If you’re like me (and I assume everyone in the universe is the exact same as me, since you’re all just a manifestation of my creative genius) everyone is exactly the same level of awesome. For those of you who don’t comprehend this immediately, let me make a mathematical equation that explains this theory:
Pretty sure that’s a mathematical proof that all people are an infinity of awesome. If I’m wrong, I don’t want to know about it.
You see, I have a peculiar set of beliefs about people which allow me to like just about everyone, even if they are being sucky to me.
- Everyone is awesome, but sometimes I don’t know what that reason is.
- Despite all our cultural, racial, and intellectual differences, we all kind of just want the same things: love, knowledge, and donuts.
- Most of the time, a person’s cruddy behavior is not about me. And even when it IS about me, it’s not often REALLY about me.
- We are connected in a circle, in a hoop that never ends. (Yeah, it’s from Pocahontas, but me and Menken really get each other)
So, now for practical usage. How do these concepts affect my ability to love a weirdo?
We must clarify the word “weirdo” in order that we’re all on the same page.
Weirdo: One whose social behavior, personal hygiene, or attraction for My Little Ponies strays outside the acceptable range of “normal.” Often found sitting alone at lunchtimes, talking to self on the streets, or hanging uncomfortably at the edge of activities as if they’d like to join in but have no idea how.
I must disclose at this time that one of the main reasons why I can love weirdos so easily is that—you guessed my hidden secret—I have also been a weirdo at many points of my life. I have shrouded my weirdo-ness in a lot of good learned behaviors (for example, I no longer break out into musical theater routines whenever I am in a crowded, enclosed space and have a captive audience), but the weirdo is still there, trying to get strangers to laugh at me.
Okay, so. How do you love someone who is different?
There are a few basic rules on how to do this, and none of them are super-easy. But I must tell you right now, loving a weirdo is a feat that can be accomplished by even the most mild-mannered Clark Kent, and can turn you into some special weirdo’s personal Superman.
1. Stop judging people. That’s it.
The main reason that weirdos don’t have friends is because they are outside of the norm. There are a lot of normies that feel uncomfortable with anything unusual. They want a simple, normal life with simple, normal problems. They think, “If I try to talk to that person who smells bad, what will people think of me? Will they make fun of me by association? Will I automatically be a weirdo for life? Will I get married? WILL I DIE ALONE?????”
Normies—do you mind if I call you that? Good. I thought not.
Normies, it’s all okay, boo. You’re gonna be fine. Reaching out beyond your “safe space” and making small, innocuous conversation with someone that your friends don’t like is OKAY. Will it destroy your world? Nah. And if, for some insane reason it did? Your world sucks, mmm-kay? Time for a better one.
2. Find common ground.
We are all human, which means we all want the same things (I think I already mentioned donuts, right? I feel like I don’t talk about donuts nearly enough). That means, no matter what your differences with the weirdo you’re sitting next to on the bus, or politely ignoring in Biology, you all have one thing in common:
No, wait! Hear me out.
Despite everything we don’t have in common, there are some things we do. In English, I would teach my students that these were called “Universal Truths.” These are things that are the same for all people everywhere.
A universal truth is something that extends far beyond age and race. Let’s say you are paired up with the weirdo to do your Biology project. If you let them talk your ear off about how Rainbow Dash is way better than Princess Starshine Moonburp, you’re probably going to stick that frog-scalpel right through your temple. So, instead, remember that you are a human and so are they. Here’s an example of how to derail this conversation.
Weirdo: So, in episode 49, Rainbow Dash did this super-cool thing—
Normie: You seem like you like her. What exactly is so cool about Rainbow Dash?
W: Well, she’s smart, she can think on her feet—
N: Are you like that? There must be a reason why you connect with her so much?
At this point, our Weirdo has to stop. This is a concept they have never really articulated before. Also, they are a little nervous. They don’t know if you’re going to use this information to hurt them, or if you are genuinely interested in learning about them and being their friend. This is when you decide whether or not you’re going to be a dick.
Decide not to be a dick. DON’T TALK ABOUT THIS CONVERSATION TO YOUR LAME FRIENDS. Let the weirdo be safe with you. You’ll also need to say this.
N: Don’t worry. I’m just wondering. I’m not going to tell my dork friends. I’m just interested in what you think.
The weirdo is a little skeptical, but will give you a slightly honest answer. If you are kind, wise, and honest about not telling your other normie friends about what they say, they will open up and you’ll actually get to see who they are. And, if you’re looking for ways to connect with them, you’ll find them.
3. Invest your time, talents, and energy into someone who needs you. It will pay off.
Connecting with people who are outside the norm isn’t easy. There are a lot of people who think it will drag them down, “take their lives in the wrong direction,” or similar hogwash. Let me make this nice and safe for you.
Helping someone will not hurt you.
Loving someone will not damage you.
Connecting with someone will not alienate you.
Now, this is not always the case. Anyone who has ever had their heart broken will argue. Anyone who has lost their clique because they made the wrong friend will want to leave a nasty comment.
I get it, you guys. Sometimes doing the right thing has crazy consequences. So, here’s the last bit of knowledge I can give you.
When you invest in a friendship with someone who needs your love, you are investing in a belief that doing the right thing for the right reason makes the universe a better place. This is a faith in a universe that always repays a kindness, though not always in the way you imagine. It requires that you are strong enough to stand up for what you think is right no matter what happens or who doesn’t like it.
I challenge you to reach outside of yourselves this week. Find the person who is shuffling home from school by themselves, and ask to walk them home. Talk to the guy who everyone else at your office is avoiding because he’s “such a talker.” Make the new mom at your book club feel like she’s got a friend.
It’s an investment, but I guarantee you’ll never regret making the universe a happier, more loving place.