According to the Cambridge online dictionary, the English definition of “quirk” noun [C] /kwɜrk/ › is an unusual habit or type of behavior, or something that is strange and unexpected:
a personality quirk
It’s just one of the quirks of living there.
quirky /ˈkwɜr·ki/ adjective [-er/-est only]
› a quirky, offbeat sense of humor
According to the Merriam-Webster online dictionary quirky <adjective › means different from the ordinary in a way that causes curiosity or suspicion.
While there are many, many ordinary individuals on this planet there are quite a few with idiosyncrasies, and let’s just say these extraordinary individuals might be considered, well, peculiar. Google breaks down idiosyncrasy and its origin best: Early 17th century (originally in the sense ‘physical constitution peculiar to an individual’): from Greek idiosunkrasia, from idios ‘own, private’ + sun ‘with’ + krasis ‘mixture.’
Although, the word has the same Greek route idios shared by the word idiot, do not mistake an idiot and someone with idiosyncrasies. They are two entirely different words. (Though, that’s not to say that someone with idiosyncrasies can’t behave idiotically from time to time.) If you are ordinary, you may not understand a peculiar specimen. And most of what they do makes very little sense to someone who’s ordinary, because a quirky human is not interested in following along the herd.
An ordinary person might consider sitting around in the nude, airing out all of your private parts in the early morning while drinking very strong coffee to be a wee bit strange. But to Benjamin Franklin, one of our nation’s greatest minds, his “air baths” were nothing more than a regular part of his morning routine.
An ordinary person might consider not bathing for a week and a half or longer to be odd not to mention gross. Steve Jobs, however, found showering once a week at the most to be sufficient enough for his busy, inventive mind.
An ordinary person might consider alcohol or substance abuse as a terrible addiction that calls for a recovery program. But, for many writers – Hemingway (alcohol), Auden (Benzedrine), Graham Greene (Benzedrine), Ayn Rand (Benzedrine), mathematician Paul Erdos (Ritalin and Benzedrine), Kierkegaard (strong black coffee literally over a cup of sugar), and Balzac who drank 50 cups of coffee roughly – their addictions went hand in hand with their creativity.
It’s true, some of these individuals died before their time, so it might be best to choose your vice cautiously and in moderation. Turning to alcohol and substance abuse is not the type of embracing of an alternate path that I mean. There are also just as many things that are meant to be healthy for us that are also just as bad when abused.
Many out of the ordinary individuals that do not ride the wave of conformation decide to sleep until the afternoon and work all night (Charles Bukowski and Thomas Edison are just two of many examples). They may decide to write while blasting Metallica (Stephen King). Other writers choose to have the television on while writing (journalist Ron Rosenbaum), and this is one particularly quirk that I have embraced. I prefer writing amid ambient noise, music, etc. Others, meanwhile, need utter silence to concentrate on a give task. For me, total silence kills my creativity and drives my ADD stir crazy. There are a host of bizarre practices that I am sure can be Googled, way too many to list here.
Okay, maybe you’re a bit strange. Some of us can be, and if the “ordinary” cannot understand, love and embrace your quirks, no matter how bizarre, then that person need not be your friend, partner, lover or spouse. Period. And I say this from experience: People rarely change. If you’re a straight-laced, right-wing conservative and you marry a liberal creative/quirky type, then either embrace each other’s differences or don’t get married. This is how and why break ups and divorces happen, because puppy love blinds people into thinking that what might slightly annoy someone or be different is something that can be manipulated or altered later. If someone changes, and actually wants to, great. Although it is true that people rarely change, it is also true that people can and do better themselves. But, evolution has to come from the individual and not be forced or coerced by someone else.
I tend to be passionate and creative. I can also be very intense, and literally from birth my mother said I have shook. Not epileptic shaking, mind you, but nervous, anxious hands, for example. Let’s just say I’m demonstrative, especially when excited or impassioned about something, like my work.
Mom always kidded me, as did most of my family, that I love to talk. She also warned me that I was too intense for caffeine. But, I usually can’t and will not go a day without a few cups of coffee. Though today (this doesn’t mean I am giving up coffee), I am trying Mediterranean herbal coffee. Caffeine free stuff called teeccino made with organic carob, organic barley, organic chicory, dates, almonds, natural amaretto flavor, and figs. It’s actually pretty good and supposed to be very good for you. Anyhow, my espresso personality doesn’t necessarily need more coffee. But, I enjoy my daily cup or cups. I also do not notice that my hands shake when I become excited. Others will notice and sometimes they point it out. It’s a quirk of mine that I’ve had since I emerged from my mother’s womb.
The doctors and nurses probably thought I was a crack baby (I assure you, I was not.) Nonetheless, I have always been an intense person. I have never ever been the meek, mousy type that can sit quietly undistracted in a library sipping on tea, reading a book. I am naturally high on adrenalin, intense and constantly creating new content. My mind is always going and going. I can work non-stop 24/7 on various creative projects as well as writing assignments and totally have. When I am passionate, work ceases to be work and I can just go on until someone has to remind me to put it away cause I need to sleep. And then I am like, “Oh yeah, I do need to sleep, don’t I?” I get “in the zone” and forget to eat. Not everyone gets to see this side of me, but for those that do simply get that this is “me.”
Get any therapist involved and they’d have a field day trying to diagnose a quirky person. Sometimes, people are just unique and that’s all. Psychological labels only hinder what ought to be set free from the “neat little box” society wants to place everyone in. We all have our little quirks. Others actually live and think “outside of the box” while others are considered eccentric or maybe even a tad bizarre. I guess we can also consider the likes of Lady Gaga and Marilyn Manson a bit unordinary, too. You see, it is our eccentricities that make us who we are; like our fingerprints no one is alike. We are snowflakes.
If someone thinks you’re too weird for their taste, then you need to surround yourself with people that do get you. Differences are the precise things that make us beautiful. It is our quirks that ought to be embraced, our bizarre little idiosyncrasies that makes up our talents, innovations, creations, and gifts we share to the world. For without us oddballs this world would be a very lifeless and stodgy place.