The Pachyderm of Permission & A Different Kind Of Weird

Oct 25


So. Here’s The Thing.

A few weeks ago, while noodling around in Havi’s comment section (sorry, I couldn’t find the exact post) I realized something crucial:

I don’t want permission to be weird;
I want permission to NEED to be weird.

It’s an important distinction.

(I’m going to ramble now; if you’d like to skip straight to the primary pachyderm, I’ll totally understand. I would too, if I could.)

See, I’m an artist and writer and spiritual fruitloop, so I’ve often connected to people who wore their weird on their shirt sleeves,  tattoo sleeves, apartment walls, children’s names, and in the stuff hanging from their rearview mirrors.

They call themselves freaks, and perverts, and weirdos, and they do it with a great deal of pride.  They revel in their different. Weird is a  rallying cry for them, a thing of power.  They weave it into their identity, use it to create support systems, build careers and businesses around it. They have their own unique support systems, subcultures, communities, and marketplaces.

It’s totally cool.

And while I love visiting? I don’t belong with them.

I’m just not their kind of weird.

Sure, I am a cultural misfit I guess, but I’ve never really thought of myself that way.

I’m certainly not a happy rebel, and I’d gladly conform to the mainstream, if I could only figure out how.

I could fake it, dress the part and pretend, but… you know? Poser-Weird is just plain sad.  And me, dressed up like a gothic vampire? It’d be every bit as fake on me in Sunday Church pearls and kitten heels on Marylin Manson.

Actually, more fake. The Sunday Church look  might work on Marylin.

Still, a major source of personal angst is my desire to be “normal,”  to fit in, to  relate to the lives and thought processes of other people, and have them relate right back.

YOU try telling that to the Folks-Who-Identify-As-Weird. Go on, I dare ya!  They’ll look at you like you have just sprouted an extra head.

An extra-head dressed in a 3-piece suit, seeking a job in middle management at IBM.

See, the Freaks? Their primary coping mechanism is to embrace, treasure, and sometimes even worship being weird.  They’ve come to love being outside of the norm, and they simply can’t understand why someone would want to be normal.

But I do want to be normal, dammit.

So permission to be weird isn’t what I need.  I don’t have a burning desire to declare myself as different from the crowd, dye my hair purple or retreat from society and live in a tree.  There’s permission for that nearly everywhere I look.

I need permission to NEED to be weird.

Inside.  Just a little.

Because I do… I do need to be weird, I mean.

My weird is inward, and quiet. It keeps to itself, and it likes being invisible.

My weird is in how I think.

I’m going to say that again, in bold, because it’s kinda important:

My weird is in how I think.

imageThe way my brain is wired? Yeah.  It’s different.  It always has been. I think in metaphor, imagery, analogy.  I talk to voices-in-my-head-that-aren’t-voices.  I dress up my struggles and personal demons (and other people’s demons) in masks and costumes, and I do crazy little SNL style skits in my mind with them.

I see patterns other people don’t see, make connections that baffle those around me. I find humor and joy in things and people who are desperately, totally, pitifully true to themselves, even (and especially) when it’s not very pretty.

And I have this odd need to fix it all in words, words communicated to someone else, in writing, in speech, in… something.  The act of communication, of sharing, of being understood? It’s really, really, REALLY important to me.

Not because I value it (though I do) but because it seems somehow necessary for my health, for my mental stability, for my process, creativity, productivity.  When I don’t share things, I feel ill. It’s as if my spirit is left in a cage by itself, until it starts chewing on its own toes.

Ok, that’s really creepy. But the point is that my version of being weird isn’t about me being part of a group, or belonging somewhere.

It’s about me being functional.

So yeah. I don’t want to be weird.

But I *need* to be weird, if only the inside. By that, I mean that need to be able to follow my different inner processes, in order to be creative, in order to be centered, in order to be where I want to be in life.

When I look for support for my weird in the outside world? (and I do look, because no matter what some of the gurus say, not all the answers are inside like Intel) The help I find doesn’t fit right.

At best, I can do a little alteration and maybe get some use out of it, but often, the guidance is so ill-tailored that it’s downright harmful.

Support and permission for my kind of weird weird is hard to come by.

That’s where Havi came in, for me.

Because, somehow? Permission for my needing to be weird is embedded throughout Havi’s blog, and all through her comment section (bless you, Havi’s commenter mice!)

She makes it ok, because her brain has many of the same strange quirky processes mine does.  She follows similar processes, she shares them where other people can see them, and she is successful not in spite of them, but because of them.

So she makes it ok that I talk to Things-In-My-Head, and even to Things-In-Other-People’s-Heads. It’s ok that using certain words (like marketing, business, accounting) can trigger panicky pathways in my brain that just freak me the <censored!> out. And it’s ok that getting down to business, for me, can mean turning business into a game, and playing really, really hard.

Yes, I did those things, in different forms, long before I ran across Havi.  I even used to teach some of those things, but awkwardly, uncomfortably, and cloaked in disclaimers and justifications.

I packaged it up as spirituality, or as “creativity exercises” or something, because I didn’t think anyone would accept it for what it was – just the way my brain works, every minute of every day.

So I’ve got my permission.

And it’s not just from Havi.  It’s from the whole community that is slowly, barely, sort of forming around this idea that it’s ok to be this bizarre sort of normal-looking-but-different-inside-weird.

And I want to thank you, each and every one of you, who comes here, and actually READS the posts. (I can tell, you know.  My no-bounce rate? It’s awesome. You actually are READING!) I want to thank you for the comments, and hugs, and reassurances. The emails, the Twitter replies and tweets and retweets.  And most of all, just for your presence, and your willingness to be weird with me.

Because you’ve shown me that there are, actually, a lot more people who find value in this sort of weird, and some who, like me, actually need it.

And I kinda figure that some of you are looking for permission to need to be weird, too.

So I want to pass the permission gift along.  Yes, others have done this, in a multitude of different ways – but we can *never* have too much permission.

Plus, the Circus Elephants wanted to get into the picture  –  they don’t want you to forget you have permission, ever again.

Ok. Here you go.

One Pachyderm Permission Slip.

Your Pachyderm of Permission Slip


  1. Click the image above for the full screen version.
  2. Print.
  3. Fill in your name and today’s date.
  4. Have permission!

It doesn’t specifically say “Permission to need to be weird” because that might not be the sort of permission you need, so just write in the details however you’d like it to read.

And unfortunately, my printer is on the fritz and I can’t really test the printability of Mr.Pachyderm.  So you might want to use the greyscale or black & white versions below, and color them in yourself. Just click the thumbnails below for the full size images.

image image

If even those don’t print out well, let me know in the comments and I’ll see what I can do.

Also, this is SO, so much cuter in person. It’s an acid free collage, using black ink, pastel pencils, and just a touch of silver for drama.  And if you’d like that much-cuter original, it’s yours for $40 via PayPal. Just drop me a line and let me know.

But the important part is the Permission, and that need to be weird some of us have.  Because I have this theory that there are a LOT more of us out there than we know – and that if we had actual stats on how many of us do our best with unconventional processes? We might look pretty darn conventional.

So. Comments! Yay, Comments!

Are you Weird-Inside, Weird-Outside, or just A-Touch-Of-Eccentric? Tell me about your weird, or your normal. Whichever, Whatever!

Oh. And I did a follow up.   It’s  just the permission.


  1. Ah, Tori, I know what you mean. I was drawn to the awesome people who waved their freak flag high and proud and, yet, I stuck out for being the kakhi and diamond-wearing conservative I am. But it was great because they totally didn’t mind (they’re cool like that) and sometimes I even surprised them when I would come up with something non-trad for my outward appearance.

    I’ve always wanted a certain style of normal but knew I wasn’t exactly status quo when it came to my thoughts, etc. Your description of the permission Havi’s crowd gives you explains why I’m drawn to them, too, better than I think I could 🙂

    • Tori Deaux /

      Yes! I knew you’d get it 🙂

      @Scraps, Oh, I hope I didn’t sound negative about the weird-outside folks! They are very accepting, and incredibly cool people to hang out with.

      For me, this is part of my search-for-community project. I’m seeing something start to come together, and its very tough to identify. It would be easier if Havi were the axis, but she’s not, exactly. She is sort of a touchstone for a lot of us, though. I think. Maybe.

      @Larisa, Yes! I’ve always loved creating that cognitive dissonance in others, doing little things that shake up people’s assumptions. It’s very, very amusing to see that look of “Wait… what?” on their faces as they try to reconcile their expectations.

  2. Hiya! Just want to say I can totally relate. I’ve never felt drawn to stand out through clothing, tattoos, colorful hair, etc. And, at the same time, it’s always been obvious that the way my mind works is a little different. Not entirely normal. The whole weird on the inside thing…

    While I kind of enjoy the whole appearing normal thing but not really *being* normal, it has resulted in some cognitive dissonance for people getting to know me. They have a hard time finding some category to put me into. Which, again, my brain finds quite amusing. 🙂

    Anyway, I love that you received your permission slip. And, I absolutely love your artwork. You rock!

  3. I’m not in the weird on the outside crowd, also more like a weird in the brain type thing. (I think it’s my imagination… boundaries? what are those?)

    And for a while my own family nick-named me Abby….(as in abby-normal from Young Frankenstein)

    The beautiful thing is that I am who I am and I like being me. 🙂 (eccentricities, imagination and all.)

    So I’m glad for permission, and I’m glad you’ve gotten permission and lets all be weird on the inside together. 🙂

  4. Good stuff miss. Thanks for the permission! I needed that.

    My weird is that I want to be a LOT of different things. I am just now getting to accept it and embrace it, so thanks again.


    • Maureen /

      ME TOO!
      I spend many years looking around for some reason or a support group to explain what I felt.
      I ALWAYS get a look when I participate in a conversation. Like, “What on earth are you talking about!” and it makes perfect sense to me I just don’t feel like explaining how something someone said triggered a cascade of thoughts…then I opened my mouth at some point in the cascade….
      My life is one huge cascade of inter-related thoughts, events and images and the only person it makes sense to is me.
      My kids and their friends think I’m weird. They seem to like my weirdness. Maybe it’s because they are still young.

  5. The hamster on my imagination wheel eats a ton! So he’s constantly running trying to shake off those extra thousands of pounds.

    I forget that I’m weird. And as I get older, I am speaking my mind more often. Then someone looks at me kinda cross-eyed and I can see them thinking, “Really? Wow! I think I will just back away slowly.” And I think, “Oh, yeah. I’m weird.”

    But I am not at all weird on the outside – uber-normal, white bread, gainfully employed, could pass for a soccer mom type. I would love, love, love to be more exotic – not weird – but more like a flamenco dancer or Kat Von Dee (sp?).

    Steph – I hear ya! Boundaries!?! I think that’s a constant push and pull with creative work.

    Thanks for the permission slip and both posts, Tori. And thanks for letting me spew about my weird non-weirdness here.

  6. Tori Deaux /

    As you can all imagine, I’m just thrilled to hear that this resonates with others. Oh, the Yayness that’s going on in my head!

  7. Hey- I love this. I love the inwardly weird cultural misfit aspect. I’m that too.