Dear Quirky Dude
Growing up I heard a lot of messages about what it means to be a man. Messages like: Being a man means being strong. Being a man means not having too many emotions. Being a man means being athletic, decisive, and powerful. Being a man means being the flag bearer of normality, because we become the standard for what others consider normal.
All of these messages came at me long before I knew how to deal with them and they all told me the same thing: “If you want to make it to this magical land of manhood, this place of safety and respect, you have to hide.”
And so, that’s what I did. I hid all the parts of myself that didn’t fit into this movie screen tough guy, kill the bad guys, get the girl model of masculinity. If I couldn’t hide them, I mocked them – I learned how to own the joke and none of the power. I learned to apologize for every part of me that didn’t match this image.
I hid them because I knew if I didn’t, I’d be called names like gay or geek or nerd or freak. I hid because if I didn’t, I got shut out of their boys club. The club that got all the girls, all the power, all the things I thought I needed to become a man.
And even though over time I got better at hiding, it never felt like enough. I lived trapped between the pressure to squeeze myself into a mold I didn’t fit into and this feeling of constant failure as my unfittingness was seen again and again.
No matter how hard I tried, I ended up hurt and scared and in a constant state of defending of everything I couldn’t obscure.
This is what it was like for me growing up as a quirky dude and if you’re anything like me maybe it was hard for you too. But as hard as it was, I want you to know (as I blatantly steal from the popular meme) it gets better. You see, all of that crap I endured actually gave me something that other people never got, it gave me the depth, courage, and compassion I needed to escape the traps most people never even notice because they hide so perfectly.
And I’m here to tell you that if you are willing to own your quirk and take on the challenge of becoming who you’ve always secretly known yourself to be, that your life can be more full and rich than you could’ve ever imagined.
It can be a life where you get the woman or man or whatever of your dreams. It can be a life where you feel totally free and scared all at the same time. It can be a life that heals the deepest wounds in you as you use that pain to heal the wounds you see in others.
If you want this kind of life, get to work on it immediately. If you aren’t sure where to start, here is the path I followed. It isn’t the only one, but it’s the one that spoke to my heart and so I offer it to you with the same love and hope that I felt when I started down it years ago.
First, I Got To Know Myself –
Because I hid myself from others for so long I also mastered the art of hiding from myself. For example, I remember so many times where I tried to hide my anger.
The anger I felt when they picked on me. The anger I felt when they made fun of my height, the rat tail haircut I thought was so cool, or any other little quirky part of me that stuck out.
I hid my anger because the anger only brought on more problems. It made them like me even less. It got me in trouble at school. It made me feel awful when I lashed out and hurt those I cared so deeply about.
I can remember a time in elementary school where I grabbed a kid’s hair on the playground and drug him over the pavement. I was so angry and afterwards I felt soooo awful about it. I was ashamed and sad and devastated by my own cruelty.
The more I hurt, the harder I tried to hide my anger and the worse I felt when I failed to do so. I defended myself when I could and punished myself when I couldn’t. I pushed away those that cared and spoke the cruelest words to myself. There were even times when hit myself as hard as I could, hoping the pain would push out all of the guilt I felt inside.
For years, I hid until I finally realized I had to stop. Until I saw how the anger was eating me from the inside and became willing to understand the contours of my anger along with everything else I didn’t want to feel. Over time, I got to know myself through meditation, through long talks with dear friends, and through coaching with amazing coaches.
Even though getting to know myself was scary and hard at times, I found that the more I saw and understood all the parts I wanted so desperately to hide, the more I re-discovered all the amazing parts I thought I’d lost long ago.
Through this process, I learned to come to terms with my past, but more importantly I learned how to shape myself into a future version that was wiser, kinder, and more confident than I ever thought possible. Best of all this new version of me wasn’t some ideal, but was a beautiful mix of my quirkiness and my strength all mixed together.
Next, I Got To Know Other Quirky Men
There’s always been something about the code of guydom that makes me feel like I have to be even more normal around other guys than almost anyone else. And so growing up, I learned to hide my quirk from other men except for maybe a few close friends.
It different with women. I had a bunch of close female friends growing up and they seemed to appreciate getting to know my quirky parts. Maybe it was because of the intimacy it created or maybe it’s just because women are more accepting of complexity, but whatever the reason it felt a lot safer.
I can still remember long conversations with my best friend in middle school where I talked about all the feelings I had and pain I felt. I remember how she comforted me and looked on with understanding eyes. It felt so healing.
The only problem I had was that I would inevitably fall in love with these women which left me with a ton of unrequited feelings, but I’ll get into that in another post.
But as I grew older, I realized something was missing. I saw guys hanging out with other guys and I wanted that too. So I started making it happen. I opened myself up more and more to the men around me. I reached out to guys in my life that I respected and shared who I really was and what I was struggling with. And to be totally honest I was amazed.
While not every guy I reached out to was open to connect, a lot of them were and really all it took was a little bit of time and a willingness to be vulnerable and honest about who I was.
If you want some closer guy friends like I did you can just start by spending some more time with the men in your life. Instead of just going to a game together or watching TV, go out to dinner, spend an afternoon hanging out, or taking a walk somewhere. Guys may take a little longer to open up, but I’ve found when I make the space to hang and open up just a little bit, most other quirky men are willing to share who they are as well.
Over the years, I’ve used these simple steps to build some amazing friendships and the real sense that I’m not alone in my quirk. Now it feels like I have a brotherhood of quirky dudes who get what’s hard about being a guy with a bit of quirk. And all because I overcame my fear and just reached out in some very simple and deliberate ways.
Finally, I Worked On Myself So I Could Meet My Quirky Mate –
When it comes to dating, we all put on a show of putting our best selves forward and hiding what we’d prefer others not to see.
And for a long time in my dating life, I tried to hide myself especially when it came to my true desires. For example I would pretend I didn’t want things I secretly wanted.
For example, I love cuddling, but I wouldn’t ask for it even if I wasn’t getting it enough. Or another thing was that even thought I love to try new things, I’ve dated a bunch of women who would never go on adventures with me. I hid my real desires because I was afraid I’d get rejected if I owned who I was and ask for what I really wanted.
I can remember one time where I asked my girlfriend if she would let me be the little spoon in a spooning arrangement and she replied – “Why? None of my other boyfriends asked me to be the little spoon.” Man that hurt.
It took me a long time to realize why hiding my desires was such a bad idea. I was in relationship after relationship with women were often amazing and still I felt like something was missing.
When I finally realized my mistake I saw why those relationships didn’t work and what was missing.
Deep down I think we all want to be loved, but if you hide who you really are, then who is it that they’re loving? Sure being yourself is scary, but never being truly loved is even scarier. Which is why now I try to show up as myself in all of my relationships, especially the romantic ones.
Right now I’m with someone who’s better than I ever imagined, and the best part of all is that I know it’s the real me she loves, not some version of myself I’m trying to show to her.
Sure I still struggle at times to not put on a show, but if you want to know my secret for finding the woman or man of your dreams, the first thing I would tell you is to learn how to be yourself.
It doesn’t make getting into a relationship easier. In fact, in the short term it might even make it harder, but when you do find that person, it makes it so much more satisfying.
If you’ve got parts of yourself that you think get in the way of attracting a mate, there’s nothing wrong with working to change those things. I’ve done a lot of that over the years, but even as you change some parts of yourself don’t lie about the parts of you that are still unresolved.
It’s those unresolved parts that make you who you are and can actually be the key to creating the kind of trust that deep and meaningful relationships are built on.
Remember I’m not saying this is the only way to be a quirky dude or the only way to grow, but the things in this post have helped me a lot. I’m actually going to be working on a whole bunch of other resources I hope to share with all of you at some point, but until then I want to leave you with this thought.
Being a quirky dude can be amazing!!! Because owning your quirk is the key to being the kind of amazing dude that the world needs. If you look around we’ve got enough self centered buttoned down types. What we need are some quirky dudes who are all of their brilliance, creativity, and quirky ideas to make the world a better place.
So if you’re out there I hope you’ll join me in my quest to own my quirk and to help other dudes do the same. Life is too short to hide forever. I hope to see you, out there in the Quirkdom really soon.
Blog Captain of the SS Quirk Juice
Director Lojo of the Quirkfleet
The Quirk Invasion 7 Day Challenge
Join us for the 7 day Quirk Invasion to explore and celebrate being quirky!
Day 1 :: Love Your Quirks
~> What’s something you struggled with growing up that you love about yourself now?
Respond and share your thoughts via the interwebs!
So we can find you, add the hashtags: #quirkinvasion and #livingquirky!
Not sure what this challenge is all about? Click HERE for more details!