Quirky Is In

My ride honked the horn outside and my crush (for lack of a better definition) and I stood up after an evening of watching movies and holding hands. He made no move during our time together on the couch, and now, standing in front of the door, he just blocked my way out. We hugged goodbye and as he pulled away, we went back to just standing there, staring at each other. So, I did the only thing I could think to do. I lifted my arms, pumping them out from the elbows, knocked my knees in and out, and sang, “Okay, byyyeee.”

He looked at me, half-smiled, and asked, “What are you doing?” Then we made out.

We are living in a Zooey Deschanel society. One where my Elaine Benes-like dancing elicited a kiss instead of the jeers it once commanded. One where, what once was described as “weird” is now “cute”; what once was awkward and undesirable is now “quirky.” And quirky is in. Thank goodness.

Nothing has changed, existentially speaking, in the way I think or act (well, maybe a little, but I worked really hard on that), that would cause such a shift in the way people describe me. I say the same silly things, send the same uncomfortable text messages, and maintain the sexual maturity of a pre-pubescent. However, while I spent my life up through college being teased for my social awkwardness (I was just socially competent enough that it allowed for teasing in jest, not cruelty), people now giggle as they tell me I am “quirky.” And for some reason, this now sounds like a compliment.

But, if I didn’t change, what did?

Mostly, diction. The stigma attached to being awkward is perpetuated by the connotation of the word itself. Even though the actual behaviors haven’t changed, the word used to describe them has. By replacing a word that has preconceived negative associations – awkward – with one more blithe– quirky – it immediately changes the perception of those actions. The characterization of the descriptive word overrides the actuality of the behavior it describes.

Being awkward detracted from your personality, having quirks adds character.

The quirky epidemic has been slowly on the rise for years, but the overwhelming popularity of New Girl has catapulted quirkiness into the limelight. Thanks to Zooey, and New Girl, being quirky has become more than just accepted; it is actually somewhat trendy. People now throw that word around like it is something to be desired. I get it. I appreciate it. But for those of us who have lived our lives up until now trying to quell our (what we now call) quirks, this drastic turn in popular mindset, though welcomed, is a confusing victory. We – the formerly socially awkward – must now work to reverse our lifelong understanding that our behaviors are inhibiting; we must learn not just to tolerate our quirks, but more, to embrace them.

For me, watching New Girl has been like watching a scripted series based on the reality that is my life (except the characters live in a world where everybody is attractive and boys are clean). I have received a large number of texts, emails, Facebook messages counting the similarities between the Jess caricature of an off-center, single female and the very real me.

Last year, during a dinner party, I talked about “flicking it” in front of a guy I like for so long that he probably will never let me anywhere near it for fear I seriously think that is okay.

On every date I’ve had in the past four months, I’ve talked about how beautiful my cat is for longer than is necessary just to admit I have a cat. (Yes, I’ve showed pictures.)

I laugh at boys in the bedroom when they try to be sexy and talk so much during hookups, that I have been shushed before.

I asked a boy during (what was meant to be) a sensual shower if he wanted soap.

I once walked out of an airplane bathroom with one end of a two-foot strip of toilet paper tucked into my pants. (Picture a long tail or a very thin wedding gown train.)

My shirt once came undone during an interview, exposing my bra and cleavage, and the interviewer didn’t tell me until the interview was over. I got the job.

I once put a co-worker’s bathroom under two inches of water by running the faucet to cover up the sound of my dry heaving.

One time, while making out on my parents’ couch, the guy leaned back so he was lying flat. Instead of crawling on top of him like a normal person, I knelt down next to the couch and leaned over, straining to reach his face.

It’s no wonder I also have been compared to Liz Lemon and, my favorite, a female Larry David.

I used to worry (let’s be honest, I still worry) that I wouldn’t be able to find someone who found my awkwardness/quirks charming. Back in the day, people laughed at my sexual incompetency and social awkwardness as though it wasn’t something I was plagued with; as though the lack of control over things that came out of my mouth didn’t cause crippling fear of dying alone, but simply provided endless entertainment to them. Now, thanks to the attention and charming reputation Zooey has given to quirky personalities everywhere, well, people still laugh at my sexual incompetency and social awkwardness, but now, I willingly accept it.

Being awkward made you an outcast; having quirks makes you interesting.

And quirky is in. Finally.

Image via shutterstock

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100000598806182 Brianna Summey

    I love this article! I am also really awkward. I was voted class clown by my senior class, and I think it was the only way they could categorize my random outbursts of insanity.
    Adding to your list of things: I set the fire alarm off my second day of college because I opened the emergency exit door. Everyone clapped and it was horrifying.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=517225029 Mary Diaz

    Hi there!
    I loooooved your article, it seems like its describing my life.
    I am so quirky, people always tell me I am awkward, weird, etc; at the beginning I felt really bad, like bullied, not anymore.
    I found someone who loves my quirks. So dont worry! You’ll find someone who would like you just the way you are! 😀

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=588625787 Karyn Gagnon

    This is all very good news for my roommates and myself! How do we inform the male species that quirky as an in thing is a universal fact?

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100002479813114 Rachel Gosselin

    I agree with some of this article, but I think it was more Wes Anderson’s doing that put “quirkiness” in vogue. I can’t say that the whole quirky thing is necessarily such a good thing, either. Sometimes, such as in the television program New Girl, the humour is just the characters being quirky or random rather than jokes or punch lines. It almost reminds me of The Big Bang Theory where the joke is just laughing at people for being nerdy.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1329468099 Alyssa Christine Lladoc

    Your article is so humourous! I loved every second reading it! And you are right in every point you’ve made! Thank you Zooey, and Thank YOU for writing this^^ quirky IS in!

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100000533545561 Christen Dobbs

    I LOVE this article! You’re totally spot on, and thanks to things like this and the amazing Zooey, my awkwardness isn’t so, well, awkward!

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1353392772 Lauren Gui

    omg LOL you are adorable.

    I’ve actually done #3 and #4 and in addition:

    It’s always really crowded on the fourth level in college at the lift area. One day I decided to be smart and open the stair door (reserved for teachers) and get to class that way – an almighty screech went off throughout the campus – and I screamed, slammed the door and legged it.

    I cannot emphasize enough how glad I am that my crush wasn’t there to witness that.

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