Remember that girl in school who dressed a bit “weird”? She was goth long before goth became a trend.
Or that guy in the office who never seemed to fit in? He may have been labeled “odd”.
I remember when someone who was covered in tattoos made heads turn, unacceptable? I know someone in law school who tattooed her entire thigh. Her tattoo was beautiful, it was creative, it is a form of expression and maybe even a bit quirky. I’m guessing most “professional” company handbooks still ban visible tattoos.
Quirky is the new cool.
Being offbeat or a square peg is personal expression, and it’s far more acceptable than ever before, in fact its an advantage in today’s world.
The square pegs, the creative, those that think a little differently, they are the innovators with BIG IDEAS.
Some of the quirkiest people I know are also smartest people I know. They may not have been “coolest” or part of the in-crowd in high school (but then again neither was I).
I guess you could say they were the class nerds and many of those “nerds” went on to do great things! They started companies, created new forms of art and challenged the status quo. Taking things that they thought were merely the visions of science fiction writers and making them real. I once envied the Jetsons for all the cool gadgetry they had. Now, that’s mainstream. Yeah, George, I can video conference on my watch, too!
In the 2016 Summer Olympics, Michael Phelps extended his record-setting streak of winning gold medals for swimming. Look at this guy. He’s quirky. His mother started him in swimming when he was a little boy, because Michael struggled with ADHD and she needed a way for him to work off that excess energy. Way to go, Mom!
The irascible Steve Jobs was known for many quirky behaviors:
- The Apple CEO was famously weird about his eating habits and once reportedly ate so many carrots in such a short time period that his skin turned a vibrant orange. He would often eat only one kind of food for weeks and lecture his friends and family about the virtues of his current diet, only to abandon it for another obsession shortly afterward.
- Jobs had difficulty functioning in a traditional classroom, tended to resist authority figures, frequently misbehaved, played pranks, and was suspended a few times.
- When he was 13, Jobs was given a summer job by Bill Hewlett (of Hewlett Packard) after he cold-called him to ask for parts for an electronics project.
- “His father introduced him to Heathkits a kid, which fascinated him: ‘[They] would come with these detailed manuals about how to put this thing together and all the parts would be laid out in a certain way and color coded. You’d actually build this thing yourself.’”
- The New York Times recently revealed that Steve has 313 patents to his name. To give you some perspective, out of his peers Bill Gates holds about 9 and the Google boys have roughly a dozen between them. They weren’t all tech related, however, as he even had one for a glass staircase.
- “I would trade all of my technology for an afternoon with Socrates.”
When Jobs’s Apple introduced the iPod, I remember the ads – dancing by yourself to music; no one else could hear the shift from quirky to cool. But he did!
Bill Gates was the consummate nerd:
- He read the entire World Book Encyclopedia set at age 8.
- At 11-years-old, he recited the approximately 2,000-word “Sermon on the Mount” from the Book of Matthew with zero errors–a challenge from Reverend Dale Turner during his church confirmation class.
- He reads about fifty books per year (Reference link)
- His parents had to institute a rule: no books at the dinner table. (Reference link)
- He does the dishes every night. “Other people volunteer, but I like the way I do it.”
- He’s not big into video games. (Reference link)
Quirkiness isn’t merely for show.
Those people who are genuinely dancing to the beat of a different drummer are creative types seeking a way to express themselves. Innovation is the result.
Sometimes, it works. Sometimes, it fails. But without the outside-of-the-box thinkers, the people who laugh at the way it has always been done, and individuals who don’t believe in limits, we would be living in a stagnant world.