I have a secret to share with you: I’m a little bit strange.
For anyone who knows me, that’s probably not much of a secret. You see, I’ve always been interested in a lot of things that don’t really fall into the mainstream definition of cool. I’ve never really been into pop culture or sports. I couldn’t really tell you which is the recent Disney-child-star-turned-pop-singer on the music scene, or what happened on the latest season of “The Bachelor” (is that show even still on?).
As a kid, I was always pretty quiet and nerdy. I loved art, and could usually be found doodling imaginary worlds for jotting down little poems in every available inch of my schools notebooks, sometimes to the detriment. I once got in trouble in gym class for studying patterns in the clouds instead of paying attention to who was up at bat in T-ball game. Is it any wonder that I was usually one of the last kids picked for any team sports?
I also have this inexplicable fascination with geography. Give me a map or put me in front of Google Earth and you probably won’t see me for hours.
As you might imagine, these traits didn’t exactly make me the most popular kid in school. It wasn’t until I got to art school that I found a lot of people with equally weird passions.
Being an outlier, I’ve always been drawn to people who fall into the same camp. Anyone who has ever been on the quiet and nerdy side will tell you that we can recognize our own. It’s like a refined radar or “Spidey sense” (did I mention that I have a masters degree in sequential art, or “comic books” as it’s sometimes known to the layman).
It would be easy to dismiss these quirks as flaws and oddities, especially given that a lot of what’s interesting to me isn’t necessarily interesting to the average American.
Yet, it’s these very quirks that shape who I am as a person. Over the years I’ve come to embrace my eccentricities instead of downplay them.
You see, it turns out that the things that make me different are actually strengths in disguise.
My love of art led to degrees in graphic design, art history and sequential art, which have provided the foundation for my photography skills. It’s where I learned about combining colors that come alive on a page, and how to make a strong visual compositions.
My love of geography has led to world travel and an appreciation for the beauty and richness of different cultures.
And my interest in other people’s stories has allowed me to learn about them on more than a superficial level, helping to better understand the wide variety of people with whom I work on a daily basis.
My point is that we all have things about us that might seem weird to the outside world. Yes, I’ll bet even you do.
It’s when we let these parts of our personalities shine through that we can feel free to be our most authentic selves. We let down our inhibitions while inviting others to do the same. And most important of all, we become more accepting and less judgmental towards ourselves and those around us.
The same advice applies when planning a wedding. Why do otherwise free spirited individuals feel like we have to do every by the book, just because it’s “the way that’s always done” instead of celebrating in a way that feels true to us?
Maybe you’re more blue collar than black tie. Maybe you want to wear a red vintage cocktail dress instead of a traditional white gown. Maybe you want to host your party at a bowling alley instead of a fancy hotel ballroom, or collect money for your favorite charity in lieu of gifts.
The most important thing is that you spend your day in a way that feels authentic to the two of you; that honors the things that make you both unique and that are important to you, even if it’s not what other people had in mind.
So go ahead and plan that Star Trek costume wedding, or host your reception at the local Renaissance Faire. Wear your favorite Batman cufflinks. Set your first dance to a punk rock anthem or dance the polka with wild abandon.
Just be sure to invite me to the celebration!