by Niall Doherty

Whenever you find yourself on the side of the majority, it is time to pause and reflect. – Mark Twain

Sing it, Mark.

It used to bug me when people called me weird. They called me that when I went to live 4,000 miles away from home, just to be closer to my favorite basketball team. They called me that when I went vegetarian, and then vegan. Nowadays I get called weird for wearing strange shoes, for asking uncomfortable questions, and for owning only what I can carry.

I used to get defensive and argue with the critics.

No no no, I’m not weird at all! Let me explain… but I don’t mind being called weird anymore. I’ve actually come to love it.

See, I’ve come to realize just how much normal sucks. I’d much rather be weird, because normal people don’t live exceptional lives; they’re not the ones living up to their potential and making an impact. They’re too busy trying not to be weird, too busy being afraid to stand out, to truly make a difference in the world.

The good kind of weird

Not all weird is good. Look up some synonyms for the word and you’ll find awful, creepy and grotesque right alongside awe-inspiring, supernatural and uncanny.

I try not to be weird just for the sake of it. That’s the bad kind of weird. Good weird serves a purpose.

Different is better when it is more effective or more fun. – Tim Ferriss

If you can do something unorthodox to improve your life (without compromising your values), then go for it. Don’t let normal people talk you down.

Normal is scary

Normal people dislike weirdness because it’s unfamiliar, and that makes it scary. But I consider normality to be the real terror.

In my manifesto I tell the story of a fictional chap named Seamus, a representative of normality. He resents getting out of bed every morning, eats crappy food, struggles through his 9-to-5 and spends every evening in front of the TV. In the United States, normal is earning less than $40,000 a year, enduring a soul-crushing job, being overweight, growing up in a broken home and having thousands of dollars in credit card debt.

That’s what passes for normal nowadays, and it scares the hell out of me. I’ll take weird over that any day.

Why I’m weird

I’m weird because I’m vegan. Normal people aren’t willing to experiment with their diet, and never give much thought to where their food comes from.

I’m weird because I talk to strangers. Normal people keep their guard up, conditioned to believe that every new person could be a thief, cheat or rapist.

I’m weird because I don’t watch television. Normal people sit watching it mindlessly, several hours at a time.

I’m weird because I love to work but don’t want a job. Normal people want a job but hate to work.

I’m weird because I exercise every day. Normal people think that’s excessive.

I’m weird because I own just 57 things. Normal people buy “storage solutions” and become slaves to their possessions.

I’m weird because I go all in to make my dreams a reality. Normal people opt to wait until they win the lotto.

Being weird in Ireland

I was going to write here about how it’s tough being weird in Ireland, and how I can’t ever see myself living long-term in this country. I was going to make a joke about inner conflict, how somewhere inside of me there’s a weird dude doing battle with a leprechaun (oh look, I made that joke anyway).

I just realized though that the map I’ve been using no longer matches the territory. It was fairly easy being weird back in New Orleans. Folks there are pretty open-minded. I was expecting more resistance in Ireland. Growing up here, I knew it to be a fairly begrudging place, where standouts are traditionally mocked and ostracised. Before moving back, I accepted that I may have to endure a few months of ridicule and isolation.

I’ve been home for two months now though, and I can’t say I’ve had many problems. I’ve made good friends easily and feel more a part of the Cork community with each passing day. Sure, Ireland has undergone a significant change in recent years, what with the recession and everything, but I believe the big difference in my experience living here now vs. back in 2007 is internal rather than external. I’ve accepted and even embraced my weirdness, and everyone around me seems to have followed suit.

Chalk one up for your beliefs shaping your reality.

That said, I still plan to travel for the next 3-5 years. Lots more world out there

to see ;-).

You’re such a weirdo

What makes you weird? Have you been embracing that weirdness, or keeping a lid on it for fear of what other people will think? I’d encourage you to let it out.

Remember, the real thing to be afraid of is being normal like everyone else. Nobody remembers mediocrity. Weirdos change the world.