What does weird mean?

I’ve participated in a few Akimbo workshops. There exists an online Akimbo community where people interact with each other. Seth Godin is creating weekly prompts that invites us to share our thoughts.

This week’s prompt particularly intrigued me, probably because I am curious about language: the way we make sense of this world, via using symbols such as words to create meaning.

Here are the two questions Seth asked:
1. Who do you think of as being weird – in your personal life or the bigger world?
2. What does it even mean for someone to be weird?

Here is my answer:

For me the word “weird” means different than the norm, norm being what I primarily perceive around me: people, objects, landscape, patterns of behavior, values…

I believe what most people, including myself, consider to be weird about themselves, when one is taking a closer look, is actually not all too weird, it’s just their perception of themselves. There are a ton of people who act, look, perceive, believe the way they do, it just so happens that they are not close by, therefore a person can seem kind of weird. What comes to my mind is a classmate in secondary school who used to dress so much differently than all my other classmates. Back then I believed he was kind of weird. Now I believe he must have thought the same about us.

I sometimes think of myself to be weird because I e.g. like boardgames a lot. But when I pay a bit more attention to this thought, particularly nowadays when I can, via the internet, easily find the other boardgame “weirdos”, I realise it’s not true. I am actually not that weird at all, it is quite normal. I am me and so are all the others.

The prompt reminded me of the following article by an organisation named The School of Life. You might like their two videos there, too.


Sonder is a noun invented by John Koenig, the person behind the Dictionary of Obscure Sorrows. It stands for the “realisation that each random passerby is living a life as vivid and complex as your own”.

We all have a voice inside of our head, that is constantly speaking, filled with mentations of different sorts.

What if, when we meet a complete stranger, it would be ok to ask the following question: In what ways are you crazy?

Individuality vs. Individualism

Photo by Alice Achterhof on Unsplash

I am currently reading a book by Gordon Neufeld and Gabor Maté named Hold On to Your Kids: Why Parents Need to Matter More Than Peers. The following passage about the difference between Individuality and Individualism, from page 124, struck me as worth sharing:

Individuality is the fruit of the process of becoming a psychologically separate being that culminates in the full flowering of one’s uniqueness. Psychologists call this process differentiation or individuation. To be an individual is to have one’s own meanings, one’s own ideas and boundaries. It is to value one’s own preferences, principles, intentions, perspectives, and goals. It is to stand in a place occupied by no other. Individualism is the philosophy that puts the rights and interests of a person ahead of the rights and interests of the community. Individuality, on the other hand, is the foundation of true community because only authentically mature individuals can fully cooperate in a way that respects and celebrates the uniqueness of others. Ironically, peer orientation may fuel individualism even as it undermines true individuality.”

We would all benefit from more individuality in the world as a prerequisite for respecting each other’s differences, for celebrating them. It would help us live diversity in the best sense of these words.