When Being Weird Is Cool, And When It’s Just Weird

I’m pretty weird. I have a strange sense of humor, I juggle, I have elaborate conversations with myself and when I’m walking through the halls at school I like to pretend I’m spider man. Yet, I’m not a psycho. Really.

Anywaaay, seeing as I’m currently dwelling in the shitland of productivity I thought I’d write a post on weirdness. Today we’re going to talk about the difference between weirdos that are perceived to have high social status, and weirdos that you’re afraid will molest your children.

And yes, I know this is shaping up to be a weird post. Get it? 😉 Uhmm… never mind. (Everything’s always funnier in my head.) Let’s get back on topic.

What’s the defining factor whether an unusual behavior is “cool weird” or “weird weird?”

The place that it comes from. If you’re being weird just to get the attention of others you’re gonna be labeled a weirdo. Weirdness arising from a deficiency of self-esteem and feeling that you’re not enough will drive people away from you. In other words, typically when you adjust your behavior for the sole purpose of pleasing others it’s going to be weird.

On the other hand, the type of weirdness that earns respect for your individuality is that which arises merely out of self-expression. You can typically get away with (and often be rewarded for) going against societal norms as long as you do something because it allows you to express yourself and you “buy-in” to whatever you’re doing.

A perfect example of weirdness arising from self-expression was me in one of my Spanish classes a couple months ago. The room was completely quiet and spontaneously I sang, “Ra Ra RaRaRaRa Yo Soy Lady Gaga.”

The entire class erupted into laughter and my singing was a “high-value” behavior because I did something that was an expression of who I am and what I think is funny rather than what I thought other people would laugh at.

To conclude let’s consider a simple rule of thumb. If you’re being weird to get attention from or try to please other people it’s going to make them uncomfortable and be “weird weird.” However, if you’re going against societal norms because doing so makes you happy or allows you to better express yourself it’ll be considered a high-status behavior.

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Picture is from me pretending to be Spiderman inside Target. I don’t have any school Spiderman pictures. Quick story though, I was pretending to be spiderman in the hall and I accidentally elbowed a girl in the face. I was mortified so I apologized, hugged her, and chatted her up as we walked down the stairs together. She was cute and ended up being pretty cool. Unfortunately I forgot to ask for the phone number before we said goodbye. I’m still kicking myself. Oh well. Moral of the story? If you think a girl’s cute elbow her in the face and she’ll end up liking you 😉

(For the real dummies don’t actually do this. It won’t work. Well I guess it could, but again where the actions are coming from is much more important than what you do.)

Also, this is the first post I’ve written in almost two weeks. Maybe the quality isn’t back yet, but I’ve gotten myself to actually sit down for the first time in FOREEEVER so I’m considering today a victory. And this section is getting almost as long as the post itself so I’m going to rock out of here now. Peaceee.

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Key Takeaways From The War Of Art

I finished reading Steven Pressfield’s The War Of Art yesterday. It was easily the most valuable book I’ve read this year. If producing any form of creative work is important to you I’d highly recommend you get a hold of a copy. In the meantime, however, here are some key takeaways.

“Are you paralyzed with fear? That’s a good sign. Fear is good. Like self-doubt, fear is an indicator. Fear tells us what we have to do. Remember one rule of thumb: the more scared we are of a work or calling, the more sure we can be that we have to do it.”

Pretty self-explanatory. Whatever scares you the most is probably the most important thing for you to face.

“Resistance is fear. But Resistance is too cunning to show itself naked in this form. Why? Because if Resistance lets us see clearly that our own fear is preventing us from doing our work we may feel shame at this. And shame may drive us to act in the face of fear.”

If you’re afraid to do something you often won’t admit your afraid of it. You’ll instead make rationalizations of why doing something can wait or why it isn’t important to do something at all.

“The professional keeps his eye on the doughnut and not the hole. He reminds himself it’s better to be in the arena, getting stomped by the bull, than to be up in the stands or out in the parking lot.”

It’s better to face difficult challenges for your passion than be a spectator for other people’s dreams.

“The professional learns to recognize envy-driven criticism and to take it for what it is: the supreme compliment. The critic hates most that which he would have done himself if he had had the guts.”

Haters deliver the most criticism to that which they’re too afraid to do themselves.

“Of any activity you do, ask yourself: If I were the last person on earth, would I still do it?”

Perhaps the best question to ask yourself when searching for your passion. Also a key question in general to living a fulfilling life.

“The amateur believes he must first overcome his fear; then he can do his work. The professional knows that fear can never be overcome. He knows there is no such thing as a fearless warrior or a dread-free artist.”

I realized this when I entered middle school and began learning how to socialize and solidified my understanding of this when I started the community here. I think this is something that holds a lot of people back.

While I will add that you can desensitize yourself to fear, I think Pressfield is correct in what he’s saying. Success is rarely the result of being unafraid. Success is the result of feeling fear and taking action anyway.

“There’s a secret that real writers know that wannabe writers don’t and the secret is this: it’s not the writing part that’s hard. What’s hard is sitting down to write.”

Although I’ve found this to be particularly true in writing I think it applies to any other creative endeavor as well. The most important thing to long-term success in your craft is consistently setting aside time for it and showing up.

Again, it’s an incredible book. I don’t make a lot of product recommendations because I know you’re busy, but I think this one is worth your time. Check it out.

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Written almost two weeks ago. Published it now because I didn’t have anything else written. I’ve been in a big slump lately. I know, ironic giving I just recommended a book about consistently producing. I guess it’s time I get back on my feet, and bust out of this weird haze.

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The Dangerous Break Mistakes You’re Probably Making

(Note from Cam: I’m rusty with these videos, so I’d recommend reading the blog post instead today. Regardless, enjoy!)

I apologize for the link bait headline. It was the first thing that popped in my head and it sounded catchy so I decided to keep it. With that being said, I’ve recently gone on a sabbatical, at least by my standards.

Aside from a short trip to Dallas in April, I’ve been grinding essentially nonstop since school started in September. With school letting out for summer vacation last week I decided it’d be a good time to revitalize myself.

Five days of relaxation in the summer sun as well as returning to my video game roots, and I’m feeling restless and ready to get back to work. Here’s what I’ve learned.

Let Go Completely

You need to let go of work completely. For the duration of your break your standard routine no longer exists. You may love work as much as I do, but you know what’s worse than taking a break?

Taking a pseudo break where you’re constantly thinking about work, and then getting back to work and realizing you’re still burnt out. Don’t resist having to take a break. Full acceptance of the revitalization process is what will allow you to maintain long-term motivation and passion for your craft (as well as spend the most time doing it).

Sometimes Being Unproductive Is The Most Productive

In the past during my breaks I’ve tried cramming Spanish flashcards, or hours of self-improvement study each day. As a result, my burn out was often no better after I’d concluded my break.

The lesson? Like the last point said, let go completely. We’re focused on long term gains, not who can accomplish the most over their “break week.” For some people a night playing Call Of Duty is what they need to feel refreshed.

If that’s truly what you’re passionate about great (though I would be cautious with television, video games, web surfing, etc, as many people resort to them not because they’re passionate about them, but because they require little energy exertion).

If you enjoy soccer find a game to play in. If a night out partying is what you need roll with it. Whatever you decide, however, don’t choose a recovery activity simply because it has productive potential and you feel it’s something you feel you should do. Pick something based on a desire to be engrossed in the process of it.

Set A Hard Deadline For Your Return

Your brain is addicted to the default state you experience. Think of your mood as a habit. It’s difficult to change. There’s a reason your coworker never stops complaining. He’s conditioned himself to complain and project negative energy into the world.

You may catch brief glimpses of positivity from him, but he’s generally negative because if he don’t exert concentrated energy on adjusting his mood he reverts back to his default state. You’re the same way.

You can be a type “A” personality, the workaholic that’s first to the office and last to leave, but when you take a break you may find your default state change. Normally I enjoy writing these blog posts, reading about self-improvement, juggling, and going out to practice my social skills.

This week, however, you’d have never guessed. I missed several practice sessions for juggling, stayed up late most nights playing Bomberman and Super Smash Bros, skipped my meditation sessions, and dreaded returning to my daily writing practice.

I probably let myself go a little bit too much in this period of recovery, but what’s scarier is it could have been a lot worse. Initially I was completely uncomfortable with being unproductive, but the last couple days it began to feel normal and justified to me.

I began to make rationalizations in my head that I was working too hard and I just needed to learn to relax. What’s wrong with Mario and Pokemon? Why was I torturing myself with the writing process each day? I’ve already got over 200 posts, what more could I possibly have to say?

Luckily I told myself the maximum amount of time I could veg out was a week. I did just that, and today I’m back on the grind. Would I have been back without a set deadline? Almost certainly, but who knows how long it would have taken? Don’t take a risk. Give yourself a hard deadline for your return.

Realize It’s Probably Gonna Suck

I’ve had times where I’ve taken breaks from juggling and the day I returned I had renewed passion and was better than ever. Those days are the exception. Usually after several days off I suck and its difficult not to be frustrated.

Writing is even worse. When I’m writing daily I rarely have trouble stringing words together. The day I return, however, it’s not pretty. Almost 800 words in and I’m beginning to rediscover my flow, but check out the beginning of this post. It was like I was a newbie blogger all over again.

This is probably the most difficult thing to come to terms with after you take a break. You’re going to struggle getting back into the state of mind where you produce your greatest work. I only took five days off and it’s taken me over 1.5 hours to hit my stride.

If you’ve taken a month off it might take you several days to get back into your groove. I know it sucks, but what other choice do you have? You can quit, or accept that it’s going to take some effort to get back to your previous production level.

The most important thing to realize, however, is that you can do it. Don’t psyche yourself out. If you were beasting it before it’s easy to rationalize that the person crushing life was some superhuman and not you.

Understand though, that the only thing that superhuman had that you don’t is momentum. The most difficult thing is getting the ball rolling. If you do that and consistently show up, you’ll be back on top of your game before you know it.

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(Picture from Dallas in April 2014)

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Cam’s Cure For OCD

First off, let me cover my ass legally. I’m not a doctor. Don’t take this as medical advice. Consider these ideas to be “Entertainment.” Ultimately, you’re responsible for any actions you take as a result of this blog post. Seek out a qualified professional for any health difficulties you may or may not be struggling with.

With that being said, something I’d struggled with over the last 6-9 months was OCD. It was strange to me because OCD was something I’d never dealt with before, and around the onset of the 2013-2014 school year I developed a mild to moderate case of it.

I’d check my alarm clocks 3-4 times to make sure they were set each night. Inside my car I’d have to chant, “Lights off. Lights off. Lights off. Lights off,” before I could get out.

My eccentric behaviors weren’t running or ruining my life, but they were an almost constant low level anxiety. I’ve tried several different things to combat these strange inclinations over the past few months, and in doing so I’ve found several techniques and ideas that have served me in almost completely eliminating my OCD.

Before we get started though, let me go make sure I turned my car lights off… 😉

Ok the lights are good. Let’s get to it.

The Three S’s

Sleep, stress, and social isolation. I don’t know why these aspects of your lifestyle would be connected to OCD, but at least in my case they were inseparable from it.

Getting adequate rest, setting aside time to play, and maintaining an active social life are important to anyone. This is very bro-sciency, but try getting these needs met and even if they don’t help your OCD to the extent they helped mine, they’ll still allow you to be a healthier and happier person in general.

Breaking Identification And Changing Habits

This is where things start becoming a lot more directly applicable to OCD. One of the problems with compulsive behaviors is that each time you’re coerced into performing them you’re strengthening them as a habit.

In other words, each day you decide to skip the gym you make it more likely you’ll skip the gym the next day as well. In the same way, each time you give into the temptation to check whether your doors are locked you make it more likely you’ll engage in compulsive behaviors in the future as well.

Obviously, it’s important to have your doors locked so maybe this does result in you double checking on occasion. That’s normal. What’s not normal is knowing your doors are locked on an intellectual level and going back to check on them anyway. This is key. Understanding this is how I effectively conquered my OCD.

I realized that I wasn’t the voice in my head. If it said to go check on my alarm clocks, I didn’t have to go check. If on an intellectual level I knew that I had already locked my door it didn’t matter what the voice in my head said. I wasn’t going back to check.

Doing so was uncomfortable. I would feel intense urges to engage in my compulsive behaviors. But I wouldn’t let myself. I realized that because my compulsive habits were so firmly established it was going to be uncomfortable while my brain rewired itself.

I kept pushing forward, however, and the urges and discomfort gradually decreased in intensity. After a month or so I’m almost back to where I was before adopting all these strange compulsive behaviors. In another couple weeks I’m confident I’ll be completely back to normal.

I’m aware that I may not have the deepest understanding of OCD, or have had the worst case of it, but I hope that reading about my experience in overcoming it was useful for you anyway. 🙂

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(Picture from April 2014. Taken in Texas.)

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Not Dead. Can’t Quit.

I don’t normally dedicate entire posts to the work of others, but there’s too much value in this video not to share it. It’s a video by former Navy SEAL Richard Machowizc. I can’t recommend watching this speech enough, but I’ll provide some brief notes on the talk below anyway…

  • A man can only be beaten in two ways; if he gives up, or he dies.
  • Mantra to live by… Not Dead. Can’t Quit.
  • As long as you can think, as long as you’re still alive, as long as you have even a single pulse in your body, you’re still in the game if you refuse to quit.
  • Quitting means to give up. To give up what? To give up your dreams, the goals you’ve set targets for, your potential and everything you’re capable of being.
  • If you said you were going to do something following through has to be your only option.
  • There’s no ‘I’ in team, but there is an “At Me.” Are you going to be the guy that says to your teammates, to your friends, and to your family, “You can point the finger at me, and I’ll deliver”? Or are you going to be the guy that lets your excuses and quitting conversation get in the way of all you’re capable of being? We’ll see…

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Let It Burn

In her song Burn, Ellie Goulding says,

“Cause we got the fire, fire, fire, yeah we got the fire fire fire And we gonna let it burn burn burn burn”

Notice that she says, “We gonna let it burn.” Not, we gonna keep adding sticks until the fire smothers and runs out of oxygen. It sounds obvious, yet it’s something we all do at times.

Sometimes we try to make ourselves heard when silence would speak loudest. Sometimes we try to add more and more tasks, and spread ourselves so thin we break. Sometimes we try to maintain too many relationships and the ones most important to us fizzle out.

Sometimes, less is more. Just something to meditate on.

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The Best Use Of Your Time Varies

I’ve got burritos in the oven so we’re not going to waste any time chitchatting. An interesting observation I’ve had over the last year or so is that the value of your time varies. I think that’s a poor explanation so let me try to rephrase that.

Over the course of a day, week, month, year, and even your life as whole the “best” use of your time varies. I’m still struggling to articulate my thoughts, so let’s look at an example of what I’m trying to say.

When school is in session I rarely socialize on week nights. It’s not because I don’t understand the value of socializing, it’s because I already have juggling practice, homework, and possibly a blog post to write.

I still socialize on occasion during the week, but it’s the exception rather than the norm because socializing would require me to take a day off of juggling. Of course, you could argue that I could just juggle twice as much on the weekend and everything would be ok right? Wrong, and the reason is that while some skills can be practiced in marathon sessions others can’t.

Running five hours each Saturday is completely different than running one hour five times per week. On the other hand, while social momentum is important (if you’re anything like me), you can still develop your social skills fairly quickly by immersing yourself in social situations over the weekend, and focusing on other things during the week.

Therefore, at different times of the day and different days of the week your time may have different value. This isn’t a complex concept, but I think it’s something that rarely occurs to most people on a conscious level.

If you’re looking for a job, but are always busy with homework during the week it may be intelligent for you to consider pursuing a job that works mainly weekends. Perhaps you could consider being a soccer ref. It’d also be intelligent to consider batching your errands for the weekend.

On the other hand, if you’re trying to develop your socials skills and want to work during the week you could look for a job babysitting after school.

Looking at things from a day to day basis, something I encourage people to do is take advantage of having a full reservoir of will power in the morning and eat their frog. By attempting to do your most difficult task early in the day you have the greatest chance of doing it.

Doing this also allows you to batch maintenance work such as email, cooking, cleaning, etc, for the end of the day when you lack the ability to focus or do heavy mental processing.

Alternatively, you can also spend the end of your day in a complete relaxation. Doing so will recharge you for the next day, and you won’t even have to feel guilty about it because you’ll have already accomplished all you’ve needed to for that day.

Again, I know that the concept of there being a variance to the best use of your time is a fairly simple one, but applying it is a quick way to bring improvements to your life with relatively little effort.

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Awesome addition to this concept by my buddy Huan Nguyen. “If it helps any other readers, I think of this as current time being affected by other time. If, for example, I’ve spent the last two hours focused on homework, I now have a depletion of willpower, and taking that into account, it might be better to not try to force through another two hours, and instead do something I still need to do but that’s less mentally intensive, like work out.”

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