Loving Your Weird

I wrote this earlier in the year and offer it again, now, as comfort if, in isolation, you are thinking too much in a way that’s not, you know, very supportive of you; or maybe, although we are all frightened and stressed, there are elements of the quiet and seclusion of the current situation which are helpful to you and you think you’re a bit odd; or anything, really. Uncomfortable feelings about yourself, your strange little traits and perhaps also where and how your life intersects with others’ lives. Well now. I have been called weirdo, crazy person, an eccentric, nutter and many things my entire life. I am very friendly, but struggle with a great deal of social contact and have to go and lie down in a darkened room (or something like that). I love being with people but have never liked parties and I’ve been called a social reject for that (as well as being called a weirdo for various things like engaging in a conversation that’s too in-depth, or off-beam); I chat to pigeons on a walk. I like pigeons. Some pigeons seem to like me. I hope you get the idea.

You are bloody marvellous. I just know it. Read on. Here is the original blog post…

A quick but, I hope, bolstering post. (With some help from marvellous Victorian photographs – some edited later.)

I am just back from the primary school run. Ah, it’s a conservative place. I have, over many years’ parenting (my boys are 8-18 but also, at various times, there’s been partial care of others’ children), been introduced as ‘the crazy one’, ‘the mad one,’ ‘the nutter’ and, best of all, ‘the weird one (I was telling you about’ – thereby revealing that they’ve been talking about your particular weird behind your back). I used to get very upset about this. It’s because I have been described in this way my entire life and, despite parts of my brain wanting just to be me, weirdo, the other parts yearned for acceptance. This is not a comfortable thing. However, what does fitting in mean? If it means suppressing your character, oddities, imagination, beliefs and those things that make you you, then this is sad. You should be you. Certainly, you ought to reflect on others’ responses and needs; check your language and outlook are broad and inclusive – and you ought to self reflect because from that stems greater kindness to others. However, if you have earnestly done those things, then come as you are.

Because, other than that attention to kindness, detail and community, FUCK OFF, basically. Weird is great.

So, I am thinking I have grown into my weird a bit better. I think I might have raised slightly weird children. Actually, one of my offspring was described critically as ‘weird’ by a teacher and it was not meant in a positive way. So I quietly said, ‘And with that I am going to leave and maybe we can talk again at a later time while we consider what might be positive about weird?’

Woo. I was being that tough, but of course I cried all the way home.

Come off it, though; we are all weird. And I like the weirder end of weird. Here are some facts about me:

  1. I had a catalogue of imaginary friends well into my teens. This is (forgive me – but you see weird is also a response to trauma so we are going a bit dark suddenly) because I was beaten and scared and gaslit. I made myself into Frida from ABBA because I liked her red hair – my parents had ABBA albums – and my best friend was Agneta who had awesome counselling skills.
  2. When I was 16 my best friend was 88. She got me. She was weird too and liked bird skulls, tarot and Irish myths and legends. She was a storyteller, God rest her soul.
  3. I am really into Jesus but I swear a lot. Though not in church. Or when I am reading Mother Julian of Norwich because I can’t sleep and need a revelation of divine love.
  4. I am shit at mum groups. Always have been, but it took me a long time to admit it and see that this didn’t mean I was a social maladept, a bit boring or a bit of a wanker. I get restless and I don’t know how to keep it going. After 18 years of parenting I haven’t learned. The last one I attended, we somehow got onto sex and who was gay or not – and I ended up saying, ‘Well I’d identify as queer but I haven’t mentioned it because I’ve been married to a man for twenty years so it’s as relevant as fuck in that way. I married a man because that’s who I was in love with.’ There was an awkward silence. Then, ‘OH MY GOD YOU ARE EVEN WEIRDER THAN I THOUGHT’. To which I said, ‘I SAID QUEER AND QUEER IS NOT WEIRD, BABY.’ Whatsapp dismissal.
  5. I am an introvert but I just sang songs from Annie on the KS2 field at the top of my voice to make it easier for some reluctant pupils to go in. They were embarrassed. But they were happy. A child in KS1 recently said to me, ‘My mum says you’re weird but I really like you.’ Think about that sentence. There was another time when someone said to me (I remember it; I was outside the school office, attempting to partially conceal myself behind the bin while trying to hoick my tights up), ‘You are clinically insane.’ That was someone’s ma too. I was dumbfounded on this occasion because she was smiling and I was a bit stuck on the word ‘clinically’ because as far as I knew she was an interior designer. It might have been the fact I was partially concealed behind the bin that prompted the comment, but more likely a sense, after having made various observations and tours of me, of having to express a dislike of something…off; odd; eldritch. To spit it out; like, if you thought you’d put a Minstrel in your mouth and realised it was a rock or some poo.
  6. I dress in a funny mixture of Victoriana and sports kit and my tattoo is in Latin.
  7. I carry my chickens about, crooning to them. They are totally into it. I can’t wait to start a conversation with the man who whispers and gurgles to his rooks, the lady who has a tiny glittering altar outside her house or the man who crosses the road every time he sees the local priest. I have a theory, which is that maybe, if you’re a bit odd, you notice more. And maybe – even more radically – you notice people who might be a bit marginalised but with whom you could have a great chat and suddenly everyone there is having a better day. What do you think?
  8. My thinking goes rat a tat rat a tat all day long; allusive; solving problems with quotations; snatches of song if need be. It is how I manage things but also I am always making stories and seeing links. I wish I had had the confidence to write books earlier – but it’s all coming out now. That’s because of the weird, you see. It’s liberated.
  9. I am fascinated by all things morbid and moribund and always have been. I have day trips to see particularly fetching memento mori. I am really fascinated by undertakers and embalming. It keeps coming up as a theme. In fact, the fascination just created a whole second volume of stories (we will see about that!)
  10. Here’s the thing: we are all a patchwork of oddities and everyone really is an outsider in their questing and difficult experience. It is natural to stick with a herd – and I am not rejecting being in groups of people – but I do think we could question such if we stick because we are scared of being on our own or because we are suppressing our oddities in favour of something that makes us more socially palatable.

So find your weird. Explore it in writing, as I have done and will continue to do. Ultimately, just be you: perfect and as you were meant to be, memento mori, spoon collecting, fancy dress you.

One thought on “Loving Your Weird

  1. Hello Mrs Vaught,

    You may remember me from such films as “I lived in your town for five years”, “That Headteacher has to go!”, or the most recent cinematic masterpiece, “My children recently reconnected with their old home town”.

    I cannot for a moment conceive of a situation where you would allow yourself to be so self-indulgent as to cry at the unsettling of your ego by such a vacuous lot. A gaggle that dwell, malinger and religiously mark their territories within the school precinct as unevolved creatures are apt to do. I too have walked the psychological tightrope at the school pick up. I had strategies. I would keep myself at a very specific minimum distance from other parents, knowing that the English sense of decorum would not allow them to verbalise beyond a certain vocal level, lest they attract attention to themselves which would amount to an unholy act worthy of prolonged self-flagellation (at a time and location of their choosing).

    As with all things, how one perceives something is entirely subjective, with the experiences that influence and enforce said subjectiveness, being the culmination of everything that you have sensed throughout your life and the success or not you have had with your previous perceptions of any given situations.

    My perception of the word ‘weird’, coalesced and refined throughout my life, has only positive connotations. I like weird. Weird to me is eccentricity, deliberately or otherwise veering away from what would be perceived as a normal course of action, spontaneous and ad hoc actions and thoughts (some best kept to yourself but most not) manifest in a way that cares little for convention or acceptance and most importantly embracing the fact that for yourself, this is the case.

    What a dreadfully boring and hideously onerous obligation life would be without non-conformity and a willingness to go outside one’s and other’s comfort zones. I expect
    to hear no more silliness about how others think of you. I tell Machlon and Olympia that there is no opinion of themselves more important to them than their own. I would proffer this very small piece of loving intention to you. There is no other human being like you on the planet. If you think about that, it’s an amazing thing and the fact that you fall into the nonconformist camp makes you a very special breed of human being.

    I love weird. I love different, I love spontaneity and I particularly have a fondness for people who are thought provoking and walk on the edge (Quality pair of shoes compulsory of course). I wish I had more time to chat when we were there, but alas, this will have to wait until next time.

    Anna, keep doing what you are doing, don’t you dare change a thing. Maybe this will help put it in perspective. If I was stuck on a desert island and could only invite a certain number of people, you would be one of them. It may be you would also have to be the washer upper, but don’t let that detract from the intention.

    Enjoy your writing, mothering, wifeing (is that a word?) and your eccentricity. There are many people out there who are thankful for people like you as the thought of the world as a homogenised, human wasteland, sadly becomes a looming reality as the sheep flock grows ever larger.

    Like

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