Your Strangeness is Your Strength

There’s usually one question that we get all the time. For the cellist hauling her instrument, it’s, “don’t you wish you played the piccolo?”

For the tall man, it’s, “how’s the weather up there?”

That question gets really annoying, really quickly. The angry responses don’t make sense to the innocent questioner, who was just making a joke. They don’t realize that they’ve rubbed an already sore spot again, and we hold them accountable for all the crimes against our strangeness we’ve heretofore encountered. We alleviate these conversations through well-practiced one-liners, or half-truths, just to move on and not talk about it.

The general populace doesn’t care about the hard-won pride we earned through struggle. There’s no room in small talk for big ideas. We come up with snappy one-line responses to deflect or guide the conversation away from our own strangeness. In the course of this repeated exchange, day after day, year after year, we forget that our strangeness is a valuable tool. What makes us strange, what makes us stand out, may be the key to our destiny.

Captain Awkward posted a blog about the low-mood cycle, and how to break away from it. The most eye-opening part, for me, was that if you’re not around people who support you, get the hell out of there.

Heigh-ho-the-derry-o, get the hell out of there.

Think of that question you get all the time. Maybe it’s about your ethnic background, or the shape of your nose, or the fact that you’re a writer. If you’re made to feel ashamed or embarrassed, you’re in the wrong environment. If you’re made to hide it, you’re in the wrong environment.

The longer you ask yourself to act against your core nature, the dimmer your light becomes. You are an artist. You have the secret power to slip sideways into another reality. No matter how cobwebby the slip-path becomes, you can still get there. Your flame still glows. Follow it.

Yeah, well, artists are a lot like gangsters. They both know that the official version, the one everyone else believes, is a lie.”
– Jocko – Quoted by Russell Banks

The truly great writer does not want to write: he wants the world to be a place in which he can live the life of the imagination. The first quivering word he puts to paper is the word of the wounded angel: pain.
– Henry Miller



“But what is that I don’t even –” “TREASURE IT” Wonderbook, Jeff Van Der Meer


15 thoughts on “Your Strangeness is Your Strength

  1. LillianC

    Love that Henry Miller quote. Yes, strange is good. To my mind, there is no “normal,” but there sure is a lot of “ordinary.”

    1. Setsu Post author

      And a lot of conciliation! It’s a fine line between “the squeaky wheel gets the grease” and “the nail that sticks up gets the hammer.” It’s comforting to do your own thing when we know it’s impossible to please everyone.

  2. REDdog

    Sometimes we miss, maybe dismiss, our own strangeness, can’t see the wood for the trees, sorta. I recently had someone say to me that my hypersensitivity is what makes me an artist…instead of reacting poorly to being called hypersensitive, what I took away from this comment was that I had no idea I was an artist.

    btw, hello.

    1. Setsu Post author

      “Wonderbook” is so pretty. Even if you’re too advanced for it to be helpful as a writing guide, I’d still recommend it.

  3. longchaps2

    YES! So true. I AM different and strange. I reach deep for the courage to hit ‘publish’ when I am done writing each and every blog because they are a piece of myself and I fear rejection. Don’t we all? Awesome blog!

    1. Setsu Post author

      Yes! The more you show your courage, the more others will see it and be inspired too. Keep spreading the love, Susan!


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