Three years into my fledgling TV career, I was doing well as a writers’ assistant. I had been in multiple rooms, hadn’t messed up too bad and had a good rapport with my bosses and other writers.
But I didn’t want to be an assistant. I wanted to be a TV writer. I had come so far but there was one huge obstacle in my path.
Yeah. It was me.
Things finally came to a head when my boss pulled me aside one day to tell me that I was “hiding my light under a bushel.”
She saw through my quiet, responsible facade and knew there was more to the story, something authentic inside me that was aching to get out.
Then she shared with me a simple but powerful piece of advice: “you need to find your weird.”
Your weird is like your point of view but more. It is your sense of humor. Your essence. Your soul. It’s the real you.
We’re afraid to show our weird. Afraid people will hate what they see. Afraid it won’t be good enough or funny enough or original enough.
And hey, it might not be. But that’s okay. It has to be okay.
Because your weird is YOU. You can’t have someone else’s. I mean, sure, you can pretend. You can slip on personas and try to be the person you think people want you to be. But living like that is exhausting.
I did this for a long time. At one point I was like six or seven different people. A work me. A husband me. A friend me. A comedy me. A writer me. A family me. A me me.
I didn’t set out to be all these people. I didn’t even really notice that it was happening. I got very good at switching between my personas.
But that switching takes a toll. It fractures you. You feel disintergrated. You feel lost and you can forget who the real you even is.
As an assistant, I could get by not being me, hiding my weird. It’s the type of work that doesn’t demand that you be your authentic self. Typing. Organizing. Getting people’s lunch. Stuff robots will be doiong for us in the next five years anyway.
But I took my job seriously. Even though I was the assistant on a comedy show, I never wanted people to see my weird for fear they would think I was flake. I wanted people to know I was serious, responsible and trustworthy. I was a Good Worker who did a Good Job.
So I hid it. I hid my funny, silly, dumb self. I was afraid that people would think I wasn’t doing a Good Job. Really I was afraid I wouldn’t be good enough. That these professional writers I was assisting would see that and that my career as a TV writer would be over before it started.
But if you want be a writer, you can’t hide your weird. You have to live it.
People sniff out fakers fast. And if even if they don’t, you will die of exhaustion trying to be something you’re not. Your work will suffer because you’ll land in jobs you secretly hate because they’re not you. You’ll present yourself in meetings as someone else and people will know it’s not you. Or worse they won’t know and then expect you to be that person.
This all seems like common sense. Be yourself, right? For me, it wasn’t. I had to find my weird.
I began paying attention to what my mind and body were telling me. The kinds of things that fired up my curiosity and drew me in. The things that filled me up. What made me laugh. And what I was excited to tell other people about.
I refocused my work on ideas that I loved. Ideas that I wanted to write. Again, makes sense on the surface. But approaching your writing with this mindset you’ll be constantly tested. How when you finally write that passion project and it still doesn’t resonate with people. Too niche. Too broad. Won’t sell.
You must stay resolved. Because your work is an extension of you and someone will want your weird. They will want to know what makes you you. And fuck anyone else who doesn’t.
So do your best not to fall in the trap of trying to be something you’re not. Don’t hide your light under a bushel.
Your weird is enough. Now go find it.