Weird: The Power of Being an Outsider in an Insider World by Olga Khazan

4. The Sting

  • Lonelyness seems to be a real disease. Lonely people have more heart attacks, have worse cancer outcomes, and are more likely to develop dementia. It’s like the immune system knows something is wrong and ends up fighting ordinary bacteria and that process causes inflammation. For blacks, it’s worse as they also confront racism. The same things happen to people with gender issues (LGBTQ). They often face rejection and discrimination as well. The high suicide rate among transexuals is a testament to this disorder. There are several stories here about such people.

Part Two: The Weird Advantage

5. Creativity

  • One key to being weird and successful is perceiving your weirdness as a strength. Having this “independent self-concept” amounts to choosing your attitude and seeing threats as challenges. It’s thinking that I’m different therefore I’m special. Intelligent people seem to be better able to do this. Olga’s interviews for this book support the connection between being different and being innovative. Being bicultural also promotes original thinking. If you aren’t concerned with what the in-crowd is thinking you have more room to experiment. This is also an argument for the value of traveling to experience different cultures first hand. Teams with dissenting opinions tend to come up with more innovative solutions. People tend to scrutinize a minority opinion more carefully. On the other hand, too much weirdness isn’t likely to be productive.

6. Truth

  • If you are different in any way you are more likely to stand out. Ideally, what makes you odd will seem charming. Being normal has its downsides as nonconformists report more success and satisfaction in dating. Here we get stories about one of the first couples to meet and ultimately marry via an online dating site. They felt stigmatized as meeting online wasn’t “normal.” We also meet a survivor of the Jonestown cult who got out just in time by listening to her inner voice that told her the cult was wrong. Bad people like Jones and Hitler can take our human desire for love and kinship and turn it against us. You need your inner moral sense to tell you that something isn’t quite right. A former Mormon missionary entered the police academy and quit because it seemed cult-like to him. If you remain unique for the most part, you will free yourself from being an imposter and the social anxiety that goes with it.

Part Three: How to be Different

7. Getting Support

  • Norm breaking can come with a cost, which is why weirdos often rely on a network of friends and family for support. Here we meet another kind of weirdo. She is a <choice mom. They are women who chose to have a child without a husband. They get sperm from someone and do invitro fertilization prior to becoming pregnant and birthing their child. Needless to say, they need a support network to pull this off. Faith can be a source of support if you believe in God. If not, science might help you as well. The concept of the threshold enters here. It is the threshold number of nonconformists you need to experience before you join in.
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