Never too weird

One of the things we always end up doing at steampunk events is trying to come up with pithy explanations for what steampunk is. There are always curious people with questions. And for every steampunk there’s a different answer – much as there’s a lot of diversity when Pagans try to explain what Paganism is.

It struck me that one of the things steampunk is, is a space where no one will ever judge you for being too weird. I didn’t look especially Victorian when this occurred to me – I was wearing a hand made waistcoat inspired by Japanese boro and sashiko, some knickerbocker type trousers and some devil horns. These days I mostly go to steampunk events wearing my clothes, rather than having specific steampunk attire. It seems to work.

I’m used to being too weird. It’s come up a lot during my life. I’m too emotional, too intense and also too emotionally unavailable (good, isn’t it?). I’ve spent a lot of time finding round holes in which to be an awkward square peg. I’ve been told off for giving too much, caring too much, trying too hard. I’ve been told how I hug is weird. There’s very little about me that hasn’t faced serious criticism at some point, and it does make me socially anxious. 

Steampunk gatherings are spaces where I don’t feel socially anxious. Part of that is having the confidence that no one is going to accuse me of being too-anything or have a problem with me on those terms. I would be prepared to bet that being too-something is an issue I have in common with a lot of steampunks. For everyone else, the desire to be polite and inclusive will incline them to be less judgy anyway. 

I’m seeing ever more memes online that suggest if people demand that you be smaller, you tell them to find someone else for that. It’s a new thought for me. Perhaps I don’t owe it to anyone to turn up as a small, comfortable thing for their benefit. There are spaces where I don’t have to be small to fit in. There are people who are neither offended nor intimidated by enthusiasm, passion, delight, silliness or anything else I might happen to have going on. There is charm in being around people who are at least as bonkers as I am.

I’ve spent a long time carrying all of this as a failing in myself. I was fourteen when my first boyfriend told me that I was too serious and too much and he turned out to be the first of many. I’ve been trying to tuck parts of myself in, to be tidier and more acceptable ever since – but I’m not very good at it. I’m used to thinking of how I am as being likely to cause offence, that I am inherently flawed and difficult to put up with. But not for everyone. In recent years I’ve started to figure out who my people are. I don’t hang around so much for the ones who might grudgingly accept me and I no longer feel grateful to the people who manage that grudging acceptance.

In steampunk spaces, people do not judge each other for being too weird, and that’s wonderful and liberating and I’m very glad of it. Good things happen when we make more space for each other. Especially when we make room for delight and enthusiasm that doesn’t show up in the ways we’re used to. I’m tired of joylessness, of cynicism and apathy being benchmarks for being a proper grownup.

About Nimue Brown

Druid, author, dreamer, folk enthusiast, parent, polyamourous animist, ant-fash, anti-capitalist, bisexual steampunk. Drinker of coffee, maker of puddings. Exploring life as a Pagan, seeking good and meaningful ways to be, struggling with mental health issues and worried about many things. View all posts by Nimue Brown

2 responses to “Never too weird

  • potiapitchford

    Embrace the weird! But gently unless they ask for deep squeezy hugs and always ask first anyway 😉😊

  • Christopher Blackwell

    Being a loner by nature, I have rarely wanted of tried to fit in. I have never understood the society tht I lived and finally gave up trying to understand. My reaction to most anything, including dying is likely going to be off kilter. My social needs are rather little as well. Not having to deal with but a few people means less unneeded stress for me to deal with. Works out great for a bipolar person like me.

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