“Be a first rate version of yourself, not a second rate version of someone else” – Judy Garland
One of the things that comes up over and over again in my conversations with a lot of the cool, creative people that I meet is what I’m calling the Weirdo Syndrome. The Weirdo Syndrome is the love/hate relationship some people have with their own uniqueness.
If you simultaneously want to be a part of the crowd but know you’re at your best when you’re not, you’ve got the Weirdo Syndrome. What makes the Weirdo Syndrome so frustrating is that, deep down, you don’t want to give up the best parts of yourself to fit in, but you also don’t want your life to be so damn hard.
If you’ve got the Weirdo Syndrome, you may have wondered why everyone around you has such an easy time meeting people and making friends when it’s so hard for you. You don’t want to go out to the bar and talk about football or the weather, and if that’s what “hanging out” means, well, you’re better off staying at home and reading a book.
The saddest thing about the Weirdo Syndrome is how insecure it makes you. You have this really cool gift that nobody gets or understands, and because you’ve been directly or indirectly rejected, you hide that gift away. You might hate that it’s your gift and would rather exchange it for something less “unique.”
And since you’re hiding your true gift, it’s hard to be passionate about anything else. Sure, you can be good at something – maybe even better than anyone else you’ve met – but you know you’ll never be great at it. You want to care, but there’s a big difference between wanting to care so that you can get the approval of others and caring because it’s your thing, even if you haven’t cognized that until just now.
The bad news is that you can’t get other people’s clothes to fit you. You’re never going to be truly comfortable because you’ll always know that the clothes don’t fit right. Go ahead, try on as many suits made for other people as you like; you’ll always know that nothing will fit you like your clothes do.
Now, I’ve got some good news for you, too: you’re not alone. There are people out there who are just as weird as you who will value you and your gifts because they’re uniquely yours, not despite them being yours. You don’t have to hide yourself to be loved and accepted – let go of the thought that being authentically happy and being seen, loved, and valued are mutually exclusive.
You can’t be remarkable and fit in at the same time. The unique value that you bring to the world can only be done by you – and the more you try to fit in, the less remarkable you’ll be. The more you accept and share your gifts, the more you will stand out and be able to connect with people who want to be around you for who you are. (Yes, I know, this is terrifying because that means you’ll be seen, but you’ve tried hiding out – what did that get you?)
The bittersweet reality is that you’ll never get rid of the Weirdo Syndrome, but the more you understand that your weirdness isn’t a bad thing and something to hide in the closet, the more you’ll be able to find those people who see how uniquely beautiful you are rather than how weird you are.
I’ll end this by saying three things:
- You’re not alone. You’re probably a Creative Giant like me and many of my friends.
- You don’t have to hide from us.
- You’re safe here. Welcome home.