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Embracing your strangeness

Embracing your strangeness

by Merel MIEDEMA 3 min. 27.08.2021
Everybody is a misunderstood genius, as shown by a book, an artwork and a film
'No one else can look inside our brain, and we cannot look inside other people’s'
'No one else can look inside our brain, and we cannot look inside other people’s'
Photo credit: Shutterstock

I believe it is a universal truth that every individual feels misunderstood. We are all the odd one out, the ugly duckling, the misunderstood genius. 

No one else can look inside our brain, and we cannot look inside other people’s. We do not know whether our insecurities and random thoughts are truly strange or not – unless we ask, and that is altogether far too scary. Maybe that is what binds us together: we are all strange, and we all think we are the only one. 

Isn’t it time to stop being scared of being different, and instead accept the fact that we are all weirdos? 

The First Bad Man by Miranda July

Cheryl, the protagonist and narrator of the novel The First Bad Man, works for a company owned by a married couple. On a whim she offers to take in her bosses’ adult daughter Clee “for a few days”. That turns out to be an understatement and soon Cheryl finds herself with a permanent and omnipresent roommate who forces her to confront previously undiscovered needs and desires. 

Offering a true insight into her protagonist’s mind, July describes Cheryl’s many intimate and niche thoughts so that they become instantly recognisable while staying authentic. Although Cheryl is able to articulate her needs well, she struggles to feel secure in her contact with others, even while her needs are being met by those people.  

The combination of embracing one’s own strangeness with the anxiety of being misunderstood is what makes July’s work so powerful. She doesn’t shy away from the intensely personal and cringingly intimate and her characters feel like real people. 

Neuro Blooms by Leslie Holt

Speaking of intensely personal, this art project is one close to my heart. I recently walked past the psychiatric hospital in my neighbourhood and saw its windows were covered in huge stickers depicting colourful brains. This turned out to be part of the Neuro Blooms project by Leslie Holt which aims to destigmatise mental illness. As a sufferer of recidivist depressions I embrace any and all artists who spread awareness about psychiatric issues, and Holt does it in an especially bright way. 

While having an illness in any other part of your body is acceptable, a brain that doesn’t work the same as others is often seen as something to be ashamed of. It shouldn’t be, and this is what Holt tries to highlight with her mixed media artworks, prints and pins. Based on PET scans of brains undergoing illnesses such as depression, ADHD or schizophrenia, the Neuro Blooms are colourful and beautiful and celebratory – I for one am very proud to wear my pin (it’s blue, of course). 

Neuro Blooms can be enjoyed on and on Instagram.   

Cowboys by Anna Kerrigan

This is a modern western in which men are allowed to have feelings, too, even if it almost destroys them. Troy, Sally, and Joe Johnson are an all-American family until a catalyst event leads Troy to kidnap Joe and take him to Canada by way of the beautiful Montana forests. 

While this is where the movie starts, it is the middle of the family’s story. The rest is told partly through flashbacks, and as I will not give any spoilers you will just have to believe me when I tell you this is a beautifully crafted film that will give you new insight into what it is to be a family. 

The beauty of the movie picture lies not just in the richness of the forest and mountains, but even more so in the fact that there are no villains. Every character has flaws and redeeming features, and although the use of a mental illness as a plot devise is questionable, the rest of the film is so wonderfully done that it remains a must-see.

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