are the traditional yellow ones.
Encourage your kids to be weird, moms. Don’t feel the need to make them fit into what is acceptable. Instead, give them the gift of accepting what is strange and different about them. Celebrate what makes them unique in their thinking.
You never know how doing so might lead them to one day change the world.
Laura Polk is a writer, speaker, and textile designer residing in North Carolina with her three children. Since becoming a single mom, her passion to minister to this group has led her to encourage successful single mom living through The Christian Single Mom on Facebook. Follow her journey through her blog or get a glimpse into her quirky thoughts and inspirations for design and writing on Pinterest.
Publication date: April 19, 2016