I love words because they are so intensely personal. Sometimes I can intelligently discuss what a particular word means to me. Other times, I can only FEEL a word.
I’m thinking right now about the word “quirky”. A lot of autistic people dislike the term because we are often labelled as such before diagnosis as a way of explaining our atypical behaviour. It’s true. I was. Self-described, even. But I’ve always liked it. Yes, I AM quirky and I’ve long thought that it is one of my best traits.
I read this blog post and tried come up with my own definition of the word. I think I came up with something coherent enough to give someone else the general idea of what it means to me, but without entering my mind and having all my experiences as a frame of reference, I could never do the whole picture justice. It’s just something I feel.
That got me thinking as well – how DO I feel the word? It’s not just emotional feelings either. Being an associative/visual thinker, I… feel it’s shape too. That sounds strange, I would assume especially to those that don’t think the same way I do. (Does anyone?) I don’t have language to convey it appropriately, but I can tell you that when I see the word quirky in my mind’s eye, it appears quirky-looking. Best description I can give is “colourful” and “sort of like Curlz font”.
Quirky is beautiful.
My personal definition had the idea of intrigue or mystery in it. Like, someone who is quirky has a draw to them that makes you want to learn more.
Some other thoughts on my definition: I disagree with the author of that post that someone who is quirky is “purposefully weird”. I think quirks are inherent and not intentional or something you can fake. I think being quirky is all the more endearing because it’s not on purpose. It can’t be helped.
My definition also has the idea of self-acceptance baked into it. Maybe you could ignore your quirks but you’re totally fine with them and don’t feel the need to suppress them. I love that and aspire to be the best quirky I can be.
All of that said, I totally understand the other side. Maybe because I don’t yet have that diagnosis to claim as my own, quirky is the best I can do. Maybe because I wasn’t diagnosed as a child and had to endure “quiet hands“, I don’t have the negative connotations other people might. Being called quirky as a child gave me the freedom to be more me. When I did something ‘unusual’, someone would chalk it up to a quirk and let me be.
The one thing I don’t like about the word quirky is that every time I try to type it, I accidentally hit w instead of q and have to go back and fix it. Argh.
(written sometime in late 2016)