I’m a strange collection of parts.
I don’t mean physically; although, you’d not be entirely wrong if you thought of me as a sack of mis-shapen, incongruent limbs through together in same geographical location and fixed together with sticky tape and drawing pins. I mean, in terms of the various aspects of things that I enjoy or which send a buzzing, electrical signal through my body. I suppose, if you conducted the same process of dissection on anyone, you’d find the same broadness of interests and thoughts that inhabit my own flesh and blood…yet somehow, though, I often feel like I’m a bizarre conglomeration of passions and hobbies that don’t often go naturally together, and which I sometimes feel don’t match up with most people that I know.
For instance, I’m a music hound and devour music of all shapes and sizes over a vast array of genres and styles: I have extreme fondness for such diametrically-opposed acts as Cradle of Filth and Ke$ha; chiptune to classical. But then, I’m hugely into movies and cinema, and games of all sizes from digital to tabletop. And then, I’m massively into motorsport: Formula One, touring cars and rallying. And what about the other things that I enjoy, like photography and reading and collecting and eating and and and ? My problem is that I’m literally insane with curiosity about most things in the world, and I have a yet bigger problem in coming to terms with the fact that I cannot do everything.
Thinking about all this sort of makes my brain hurt.
Thinking about all this, though, does make me question how well I ‘fit’ into the world within my arms’ reach, and the people in it. Of course, I have friends that enjoy the same things that I do; at least, aspects of the same things that I do – I have some friends with which I share musical interests; others with which I share passion for motor racing, and others that I discuss cinema and television with at length. Then again, I have friends with which I share very few interests, but get on with very well because we’re similar people or share mutual sense(s) or humour(s). But when I’m meeting new people – particularly those that I would like to make friends with because I respect or are attracted to them – I often feel like I’m an aloof, nervous weirdo that has little in common with Joe or Janet Everyperson.
When people ask me what I do for a living, invariably they respond with something like “Woah, that’s really cool!” and are impressed when I explain that I have a Ph.D in something so awesome as ‘space stuff’. I’m often embarrassed to tell people what I do, in case it makes them build up a picture of ‘me’ that isn’t accurate; that I’m some high-functioning android that’s super-intelligent, or that I am actually a character from The Big Bang Theory. I’m just a regular guy that got lucky with genes and opportunities; not someone that was always built for success. I want people to like me for me, not just for being impressed by the letters after my name or for the career that I’ve lucked into. In any case, I tend to find that other people’s lives and careers are far more interesting than my own, even if my day job is essentially building spaceships for a living.
I get it – I’m a geek. The hobbies that I tend to have the strongest passion(s) for are those that perhaps aren’t the most common or accepted among twenty-something lads and lasses: sure, everyone likes music but most people won’t have heard of the kind of bands I like; there’s no-one these days that doesn’t play video games to some extent, but the ones I enjoy are the more aloof, artful, interesting ones with complex storylines or mechanics and not Call of Duty or Angry Birds. It’s not like I chose to ignore the mainstream: I’m quite happy with many things in the mainstream and don’t feel any urge to condescend on anything that’s socially popular; I just like to appreciate the things outside of it as well.
In short: yes, I enjoy the cinematic works of Sidney Lumet, Akira Kurosawa and Werner Herzog, but I also like watching Clerks II and Dumb and Dumber and Transformers.
The end result, though, is that I feel like I need to try too hard in order to demonstrate the existence of a connection between myself and others, and tend to get disheartened when there’s not an overlap. Perhaps that’s because I feel slightly ashamed that I’m slightly different and have my own, unique interests and ideas; perhaps because I’ve always been on the outside of popular friend groups and have therefore always felt that I was at fault, or that there was something wrong with me. Hence, I’m always nervous and quiet around new people because I assume that they’re going to be judging me and rating me and marking me according to some list of mythical criteria that governs whether they will let me be their friend or not. Invariably they are not (because, in general, People™ are not so fickle) and, in actual fact, would probably prefer that I emerge from my chrysalis in order to reveal the beautiful butterfly that lies beneath.
SPOILERS: I am not a beautiful butterfly, but thanks for asking.
The reality is: I’m far too much of a gangly, awkward, over-analysing bundle of wires to ever truly relax in front of anyone that’s not already an established, close friend that won’t misinterpret my weird sense of humour or judge me for my unconventional interests and facets. Despite all this, I’m a far more confident, ballistic person than I ever used to be and I imagine my trajectory in this manner will, evermore, continue climbing; even if there are often fluctuations about the mean, and that I may never truly reach the summit. But I’ll keep trying, keep evolving, and maybe one day I’ll be comfortable in my own, weird skin. Maybe.
So, dear friends: yes, I’m a weirdo. But if you’ll let me, I’ll be your weirdo.