We live in a society that wants us to fit into nice, neat categories. Categories make life simpler for controlling people. Set up a category, claim your adherents, throw stones at the other categories! Just look at the Mummy wars that rage online … Breast vs Bottle fed, Organic vs leftover Maccas chips on the floor of the mini-van! Or, more broadly, Normal vs Weird, Left vs Right, Conservative vs Progressive, Male vs Female.
Life is so much “simpler” when you can manufacture an identity that is made up of a set of dogmatic ideas. Same vs Different. Us vs Them. As a society, we don’t know how (or whether) to deal with people until we’ve got them pegged into their categories. Once we do though, we very quickly (and permanently) write them off or accept them into the fold.
This is not how life is meant to be!
In our family, we’ve tried not to allow ourselves to be defined by these polarising categories – which makes us weird. Yes, I realise the irony of creating another category here, another Us vs Them, bear with me though. Weird has a bad name. Weird has been used to “Other” people, but I am reclaiming Weird. When my kids complain about being Weird or use the word on someone else – my response is always the same: Weird is a side-effect of Awesome. Without Weird, there’s no change. Things don’t get better. It’s very simple, if you are doing all the same things that everyone else is doing, everything keeps happening the way it always has. Embracing our Weird unleashes our super-power.
What about closer to home? What women do you know that have embraced their weird, and are now leading change in their community? Who do you know who doesn’t just do what everyone else does but instead looks for unique perspectives and solutions? There are amazing people out there who are choosing to fight for things to be better by embracing their authentic selves.
Mish Pope, from The Hustle Detox, shared a quote from Shauna Niequist on her social media the other day. Then a little while later that same day I read the same quote on the page of my beautiful editor, Em Hazledean. Ironically, we had written our last blog post, YOU are the Pot of Gold the week before, and had just published it. The quote said this-
“Branding is for products. Also for cattle. People – even artists – aren’t products. You may make things, but you aren’t a thing. Resist the temptation to climb into a perfectly-crafted brand identity. Instead, practice claiming your whole self- your wild, weird, ever-changing, ever-learning, mistake-making, beautiful/ awful whole self, something so much more powerful and honest than a brand.”- Shauna Neiquist
I love how ideas will fall across multiple people at the same time and place. Mrs Neiquist is so right! We aren’t cattle. The purpose of a “Brand” should be to authentically communicate the person or business behind the brand. The disconnect happens when what we are presenting isn’t in alignment with the truth. Unfortunately, social media can fan the flame of inauthenticity because it is so easy to only present our perfectly curated self.
We fall into this Sameness Trap when we present ourselves as Business Owners or Brands in perfectly curated boxes of perfection. We choose to just fit in with the categories – little socially acceptable bite-sized morsels – and not stand out. When we embrace our Weird, not only are we able to live our lives more authentically, but we are much more likely to draw the people that are truly aligned to us. If we, or our “Brand”, just looks the same as everyone else, or doesn’t really represent who we are authentically, we get lost in the flood of same-ness. Let’s seek to embrace our Weird, to unleash our Super-Power!