May 28th, 2017

It's Normal to be Weird

byMic Manaras

I spent the better part of my life believing I was a little odd, believing the way I thought wasn’t normal. I remember being a bright-eyed kid with sweet naivety, but I also thoroughly remember every time I overtly expressed any form of innocent, child-like enthusiasm, it was met with disdain and bitterness from my peers, even in the second grade. After growing tired of the constant negativity I seemed to be inviting, I accepted the fact I should probably keep my mouth shut and figured I’d just lay under the radar, go unnoticed and avoid any type of unnecessary confrontation.

Fast forward to high school I was now a skateboarder/band guy, not particularly amazing at either, but a quiet introvert nevertheless. The cool kids would meet up every weekend, cycling hangout locations from one hip household to another. They’d always come back on Mondays with an unbelievable highlight reel; it all sounded like so much fun but I knew I was different and just something I’d never be a part of. Anyway I had a small, tight-knit group of friends and we were perfectly content being weird on the sidelines.

It was only when I got a little older, when I got a job and I had a little bit of money in my pocket did things change. I was tempted to give it a shot and I ventured off into the world of cool; classy restaurants and swanky clubs; big hand shakes and even bigger hugs with the who’s who. From about 25 to 27 I was on the radar, out and about and part of the coolest of the cool, never missed an event, never skipped a beat; I had officially infiltrated “the clique”.

Gone were weekends at home; gone were dreams of world tours; gone were movie nights and ice cream. I now had no time for any of that boring, loser stuff. I was the man.

It was the most hollow I ever felt.

It wasn’t long until the initial dopamine rush of this new world had worn off, and I was starving. No amount of events or vacations or meaningless interactions could fill the void. I was angry, I was spending more than I had both literally and figuratively, I was living an entire existence trying to keep up with the world I had immersed myself in. It was destructive.

But how could this be? I was part of the clique, shouldn’t I be happy? Wasn’t I living the dream?

Apparently not, apparently I was much more content having deep conversations with my friends about other dimensions and watching Back to the Future on repeat.

All jokes aside, those years of the highlife gave me perspective and confidence; I now knew I could never be part of the clique, not because I wasn’t worthy of it or I was a weirdo, but because it lacked depth; it was just a show and it could never appeal to me. It sparked the question “Am I crazy? Or are there a lot more people out there just like me?” Since I’d been on both sides, what were the odds people on either side could relate to my thoughts? I knew I couldn’t be alone and I had to confirm my hypothesis, and I now had the confidence to go out and see for myself.

When I was at coffee shops or work conventions, or restaurants, whatever setting really, I’d ease my way into strangers’ conversations about the big game or the political piñata of the day and throw in off-centre remarks, straight from the hip, just to see how the table reacted. I caught people off guard, but to my surprise we’d veer off into conversations about fulfillment and overconsumption, about following our true calling. What? Was this just a fluke? The more I did this type of thing the more I found people to be extremely receptive to meaningful conversations about topics true to their hearts, true to my heart.

And so I decided to start a blog to expand on exactly that. Are my thoughts so wise or cutting edge? I really don’t think so, but I’m putting them out there because I do think the more people hear their inner thoughts through someone else’s voice, the more comfort they might feel in knowing they’re actually very normal. To my delight, a lot of the people I grew up with on both sides of the cool meter have expressed how they could relate wholeheartedly, and that’s the best feeling in the world.

Those early years in grade school, were the other kids so mean because I was crazy or were they scared because they felt just like me? Perhaps the fear of being exposed as “not normal”  led them to express that negativity as a front. Regardless of why, my time alone led me on a very creative path I’m forever grateful for.

What is normal? In my opinion, the idea of normal is nothing but an illusion, and I was fooled into thinking I didn’t belong when in fact being my own weird self was actually the most normal, healthy thing I could be. I’m starting to see there really are a lot of us out there, and that’s a good thing!

Stay weird.

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