Being your authentic self is one of my keys to happiness. Once I accepted the parts of myself that I deemed odd or embarrassing, I was immediately happier. My Quirkiness is tied up in Asperger’s Syndrome. I was very embarrassed about the things I enjoyed as a teenager, because to me they were out of place for my age. I found that I was still happy playing with Barbies, miniature farms, and of course Legos. But what I didn’t know was that everyone else is focused on what they feel is awkward about themselves. People actually aren’t walking around focusing on your every move, because as it turns out, we often are stuck in our own heads too! I was skeptical of this new feeling, but I wanted to accept who I was more than the fears of being seen as a weirdo by anyone else. But, being a Quirky Turkey is open to anyone, not just those with autism, self-acceptance is for everyone! All ages, stages, genders, people who like dogs, people who like cats, people who eat Hawaiian pizza, those who wear mismatched socks, and everyone in-between, outside, under, or, on top. At this point in my life I am confident in my personality, and am mostly happy with who I am. Why is it important to be happy with yourself? At the end of the day, it’s just you in your mind. You come home to yourself, and home is supposed to be where you are most comfortable. I believe that the sooner you can find happiness and satisfaction with yourself, the happier you will be in general. To help you and others, I have chosen five of my favorite tips and tricks for embracing your quirk. These are easy and accessible so you could practice them anywhere you like, as often as you like. The journey of self-love requires patience with yourself but is so worth it in the long haul.
“You don’t have to learn how to love yourself. You just have to remember there was nothing wrong with you to begin with. You just have to come home.”Nayyirah Waheed
Begin a Journal
I love to journal, in fact I have more than enough! Each journal serves its own purpose ranging from a collection of quotes, a bullet journal, and my favorite one is a workbook in the “Wreck This Journal Series by Keri Smith. My journal is called: The Imaginary World of: (Your name here). This journal is filled with prompts that allow you to create your own world! I use journaling to take a break from reality, and to create little bubbles of happiness. Journals help us to get into our headspace in a healthy way and let us preserve some of our best ideas. Your journaling time can be as long or short as you wish, just set your imagination free! Not to mention the endless options you have for decorating your journal inside and out! Any journal will do, and any topic will do.
Here are some ideas to start your journaling experience if you need a boost:
- Stream of consciousness for a timed period
- Your favorite color
- Flip in a dictionary, or use a word generator, to find a random word and make your own definition or story behind how it came to be
- A time when you felt the happiest you have ever felt
- Create a character
“Of course it is happening inside your head, Harry., but why on earth should that mean it’s not real?”Albus Dumbledore, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows
Making lists of your favorite things can be fun, especially if you are the type of person who loves organization and order. Making lists has other benefits too, check out this article! I love to make lists on everything from my favorite songs, foods, colors, scents, to craft and recipe ideas, and to-do lists. Lists are cathartic in the way that they can bring order to a hectic day, and even promoting introspection! When you use lists to learn more about the things you like or dislike, and your favorite quotes and sayings, you can begin to find things that get you in a positive groove! When I was first finding myself, I made a list of my favorite things that soothe me. I find myself returning to this list frequently to add more ideas and even cross some out that I don’t find myself using often.
- Tip: journaling and lists go hand-in-hand! By adding lists in your journals, or even making a journal that is devoted to lists, you can really go all out!
“Success is liking yourself, liking what you do, and liking how you do it.”Maya Angelou
Acquire a Hobby
Hobbies help us delve into the things that we really enjoy, and have fun doing them! They are an easy way to discover the things that you like to do, and they can also help you find a community that you feel connected to! A few of my favorite hobbies are crafts, painting, drawing, and building with Legos. According to “Professional Crafter” Sarah White in her article here, “They allow you to do something that’s just for you…” When it comes to my addiction to Legos, I love nothing more than to be home alone and making elaborate scenes and towns from the various sets I have. In fact, I am so serious about this hobby that nearly all my sets are hot glued together (excluding people, accessories, and other things that should be able to move. Hello LEGO Movie.) for their own safety when I am moving them around. This is just one example of dedication to a hobby! You certainly do not have to be as obsessed with your needlework as I am with Legos, unless you want to! There is no right or wrong way to hobby, just find something you enjoy doing and then devote as much, or as little time to it as you wish! When you devote yourself to things that bring you happiness, you give yourself a little more room to love who you are.
“Give yourself the same care and attention that you give to others and watch yourself bloom.”Unknown
Create a Playlist
Music is another one of my obsessions. Having autism causes some folks to fixate on certain topics and learn everything they can about that topic. When I refer to obsessions, this is what I’m talking about. For people on and off the spectrum, music can be an easy way to relax and find new things that you enjoy! By branching out into new sounds, genres, and styles you can begin to flesh out your music preferences. I enjoy many different genres of music and have about ten playlists that I shuffle through frequently! My taste in music has come to represent many parts of my personality, and vice versa. I consider myself to be a versatile person, and I have many interests. My music is like that too! I also use music as a soothing technique when I feel stressed. You can use music to explore your tastes, and even find lyrics and ideas that speak to you!
- Here’s a link to a playlist that I like to use when I need some motivation!
“If you are always trying to be normal, you will never know how amazing you can be.Maya Angelou
Use Your Imagination
Using your imagination can mean anything from crafting, sculpting, painting, and writing, to reading, organizing, and sitting in nature! However you choose to let your imagination free is up to you. As children we are encouraged to spend lots of time in our own heads, to develop skills and learn interpersonal relationships. By being immersed in your own thoughts as a child encouraged us to be creative and free. It isn’t hard to notice that as we age, we can lose some of our carefree nature and become more occupied with fitting in and being “normal.” I’ve learned that “normal” is different for everyone. There is no standard of being in society, but pop culture, fads, and environmental cues can create this sense of what normal is in your life. Part of accepting who you are, and being confident in it, is realizing that very fact. Now, that isn’t an order to be as divergent and reckless as you can in the name of “finding yourself!” That is just a comforting reminder that everyone has an idea of what normal is to them, so why bother trying to please all those standards, when you can be happy in your own skin? Any way you can, use your imagination. Bring back some of that carefree childhood in your life and find yourself creating a space where you can be you.
“Fall in love with taking care of yourself. Fall in love with the path of deep healing. Fall in love with becoming the best version of yourself but with patience, with compassion and respect to your own journey.”S. McNutt
Being comfortable and proud of who you are is not always easy, but it is always rewarding. It encourages you to be kinder and more patient with yourself and others as you grow. As I said before, you are the one you come home to, you only get one life. Cliché, I know, but how important is that for us? The sooner you can become happy with yourself and accept those quirks that make you unique, the happier you’ll be because you aren’t relying on outside affirmation in who you are!