Embracing Your Quirks As Strengths

Written for & published by In Her Shoes Foundation (2013)


By Melissa Doman, M.A.

Have you ever been called a weirdo? Someone may have been generous and even called you “quirky.” You like to describe yourself as someone “uncommon.” Have you ever stopped to think of those unique attributes as positive character traits? The same things that others point out as awkward may be the things that help you stand out from the crowd.

People may comment or criticize on attributes or ideas they don’t understand, but just because some features about you can be called “different” or “weird” by others doesn’t mean they’re not beneficial to you. Why? Because there’s only one you!

            Now when I say quirks, I don’t mean your obsession with animated movies or funny videos of animals dressed in human clothing. What I mean is your ability to organize an entire apartment so even a friend who’s never been to your home could find where you keep the mixing bowls. [Translation: maintaining structure in a potentially chaotic environment.] Or how you can always seem to calm down those in crisis and easily tell what it is they need in ways that others can’t. [Translation:  professional empathy, a highly valued skill in the behavioral health/medical field]. If you want to get comical about it, you could even go as far as to look at your love of researching celebrity gossip. [Translation: the ability aggregate and synthesize large amounts of information from multiple sources]. What you may not realize is that a seemingly innocuous skill may translate well into how you handle your surroundings. It’s not about the situation getting the attention; it’s the ability behind it.

            Traits that we often overlook, take for granted, or even may be embarrassed by may hold the keys to our personal success. It’s a matter of honing those abilities for your benefit. The constant from all of the aforementioned examples is the ability to intensely focus on a single objective and use that focus to achieve your goal.  Each goal is as different as the person attempting to achieve it, but the power of your determination is what truly matters. 

Some individuals have a natural inclination towards this ability and are called “nerds” because their focus is on topics the “mainstream” may consider odd or taboo.  Others have this ability and it’s being used innocuously to achieve everyday tasks with such success that you refer to yourself as the “coupon queen” or “deal diva.” Moreover, others still may not realize they have this skill at all, but are able to learn it through time and practice; like riding a bicycle or playing guitar.

So, here’s your first task, the first step in your process in becoming a “focuser” with laser accuracy: spend 10 minutes trying to determine where your hidden skills lay.  They could be obvious like what I mentioned before, or hidden deep within you.  Once you determine where these skills are you can begin to sculpt an even better you from the original work-in-progress that already exists.  If you don’t find your skills on the first try, then try a second time, or even a third.  The key to your success is already within you, so there’s no need to let failure or near-success be an obstacle. 

Just remember that Rome wasn’t built in a day – but it took some pretty quirky and “out there” people to design it.