She told me that. The one who knows me the best. Maybe besides my mother, but I’m not even sure about that.

That I’m weird. And because she knows me the best, it has to be true. Not that she would mind, she got used to it. But she told me that others do mind. People in my immediate vicinity. People that I meet. And mainly new people, the ones that don’t really know me yet.

She told me that I’ll have a hard time in Korea – because I’m weird. I won’t find friends easily.

But what exactly does it mean to be weird?

To be weird means to be friendly to people you don’t know

I’m weird, because I’m friendly to people as soon as I meet them. We aren’t friends yet. Honestly, I often don’t even remember their names, but I treat them like I had known them for a long time. I’m nice to them and trust them. And some of them exploit that occasionally. And this is why it should be wrong.

To be weird means to unintentionally insult others

I meet a new person. We talk, have a good time and everything is fine. And then I say something that the other person interprets completely differently from what I meant. Simply put, the person takes it personally. I’m said to do it often and that’s why people don’t like me.

Fine, maybe I sometimes say things that have a bigger impact than I realize. I should be more careful with my words. But that doesn’t mean that people should write me off and never say a word to me again.

Each person is different and has different fears and is sensitive to completely different things. What one person absolutely doesn’t mind, could drive someone else crazy. And how are you supposed to know that something might drive others crazy, if you have just met them and you don’t know anything about them? Does it mean that we should say something only if we know for sure that it won’t insult anyone or make anyone angry? That we should be populists? That we can never keep a purposeful conversation going? Certainly not.

When I notice a person’s reaction is different from that of what I expected, and for example, if the person takes a joke too seriously, I try to explain what I really meant to say. Or I just apologize and say that I didn’t mean it in the way that he/she understood it. I believe that every normal person, who is respectful and doesn’t take everything seriously, can comprehend this.

To be weird means to not know how to read people

I’m told that I am not able to read people’s intentions. Maybe it’s true, but I don’t have a clue if some can do it better than others. Maybe women, who have far better intuition than men?

I really don’t know. And it doesn’t drive me crazy. As I’ve already written, just because someone has deceived me, doesn’t mean that I won’t believe in people anymore. I know that good people are deceived and cheated more than others, but I prefer being a good person who gets occasionally deceived and lives a happy life, than to being a person who is always on guard and doesn’t trust people and their intentions. I believe in karma and that those who deceive and mislead will get deceived and misled sooner or later.

Of course, when it comes to  business and/or lots of money, it’s necessary to always be cautious. But when it comes to my personal life and distinguishing if someone is honest with me or not, I don’t deal with it that much. When I realize that they really aren’t what they played to be, I do change my behavior towards them, but I’m not going to be on guard 24/7 and constantly be checking the people around me.

To be weird means to dress differently from the other people

Yes, I want to look good. Yes, I want people to like me. But I won’t sacrifice everything for it. I’ll wear what I want to. And when people find it weird or unusual, then it’s their problem. People should respect themselves and not just constantly compare and judge others.

But when I travel this is an exception. When I’m in a foreign country I try to adjust a little to their dressing style. But not always and not under all circumstances. It’s still me, even if I’m currently in a different country – and that’s the most important thing.

To be weird means to smile when others don’t

I tremendously enjoy taking walks along the streets when I’m abroad; whether they were the wide streets of Sydney, Australia, the narrow streets of an old city like Chiang Mai, Thailand or currently the streets full of neon lights in Busan, South Korea. Every time I walk in a city, I look at people’s faces and smile. The more grumpy people I see the more I smile. Because in contrast to them, I’m happy. Even when I’m walking around a city while it’s raining. And when someone smiles back at me, I’m even happier.

I don’t compare myself to them. I don’t think to myself that I’m better or that I’ve achieved more than them. But I know, that at any given moment my life is brighter than theirs – whatever the reason is. Maybe my smile will help them to have a better day. Or maybe they’ll say that I’m weird because I smile at strangers. The former will improve their mood, the latter won’t. But the decision is up to them.

Conclusion

She didn’t blame me for being myself. She wanted to help me. She just pointed out a given problem and I pushed her to where she had to tell me more. And she did just that.

That day was terrible. I felt really down. I couldn’t identify with the fact that being friendly could repulse people. I thought that being friendly is good. I thought that I did not have a problem finding new friends. I thought that people like me. But this conversation changed it all and I felt truly down.

I couldn’t sleep that night and I couldn’t focus on work the next morning. I didn’t know how to solve this problem. I knew that my personality had significantly changed over the last years, and I believe that I’ve changed for the better. I didn’t have a clue that I still have a long way to go.

And then I realized something.

What she told me is just one person’s opinion. And just because the person knows me well, doesn’t mean that her advice is the only correct advice.

Another person’s opinion of you isn’t a reflection of you, but of them. It’s not a reflection of your values, but of theirs.

I realized that what she has advised me to do, is the exact opposite of what I want to do and what I stand for. I want to be nice to people. I want to help, even when I get nothing in return. I think it’s worth it. And I have it in black and white in my manifesto, for already over a year.

I want to improve and grow as a person, but I don’t want to be a walking robot without any emotions. I don’t want people to like me at all costs.

 

I’m weird… and I’m proud of it.

 

P.S.: The conversation, which I mention in the article happened probably during my second week in Busan. Now I’ve been here for 6 weeks already and I have plenty of friends – as many of you have seen from my photos on Facebook. Yes, being yourself is worth it.

Lubo Jurik

August 14th, 2014

In a high-speed train KTX from Busan to Seoul