I was in the kitchen at work last week, washing the cereal bowl I had used and thinking about my pickiness when it comes to washing dishes. Like everyone I wash my own dishes after using them, but unlike them I keep my dishes in the same section of the kitchen that I keep my food. This to ensure that I use dishes that I have washed because people have different ways of washing dishes, some I’m cool with and some I’m not. Is that picky and ridiculous to some? Absolutely, but what hit me last week is that I’m ok with being a germaphobe. Compare this to last year: when a colleague casually asked me why I keep my things separately I was caught off guard because I didn’t think my habits had been noticed, and I was preoccupied about how weird she must think I am.
But if asked today I’d say “Oh, it’s a quirk of mine: I’m incredibly picky about how my dishes are washed so this is what I do”. No apologies, no excuses, just the truth. In the work environment especially, there’s a pressure (sometimes subtle, sometimes not, depending on the industry) to fit in by doing things the way the people who have the power to affect your progress in the company do it, whether it’s working the same hours, dressing similarly, or using a similar similar vocabulary or manner of speaking. This can make it hard to be yourself in that environment.
Owning your quirk doesn’t have to mean you call everyone’s attention to it or tell people that the way they do things is wrong, it’s more about being ok with your peculiarities. Being a jerk and excusing it by saying “this is who I am” isn’t quite the same thing. Even writing about this illustrates what I’m trying to say: sometimes with a personal blog there’s the feeling that you have to share something big or exciting in order for it to be worth posting, and it has stopped me from writing in the past, as my many saved drafts will confirm. But it’s past time to just do you, whether that means never wearing socks, drinking your coffee only when it’s cold, or eating food combinations that some find weird. Life is too short to only do what you think you’re expected to do.
Your turn: if you dare, share one or more of your quirks. Have you learned to own it or does it make you self-conscious?