Embrace Your Weird

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I woke up this morning with a fun - and decidedly bizarre - idea for a new tabletop/board game involving food in a fictional universe. It didn't come from a dream, as some of my ideas do, and was completely unrelated to any of the media I'd been consuming recently or anything I'd been working on.

Naturally, my first thought was "I'm glad my brain is so weird!"

I've always aspired to be weird, though I've rarely publicly proclaimed achievement of that goal. "Weird" has varied connotations; some audiences are more receptive to it than others.

Dictionary.com defines the word as "fantastic" or "bizarre" - a definition that's a bit out of touch with modern usage. Urban Dictionary likens it to both "interesting" and "strange, " which is much more fitting to my personal perception.

Weird can be used as a self-deprecating exclusion tactic. "It's too weird for you. You wouldn't get it. You wouldn't like it." Weird can be a way for individuals or groups to separate themselves from the "normals," "basics," or "plebs." My intention in embracing weirdness is never to put up boundaries. I do want to create worlds and experiences that are different from what's come before, that make unique points of view accessible to those who might otherwise not have encountered them. I realize that strangeness is uncomfortable for some people, and that, by definition, not everyone will appreciate things that go outside the norm. In fact, some people are so threatened by weirdness pushing on their safe bubbles of normalcy that they shun or even attack the idea-vessels and the people who make them.

However, others will see these "weird" things and feel like finally someone is speaking their language. When the things you create are interesting and strange, you're almost guaranteed to connect with people who were longing for exactly what you have to offer, even if they didn't know it at first.

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It reminds me of an experience I had in my first computer science course in college. Friendly avatar Karel the Robot lead us through a series of exercises using a simplified language, teaching us coding basics (much like the earlier grade school staple LOGO). I embraced the tool, putting way too much time into programming her to render Conway's Game of Life for an in-class competition. I was proud of my achievement, and a little disappointed at the tepid reception of my presentation. My TA at the time, however, was blown away by what I had done. "They just don't get it!" he emphatically complained on my behalf. "They think it's moving around at random drawing squares. They don't realize that it's assessing the state of the board and making consistent and accurate decisions!" My program was not what most people expected to see that day, and so they dismissed it. But it meant something to my TA. It moved and inspired him. Triggering that sense of discovery and connection is one of the best feelings in the world to me, and being consistently weird is how I intend to keep getting there.

What does weirdness mean to you? Do you embrace it? Share your thoughts below!