Stay weird, brave heart
This is a letter to my Lily.
I was at a party on Sunday and a little 10-year old walked up to me and said, “I’m weird.” She wasn’t speaking about me but rather herself. What followed surprised me, “But I like it. I’m proud that I’m weird." Suddenly I was transported to 10-year old me. It should come as no surprise that I am ridiculously weird. And I like it. This kid was my spirit animal.
For as long as I can remember, there has been this emergence of the ‘mean girl’ - those who ridicule you for every decision. I don’t understand why kids being hurtful makes them “popular”. It’s a sad human truth. I get angry because womxn, we are incredible beings. We’re nurturing, we’re problem solvers, we’re strong. When I became a mother, my goal was to raise independent, confident and kind girls who would always be themselves, no matter what. But as the age of girls who say, “You can’t sit with us” gets younger and younger, it’s becoming increasingly difficult for little impressionable girls to remain themselves.
My dad was always unapologetically himself, a “weirdo” by every definition. At my first school parent teacher meeting, he had just come back from a business trip and arrived fully clothed in the spoils from his travels – skinny jeans, ski boots and a Mauritian Filù Hat. He would sing out loud for no reason, he wore green suits with green shades and green shoes. He would have dance routines at staff parties. He would enter director meetings without warning and tell them to greet his kid. His wardrobe was shared by one other person, the Nik Naks man. The thing is, everywhere he went, people adored him! Years after he left his company, he was still invited back to staff parties. In my early twenties, I went as his “date”. By then I had embraced his “weirdness” and was sort of proud of this jester breaking plates and singing along to Greek music he didn’t know the lyrics to. He was always just in control of his happiness. But there’s one thing I wish he had told me and that is: “Kim, stay weird.”
Like I said, I was a weird kid. It’s the “curse” of the creative soul, the daydreamers, the ones who drift in and out of boring lectures and meetings. I read that we’re all actually born creative, I suppose it’s an essential human trait, vital to evolution – to keep creating and evolving. But somehow the school’s system drains it out of us. So to the creative souls – f*cking kudos, you beat the system! I had a pair of harem pants that I wore every single Saturday. I called them my Bruce Lee pants. I was a skinny kid so could fit into them well into high school. When my cousin asked when I was going to stop wearing them I said, “Hell no! I love ‘em. And I’m gonna keep wearing ‘em.” I didn’t want to be like everyone else, everyone who liked the same things others did, who smoked behind the tennis courts and made out with boys who treated them badly. I simply liked being different.
Lily, after your surgery I became such an overprotective parent. I liberally applied Bio-Oil to your scar as if this magic potion could erase this horror from our lives. I wanted you not to be singled out or for people to one day ask you questions about it. But one day after your bath, I asked myself, “Kim, what the F are you doing? You are erasing the thing that will one day tell her, “You’re a bad-ass. And you have been a bad-ass since you were 3 months old! So I stopped.
With your autism diagnosis, I knew that you’d be different, that you’ll see the world differently, that you’ll act differently, speak differently, like different things and be seen as different. Even taking your diagnosis out of the equation, I know that you would’ve been different, anyway. You’re such a creative, funny soul. An analyst of any or all things. You’re loved everywhere you go and you have the cool nonchalance of Jimi Hendrix.
I’ve never wanted you to be what the world calls “normal”. Because what’s so great about it? It’s boring AF. Normal people being don’t lead, they follow. They don’t innovate but remain in safe bubbles, ticking off every mundane box the world requires of them. “Normal” people don’t live up to their potential. They don’t move an inch from their comfort zones and soldier on khaki clad, folder in hand. Nothing great comes from… “normal”.
But the weirdos? Weirdos create. And change. And shift. And fight. And revolt. And challenge. And invent. And question. And learn. And do. They’re the poets, the creators, the visionaries, the thinkers, the movers and shakers. The ones who refuse to conform. They’re not happy with coasting along.
Not one soul who did amazing things on this planet was normal.
Don’t tell me Einstein was normal. Rosa Parks. Anne Frank. The Wright Brothers. Maya Angelou. Jobs. Bach. Dali. Pollock. Da Vinci. Van Gogh. Shuttleworth. Viola Davis. Madam Curie. Tubman. Margaret Knight. Katherine Johnson. Jackson – Michael and Shirley. Byron. Keats. Renoir. Warhol. Keller. Edison. Poe. Balzac. Tesla. Musk. Don’t tell me they were or are normal.
This world can be a mean place. It can beat you into submission and try to strip away everything that’s great about you, slowly and in increments. But if you can hold on for a little while, and maintain your fighting spirit, you’ll realise just how wonderful your uniqueness is.
One day you’ll probably read this on a machine created by a weirdo. And this campaign will probably still be spoken about:
“Here’s to the crazy ones.
The misfits, The rebels. The troublemakers.
The round pegs in square holes.
The ones who see things differently.
They’re not fond of the rules.
And they have no respect for the status quo.
You can quote them, disagree with them, glorify or vilify them.
About the only thing you can’t do is ignore them.
Because they change things.
They push the human race forward.
And while some may see them as the crazy ones, we see genius.
Because the people who are crazy enough to think they can change the world, are the ones who do.”
So to my Lily and every little different boy and girl, stay weird, brave heart. Please.
Those who change the world are anything but “normal”.