According to the Google gods, it means: Characterized by peculiar or unexpected traits: “quirky charm”.
For me, the word quirky has become an indicator (aka, a Shrinkonian flag) for when I’m with someone of my culture. When I’m with Bas, or Tabitha, or Haulin Colin, or Martina of Swift Industries, or Del Webber, or Bernie, or Natalie, or Lisa, and so many others, I experience my true self, my best me. We’re all quirky—and many are farther down this amazing circular path than I am. I’ve come to think of quirky as the only defining characteristic of my culture.
When I’m at a business conference–even a really cool one like the Kaizen Camp here in Seattle this summer–I am experienced as quirky by many. “You turned your home in the CD into a free community coworking center? Are you crazy?” And the warmer response of people who fully recognize me as one of them: “Oh! That’s so cool!” That I am both crazy and cool was my own take-away from Kaizen Camp.
Quirky–both crazy and cool–is ok with me. Better than ok, actually. Through our Different Office work, I’ve come to think of Bas, Simone, Daniel, and me–plus all the storytellers we find–as the ambassadors of quirky. We are a gentle introduction to the real, wild, weird world that so many folks in the corporate world fear but that is really far more rich and beautiful and amazing and messy-delicious than you can imagine until you get here.
Our strongest ancestors took derisive words applied to them and made them their own. They owned their words. Today, the quirky are doing the same.
Quirky is an even better adjective than authentic because it is simultaneously more mature and more immature. And it can be both, bitches, because it’s quirky.
I certainly feel it as a higher compliment than authentic and mean it as such when I apply it to others of my culture. We, the quirky.
Because I’ve always been, or strived to be, authentic. But in Lori Land, you can be authentic yet still be in the dark about who you really are as a human being or what you really want or what you’d really love to be doing this very moment. That is, you can be authentic to/within what’s expected of you by cultural or gender or family or religious or other norms. And you can feel content and happy within that pre-assigned authenticity—at least for a while, because that is part of you too.
But it’s not the all of you.
To receive the adjective quirky playfully, with joy, ah! That’s really something.
It seems to mean that my own voice within me is being heard clearly by me. That my own fears and “I shoulds” are being put into proper perspective. It seems to mean that I’m starting to see my “flaws” as things I really love about myself and others (viva la long-winded bloggers!) or as the special bits that others simply don’t have to the same extent I do.
Receiving the adjective quirky playfully means that I love the aspects of myself that I formerly thought were things best hidden away, weird, not good enough. And more, that I’m letting others see these parts of me, inspiring them to be more themselves too.
Being quirky also seems to demonstrate that we’re being authentic to our true selves on such a regular basis that loved ones notice the change and experience it themselves. Loved ones can be the hardest to convince sometimes–because they loved and often see the previous you, not the now you. I warned Daniel recently that I strongly suspected I might be sending a whole ship-load of quirky his way this year, beyond anything he’s previously seen from me. He expertly demonstrated the very definition of loved one for me. He gently reminded me that I’ve always been quirky, that he can handle any amount of quirky I throw his way (as demonstrated repeatedly by what he’s already done), and that, in fact, my new levels of quirky remind him of the many reasons why he loved me to begin with. That my quirky brings out his quirky, most days. A win win. Nothing my individual self should fear. So I stopped with the fearing.
One of the best parts about the quirky culture is that things that used to make me furious have lost much of their power over me. Not just the things about myself that used to make me furious–like my desire to make homemade soup and paint rocks and can vegetables and put a cozy blanket on the sofa come fall instead of changing the world in bigger, better ways. But also the things that used to make me furious at others–like the restaurant chain Hooters, for example, the mention of which used to launch me into a 10-minute lecture to anyone trapped nearby about who should and should NOT be allowed to call themselves “a family restaurant.”
Most moments now, I no longer think it’s my business to judge or change my quirky companions on this spinning ball of beautiful blue-green floating through starry black space. This quirky self loves quirky wherever she encounters it most days, and creates and co-creates it too. If some people want to wear orange silk shorts and tight shirts to express their quirkiness, more power to them. Really really.
How lucky we are to be here now. Our home, quirky, home.