Weird is a word I've heard many times in individual and group conversations. 'Oh that's just weird'; 'Don't mind her, she's weird'; 'It's weird, don't you think?' I can't help but remember the schools and daycares I’ve worked with; "You're weird!" the kids would say towards someone or something, not yet knowing how else to explain it. So why do we keep saying it? And what does it mean?
The word weird derives from the German word ‘Wyrd’ meaning ‘destiny’. In Old English, weird was the characteristic of having the power to control destiny. Weird was then altered in Shakespearean literature to describe an unearthly quality, as though someone or something comes from another world. Since then, society has used this word more than ever before. Will I look weird? Will they think I’m weird?
I suggest the way in which weird is currently used often emphasizes the Shakespearean change towards a difference in another not of this world, not true to what's projected as right or moral. As though it cannot, and therefore should not, be attained in humanity; a stigmatization of differences.
Are we still adverse to those who choose to take leadership of their lives? Must we all conform to avoid becoming the unearthly ‘other’ our society has continued to construct? Power to control one’s destiny is the very power we strive towards; to make our own choices, to be proud in our actions, to voice our thoughts. Do we not intend to take charge of how our journey unfolds and our responses to deviations life often brings?
Being weird is being true to ourselves and to the paths we choose to lead.
At 75, Jamie was faced with a fork in her road: choose to mould to the expectations of others or stay true to who she was and wanted to be. She chose to be ‘weird’. She decided how she dressed, her mannerisms and her choice of outward expression, as it reflected her inner self. If that was weird, so be it. As she would say: ‘So what? That's me’. Together we promoted ‘silly day’ to a group of older adults as a day to encourage being oneself without hesitation, a day to let loose and be you. The group had a remarkable response: Why can't everyday be silly day?
Here at TEM the word weird is put it into action. What was an average ‘checklist with a clipboard’ style assessment is no longer. It’s weird, sure, but it ensures each and every individual that uses TEM chooses a pathway that is true to them and one they will want to lead. How? It’s so simple it’s almost hard to believe it isn’t used in every setting in which care is offered. TEM projects its belief that individuals in older age are, through life experience, the experts of their own lives.
Great, but how?
Out with the old and in with the new, assessments become Collaborative Developments. My method approaches assessment with conversation, knowing the only way to best get to know another is by building a trusting two-way rapport, developing a safe and comfortable environment to express oneself openly, and to allow the time is takes to for their words to guide the direction forward.
It certainly is weird, it certainly is not the ‘norm’ and I’m sure to get a lot of funny looks. Lifeworld-led care, although developed ages ago has been linked to a fifth wave of public action, has the capacity to include empathy and dignity into care practices, is the authentic alter ego of patient-led care.
Weird is here and here to stay, so why not embrace its true meaning? What do you choose? 'Yes I'm weird. Yes I'm different. Embracing these differences will allow me to find my inner power to control the destiny of my life.' Or do you choose 'No I'm not weird. I'm the same just like you and everyone else and my destiny is in the hands of you all.' I too choose to be weird.
- Friend, family, founder