How To Be A Judicious Eccentric
You are a man with political and social views that are not easily categorized. Your liberal friends think you a right-wing reactionary; your conservative friends see you as a liberal lunatic. You feel as comfortable shooting the breeze with a pot-head hipster as you do sitting down to tea with a respectable elder citizen. You are comfortable in multiple realms of thought—as at home discussing the theory of evolution as you are quoting lines from Shakespeare and Moliere. You have been known to get up the most extreme indignation on a range of issues, and to throw yourself wholeheartedly into controversies seemingly unrelated to one another.
You are not reckless, nor do you act and speak with the intent to baffle and surprise. Indeed, you are a rather sober-minded man, who recognizes the value of reason and logic as much as that of energy and passion. You cannot be pigeonholed or dismissed as a standard this or that. You are a free and independent spirit, a man who refuses to have his tastes and opinions dictated to him by any creed, dogma, ideology, or fashion. You are a judicious eccentric—one of the rarest species of manhood extant.
Everyone likes to think they’re different, unique, or special in some way. The thing is you know you are and always have been. In fact, you probably have trouble making new friends, while your bonds with your old ones have always been solid. That is because you are loyal and dependable and accept people as they are.
You are decent, kind, and friendly. The trouble is you’re also a puzzle. Humans instinctively look for pattern, system, and order, and when they cannot discern any, especially in other humans, they turn their attention elsewhere—towards what they know. The fact that people can’t figure you out makes it hard for anyone to want to get close to you. That is why, as a judicious eccentric, you have remained a loner.
You should know that your way of thinking and feeling puts you in good company. Among those who deserve to be called judicious eccentrics are John Jay Chapman, Albert J. Nock, H.L. Mencken, Bayard Rustin, and the late Christopher Hitchens. Nearly all of these men lived their lives in the public sphere. At various times, they took positions that we now consider wrong or immoral; but most of the time they were championing causes that are now seen as right. John Jay Chapman, for example, became one of the most crazed anti-Catholic bigots in America during the 1920s. But he also spent the whole of his adult life fighting against discrimination and violence towards black people.
Such contradictions and inconsistencies are typical—perhaps the only things that are typical—of a judicious eccentric. However, your originality can be unnerving to those around you. While you cannot change who you are, and should not want to in any case, there are ways to reduce the discomfort felt by others.
As a judicious eccentric, you keep yourself well-informed and have intelligent, substantive, and fact-based views on a wide range of issues. Most people feel threatened by truly enlightened minds. To keep conversation friendly and easy, do your best to draw out what others know about a particular subject. This can be hard when the topic is centered on an issue you care deeply about; but if you say all that you have to say on the matter, those around you will feel left out and you will effectively kill the discussion.
Another practice you should adopt to become more sociable is to resist going into extensive discourses on your Facebook page. Instead, post articles of interest and complement them with brief (1-2 sentences) comments. When the inevitable stupid ass response is made to what you said, let it go. If you need an outlet for your opinions, join closed groups populated by people who share your interests. A blog will also give you a place from which you can launch your opinions into the world.
Your work colleagues and individuals in your immediate community fear your exceptional abilities and your independent character. They will ignore you by not interacting with you when they don’t need to. You will want to reciprocate. Do so, but you should also make an effort to attend the social events you are invited to. That will show them that the pettiness and jealousy are all on their side.
About Christopher Reid Chris was born in Washington, D.C. and lives in Britain. He works as a blogger, essayist, and novelist. His first book, Tea with Maureen, has just been published.