"Life is short and celebrating who you are by championing your weirdness is pretty groovy once you get the hang of it!" - Traci Ruble
Championing Your Weirdness
by Traci Ruble, Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist
I have always been a little weird. You? As a young girl my family did not understand nor celebrate my intensity. In seventh grade, when the cool football players started picking on the new Chinese kid whose locker was under mine, I stepped in between the football player's fist and his face. I did this sort of thing a lot and it was not cool. I remember at fifteen a friend saying to me "Man your directness is always going to be a pain in the ass for you if this keeps up." As an adult I like others who are unusual, self reflective, emotive and lead unconventional lives. It doesn't win me any popularity contests at the PTA and sometimes that bothers me and other times I am so relieved. You will have to ask my kids how they feel as they age about their experiences of unconventionality although I think they are pretty cool and unconventional themselves. Emotional, direct, exuberant along with dark, intense and intellectual might all be words that begin to describe my weirdness. How would you describe yours? Brave enough to write them in the comments? You know...the ones you commit to champion from this day forward. Do it. You can do it anonymously!
Some people relish in their weirdness and how special it makes them. Truth be told, I always wished I were a little "less weird" and a little more conventional so I didn't have to weather rejection. About once a year I still get caught in a painful trance, a skin shedding moment, of making a "new commitment" to my own unique style of weirdness after several weeks of not being committed to my weirdness - even mean to myself and my way of being in the world. Usually it comes on by the wrong choices I have made to be in a milieu that are anti champions of me and my weirdness. Then I move on, usually shedding a few negative believes, a few old judgements, sometimes a friend or a belief about a friend and I am back to being my confidant weird self that is evolving into new ways of weirdness.
People come to see me in my therapy practice suffering because they have spent a lifetime not championing who they are, their unconventionality, their authenticity, their spirit. You have probably read a lot about the inner critic or the "super ego" as a mean voice that criticizes you inside all the time. Its job is/was essentially to get you to "fit in to the tribe" and look like everyone else so you all could share food. On the one hand it is adaptive, on the other destructive. Deadening ourselves just to "fit in" with whom? We don't have 30 person tribes with no one else for miles around any longer. We have a massive selection of people to befriend now. Glory be! No farming the land with the same people day in and day out...shoot no farming period. You can choose your tribe and vocation!
The more insidious ways I see clients not champion their weirdness, uniqueness, individuality is not this self criticism though. Instead it is by making these choices that keep the old "don't be who you are" story going by choosing the wrong tribe and believing the story the tribe tells that they are unlovable and bad. Have you ever befriended someone you knew in your bones just wasn't a match? They might ridicule the very things you stand for. I had a guy in our community say to me he thought therapy was "BS and so was depression. We should all be able to think our way out of every problem." Note to self, probably not a friend match for me.
What about jobs? Have you ever taken a job because you felt like you should but knew it was a bad match for whatever reason - ethically, spiritually or communally? Ever dated someone because they looked good on paper, not because you loved them or they loved you? Have you had a friend or family member repeatedly express to you directly or indirectly that they don't champion your weirdness but instead judge you or leave you out? Ever noticed you keep showing up for more persecution from these people or situations without either realigning your expectations or choosing not to go back? Going back to dry wells, reaching for that which isn't there is often a repeating of the past. A past that has gone unfelt and needs repeating until it can be felt, grieved and left in the past. Doing this is a non linear grieving process that takes time, willingness to see, an acceptance that in repeating you are attempting to grow up and out of something.
Step into scene: good therapist. Relating to a therapist is one place you can catch yourself in the act of repeating and understand what the missed experience is that is attempting to be felt. Not just understood, I should stay...you can get that from a self help book but "finishing a feeling" from the past. We often repeat when something needs to be felt and grieved and left in the past and that can be scary traversing those underworlds without a good guide to walk with you. A guide who champions your weirdness the whole journey. So you traverse the underworld together AND you get to have your weirdness championed the whole way so you can do it for yourself.
Today I have found other weirdos who are my friends. Once a year I revisit psychological "high school", where I feel compelled to "fit in" with the "wrong crowd" and re-feel unfinished grief from the past, let it go, come back to my core values and the core people in my life who champion me for who I am. For my clients, they catch themselves not quite able to accept that the people around them just can't champion them. "Why me? Why can't they be different? Why me? What can't they be different? What's wrong with me?" We spend months, sometimes years, unravelling slowly these feelings, beliefs and behaviors until a gradual reclamation of self and experience is felt and sustained. These are exciting moments....what a privilege for me and a triumph for them and a dance party for the two of us. If you have found yourself caught...good therapy is a good thing! Life is short and celebrating who you are by championing your weirdness is pretty groovy once you get the hang of it!
In parting I guess I will say - I have been thinking about what my weirdo friends have in common. We aren't exactly alike but as I share what matters to me, maybe you want to do the same and include your list in the comments section too. What are your friendship core values? Mine are;
1. Honest open communication
2. A shared belief that being emotional is a sign of strength
3. Commitment to conflict resolution through not avoiding conflict or sweeping things under the carpet but meeting face to face and sharing exactly what is true for each of us
4. Empathy and listening
5. Prioritizing space for wild and unencumbered play
7. Getting comfortable with the unknown
8. Letting go
10. Emotional Intimacy
I am sure there are more but I am itchin' to hear yours. And yes, my weirdo friends, please reply. I love you all!
Traci Ruble is a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist and a proud of her weirdness. She is the founder of this here weird blog! She practices in the San Francisco Financial District specializing in working with adults - individuals struggling with anxiety and depression and with couples. She also leads online mothers groups. Find out more about Tract at www.traciruble.com or ring her on 415-520-5567.
Labels: Authenticity, good therapy, Traci Ruble, weirdness