My first real job was PR & Promotions assistant in the fashion industry. It involved sponsoring pantihose for fashion shows, gift wrapping a few ‘one-size-fits-all’ pairs for the lucky, lucky-draw winner, and erecting a surfboard-size, polystyrene logo in the most eye-catching spot at the event.

It wasn’t a highly paid job, but it was fun.

What made it interesting though was the weird guy, two doors down. Let’s call him Nigel. Nigel had an unusual mix of tendencies that ensured work life was never boring. Sometimes shocking, sometimes funny, sometimes gross. Not boring.

So that you understand what I mean,

  1. Nigel was into retro crimplene suits, which he wore almost daily. One was maroon. The other mustard.
  2. At lunch one Tuesday, Nigel forkstabbed me over a piece of chicken skin.
  3. He was full of random bits of information, like the best way to catch a guinea fowl (by its wings) and the profit margin on a single cigarette (35-40% excluding distribution costs).
  4. Every day at the appointed hour, he’d grab the Yellow Pages and head off to the Gents.
  5. Nigel would randomly speak in a British accent.
  6. He had two cigarette lighters, which like his ties, he carefully matched to his two outfits. One maroon. One mustard.
  7. When he danced (I had the treat of seeing this a few times) his style would vary between “white guy at the braai” and hip-hop. It was funny to watch the former, agonizing to watch the latter.
  8. Nigel kept large quantities of Nik-Naks in his desk drawer.
  9. One Saturday morning I bumped into Nigel at the Spar. He was in his dressing gown staring at the yoghurts. When he saw me he looked up, grinned and shouted “Hello mom!” Nigel was at least 10 years older than me.
  10. He sometimes dressed in a smurf suit.

Here’s the thing: everybody remembers Nigel. While the merits of his personal brand might be dubious, what made him weird made him memorable.

So, what’s your weird? People that are odd or imperfect are much more interesting than people who travel a neatly manicured path. They make better friends, better entertainers and better business people, because they’re more creative and much, much more courageous.

Maybe, like my cousin, it was your early command of the English language. At age 6 she was heard to say “Why would the burglar purloin that old piece of sh*t?” She’s now one of the country’s most respected journalists, known for her intellectual yet irreverent commentary. Or maybe, like my then-boyfriend’s younger brother, while other boys his age were playing video games, he was rearranging pot plants. He’s now a landscape gardener for London’s elite.

So I urge you – don’t hide your bizarre.

You might be hiding the very thing that makes people fall in love with you. Or employ you. Or in Nigel’s case, baffle you.

C’mon, tell us, what makes you weird?