My favorite advice to give people, especially young people, is "embrace your weirdness". I’m not suggesting you necessarily rock up to a job interview with blue lipstick, though in certain contexts that could work. More, I am suggesting that you do all those things you feel drawn to doing without first calculating whether it’s normal. Normal is boring. In a cluttered and crowded world ‘normal’ will not help you stand out.
Baking, sewing clothes, learning languages, vlogging, doing makeup, being an utter nerd for skin-care, macramé, embroidery, nutrition - these interests, and so many more, have built empires. Whether it’s YouTube 8 year olds making a cool US$22million (Ryan’s Toys) or Nancy Silverton who built a career from her utter obsession with baking bread (detailed in the Netflix show Chef’s Table (Season 3, Episode 3).
Marie Kondo has built an empire as the organizing guru and even within that not-normal niche she is a standout one-of-a-kind. She ‘greets’ the house, she doesn’t speak fluent English (despite the US being her target market) and she has a unique quietness for a tv-personality. It is her uniqueness which has catapulted her into popular culture and made her audience fall in love with her.
Steve Jobs was also a beautiful weirdo. Less beautiful, more weirdo. Walter Isaacson’s biography of Steve Jobs tells the story of Job’s fascination with calligraphy after he dropped out of Reed College. His random interest in calligraphy lead to a latter life insistence that designed fonts were included in the first Mac released by Apple. This seemingly weird decision inadvertently started the word processing boom and in the process cemented the early adoption of computers as many publishers saw the advantages over traditional manual typesetting. It was a small, weird feature that was market-creating.
As we travel through life we all collect random items, fascinations and loves that form us into unique, flawed and hopefully - if we are really lucky - utterly weird individuals. It is our individuality that becomes our greatest strength.
Are you a financial whizz who becomes obsessed with fresh-pressed juice, a lawyer that finds solace and reprieve in yoga, a software programmer who revels in building computers. All of these were the beginnings of magical squiggly stories. People who stepped out of the confines of their linear world, embracing their weirdness and allowing something radically new to be born.
Color outside the lines, get your freak on and be the biggest, boldest and bravest version of yourself that you can be. History will tell the stories of the rule-breakers and the weirdos.