You’re Not Weird, You’re Art

How often do we find ourselves trying to fit in and conform to society’s version of “acceptable” and “normal”? In today’s world, pressures of society and popular culture trends try hard to push people firmly into boxes with labels.

We find ourselves struggling to become friends with the “cool” kids and living superficial lives that deep down, we are not comfortable with because these associations do not allow us to express our true selves as we would like. We spend a large amount of time trying to fit in and gain acceptance; square pegs squeezing into round holes and losing important parts of our character in the process. Remember the warm-spirited high school kids who changed to become spiteful and shallow just to fit in with the popular kids, rather than staying true to their own personalities?

Now, viral, social media dictated behavior is making it even more difficult to maintain individualism, as the challenges for coolness and popularity become increasingly absurd. Sensitive issues become trivial jokes, people fake serious mental illnesses and invent childhood/family trauma all in the bid for attention.

Oyo State, Nigeria.
Image by Niyi Okeowo.

When pleasing other people becomes the mission, our unique inherent features are suppressed; we mold ourselves to the standards of our surroundings while ignoring the beauty within.

So what happens to those who do not “fit in”? Does society ignore those who cannot be placed into boxes? Or do we just toss them into that large trunk for the unwanted? The one labelled “weird”?

An episode of Netflix’s Bojack Horseman resonated me recently; the episode where Todd, in his rare moments of lucidity, tells Bojack what he thinks about labels: how we believe in them so much when they really don’t make room for a lot of us.

Indeed this is the truth; it’s hardly uncommon to meet someone that people think is weird – most of us have been labelled that at some point or the other. Besides leading to inferiority complex issues and an awful lot of social awkwardness, “weird” is simply a social construct – society’s way of addressing what it does not understand.

The beauty of a complex personality; an active mind with the knack for insight and perspective is meant to be accepted for the treasure it is. You’re not weird, you’re art.

 “I’ve noticed that a lot of our youth today don’t know who they are or what they want to be. They’re being forced to be something…” – Tobi

In African societies, we tend to dismiss ideas that we don’t understand or accept. We relegate these ideas to the back and attack those who dare believe or discuss them. We stifle their voices, not caring what this does to them, or us – we hate the discomfort of questioning what we hold dear – tradition.

Image from .jpeg vibe

But all groups are made of individuals; people with a variety of personality traits and opinions, different minds all amazing in their own right. I hope this article reminds us that we are special and not to restrain our thoughts and gifts in order to join the crowd. I hope this article pushes us to have courage to stand out of the crowd, to be bold and stand up for what we believe in and not to let the comfort of public acceptance stop us from espousing our ideals. I hope this article reminds you that you are COOL; the opinions of other people do not change who you are.

Every day, we try to find ourselves and every day, we discover more. We find out that life is not as straightforward as we think and that we are all essentially different. From the way our minds work to the values we hold dear, we are not the same. There is a beauty in each person, peculiar to them that we will not experience if we try to restrict them to fit our ideas of ‘normal’.

You are you. Own it.

Oluchukwu Nwabuikwu

Area 51 exists and I have proof.

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