Surprising benefits to how being your authentic, weird self can help you – on the job, and in life.

My profile picture is a lie.

Well, it really IS me (about 10 months ago, after a haircut and blowout). But my preferred social media personas are any array of female superheroes, mythical creatures, and random kooks from the 80’s. Not necessarily in that order.

Alas, professional etiquette doesn’t allow for such bizarre deviations from normalcy (and the truth is that I’m pretty good at keeping up a socially acceptable façade).

If Graham Moore’s Oscar speech moved you the way it moved the rest of America, you’re probably a weirdo too. And you’ve probably spent a fair amount of time suppressing your weirdness like I have.

Yet how many times have you heard people say, “be yourself”?  And how many times have you inwardly rolled your eyes? We weirdos know not to succumb to those well-meaning words of wisdom because

  • People won’t take us seriously
  • People won’t like us
  • Someone will call the cops (or the men in white coats) on us

We suppress our weirdness for acceptance, of course, exhausting, though it is. But folks, there are those like-minded eccentrics who don’t mind our kookiness! And then there are those much-less-weird people (homage to my own significant other) who grow to love and accept us the way we are.

Here are some surprising benefits I’ve found to unleashing my weirdness:

  • Notoriety.  Weirdness, by definition, is a deviation from the norm.  Therefore, whatever is unique about you will become your defining trait.
  • Appreciation.  Remember that quote, “Those who mind don’t matter; those who matter don’t mind”?  Weirdness has a way of commanding attention and respect.
  • Less competition.  Think of weirdness as a commodity.  Sometimes, being offbeat is fresh and new, and just what’s needed. For job seekers, for example, it’s becoming harder and harder to differentiate your “brand.” The essence in doing so lies in being different.
  • You could make a career out of it.  Think Marilyn Manson, Salvador Dali, Lady Gaga, Dennis Rodman, Rebel Wilson, Bjork, Oscar Wilde…
  • Small talk.  Weirdness done “right” (that is, honestly and constructively) is captivating, not creepy.  Besides, it makes life less boring!

My weird friends:  there are others like us! Let’s not miss another opportunity to meet them because we’re hiding!