Normalcy, Quirkiness and Authenticity

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As an artist, I have long considered myself as not being “normal.” Not being satisfied with the status quo, not being a person who has a “normal” job or a “normal” life. I’ve thought of myself as eccentric, quirky, and maybe a little weird. And I’ve been okay with that. Mostly.

But I was giving this some thought this morning as I was waking up and I was thinking that being weird for weird’s sake is just as gross as Amy Poehler’s character inĀ Mean Girls:

Cool Mom meme

Hint: If you have to tell people you’re cool, you’re not. If you have to tell people you’re weird, don’t worry – they already know, and probably not in the way you mean. Both are examples of trying too hard.

If you are making music and your interpretation is different from the standard interpretation and it feels organic to you, then it is authentic and it’s okay.

If you are making music and you decide you’re going to be cutting edge for the sake of being cutting edge so you can get a rise out of someone, it might not be.

Rebellion to prompt an emotional response in order to effect change is good.

Rebellion to prompt an emotional response or provoke outrage without any kind of lasting effect or change is a tantrum. You’re just puking out your emotions and leaving them there for someone else to clean up. (How’s thatĀ for an image?)

Going back to my previous blogpost and Alan Alda’s wonderful line, “Unless I’m willing to be changed by you, I’m probably not listening” — if you are taking action without regard for what the outcome will be, then it’s not a process, it’s just a drive-by.

You don’t have to be “quirky” to get things done and feel things deeply. You have what people consider to be a normal life and still be an artist. You can be eccentric and still have your shallow, superficial moments (I do, more often than I want to admit).

As an artist, as a person, as a teacher, the most important thing I can be, for myself, for my family, for my students, is authentic.

[I wrote this on Tuesday and saw this post by Seth Godin one day later.]