Welcome to the first installment in a series of articles that uses the concept of weirdness as a starting point for exploring the strangeness of being human. As a strategist, I’m curious about what drives our behaviors and the ideas we have about ourselves and the world.
Weird is the starting point I’m using for this exploration because I’m fascinated by the impulse we have to push away things that feel foreign to us, while simultaneously hoping we’re unique and special individuals.
With that being said, I’m also entertaining the idea of letting go of weird as an idea. As much as I identify with and love the idea of weird, it’s still a pejorative label that’s used to point out otherness, to deride, divide, and belittle. Wondering where I’ll end up? Me too! So, come along as I explore and bring you what I find.
Installment 1: Weird Contemplation
Weird may often be derided or feared, but it’s a cornerstone of innovation and an indispensable part of life. Everything innovative is new, and new is by default weird because it hasn’t been experienced yet. So, you can’t experience new without the potential of finding it weird, and by its very definition, you can’t innovate without something being new—hence, weird.
As a lifechanging advertising agency, our strength is founded on our ability to be creative. We can’t be creative, let alone lifechanging, unless we embrace the full diversity of the human condition—weird is simply a part of the human condition.
But then again, what does weird even mean? Everything is weird to one person or another—it’s a relative term. What’s weird to one may not be weird to another. Weird can either be considered as vanishingly rare or astonishingly common, depending on how it’s viewed.
Fig. 1. Weird is Common: Think back to elementary school where everything was weird—we were kids; we had no life experience, so everything was new.
Fig. 2. Weird is Rare: Anyone who went to art school can relate—the more you seek to set yourself apart as an individual, the more you recognize we have more in common than not.
Any way you view it, you stand to gain a lot by opening the door to weird. Here are 5 reasons you should either embrace weird or give up categorizing anything as weird at all:
- You’ll have a larger set of ideas to work with
- Being more open to weird puts you more in touch with yourself
- Being more open gives you the ability to perceive the world in new ways
- You don’t waste precious energy trying to block weird out
- Life is more fun and interesting when you include weird
Overachievers, please head straight past embracing weirdness to allowing your own weirdness out. Your quirks make you loveable, memorable and, most importantly, human.
We’re at our best at CDMP when we are at liberty to be ourselves. That’s when we can be our most fearless as we share our ideas. If we aren’t open to weird, we can’t help people around us to be fearless. It’s natural to self-censor for fear of being perceived as inadequate or odd. When that happens, we stand the chance of missing out on the best ideas.
By Erica Chiao
Senior Vice President, Director of Customer and Brand Strategy