My eldest daughter and I were talking one evening when she revealed to me that a boy in her class used to call her “weird.”
He apparently said this because he loved studying and asking lots of questions, and because he made jokes that, to him, weren’t funny.
When I asked how he responded, his response made me smile.
“I told him, ‘Great. Weird makes me cool,'” he told me.
And then he continued the conversation, undisturbed about the matter and ready to discuss what he described as a “more important” topic.
I’m also called ‘weird’
For years I’ve been telling my two daughters that “weird is cool.” I say this because I believe, but also because I relate.
When I was growing up, especially during my high school years, I was also called a “weird person”, along with other variations of the word.
Sometimes it’s said as a direct insult, other times it’s wrapped in the disguise of some kind of affectionate pet name: “You bastard” is a common example of this.
I used to hate hearing these descriptions, whatever their form. They made me feel different — as if something was wrong with me and I wasn’t cool.
I am often clearly embarrassed when it is told me, and this makes me either insecure or ashamed to be myself.
With the benefits of maturity and self-awareness, along with the beauty of looking back, I learned that these “weird” characteristics of mine were my greatest asset. They are also traits that make me, me.
In my case, it’s my creativity, my love of writing and reading (especially darker stories), and my quick, dry wit that isn’t always understood or appreciated.
It’s my passion for signature jewelry — specifically earrings that no one else wears.
In the end, a lot of things aren’t considered cool or conventional — or what other people are used to.
Like a mother like a child
Now, as a woman in her late 30s, with two daughters of my own, little versions of myself and my husband (another weirdo from the past), some of our characteristics are starting to show up in them too.
A girl, like me, prefers real life stories, especially those with a dark side. He would often read non-fiction books about the Titanic or the most haunted locations in the whole world, and tell the facts to anyone who would listen.
Our other daughter is a comedian. He is animated, has perfect comedic timing, and uses humor that often goes beyond the minds of others his age.
Despite always adopting my “weird is cool” mantra, I was a little worried at first when I started observing this characteristic in our girls.
I worry because I remember what my husband and I went through in high school—names and ridicule, and the impact they had on each of us.
‘The truth is: Weird is awesome’
As a parent, my first instinct is to protect my own children from being hurt.
But then I realized that most of the traits that were considered odd when my husband and I were growing up allowed us to be successful professionally. They also allow us to be surrounded by true friends who find us funny, charming, and attractive.
These traits are what we find most attractive to one another, and above all, they are what we believe to be our best qualities.
And this is what I want for my children. I want them to be who they are—weird or otherwise—and not feel as though they have to change or eliminate who they really are because other people don’t understand them.
Although some people don’t value or respect those who are different, the truth is: weird is beautiful.
Odd means that you are unique, quirky, unusual, or curious. It means that you think and express yourself in a different way than others around you, and that makes you stand out.
As the famous saying goes: “Be yourself; everyone is taken”.
If being weird means being yourself, well, that’s the greatest thing you can be.
Shona Hendley is a freelance writer and former high school teacher from the Victorian area. She lives with four fish, three goats, two cats and a chicken, as well as two human children and her husband. Find him @shonamarion.
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