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Curiosities, Perspectives

Great British Eccentrics

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Zayna Ratty
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So, it feels like this might be it, a re-emergence of the world, bleary eyed, full of sourdough, and some of us have slightly more to love than when we retreated into our bubbles last March. During this time, we have navigated our way to finding things out about ourselves that we had long since forgotten or hidden. We have cycled through differing degrees of struggle over the last year and although we have been encouraged to find community, we have been conditioned to segregate and be individualistic.

My vertical thought for this Best of British month is if there’s one thing our fine land is good at, it’s that we are quietly proud to lead the world in eccentrics.

Eccentric doesn’t necessarily mean weird, it’s actually derived from Latin and simply means ‘away from the centre’. So why embrace our inner eccentricity and how could that even help us going forward?

Even if you aren’t the 1 in 5,000 true eccentrics you can still embrace your eccentric tendencies. For example, I don’t eat anything flavoured pink… think about it and it makes sense, I have a fondness for Garfield, and have spent the last 12 months in furry socks.

Psychiatrist David Weeks, in their work ‘Eccentrics: A Study of Sanity and Strangeness’, noticed that eccentrics tend to be healthier and significantly happier along with being diverse yet having commonality of characteristics. There can be safety found in non-conformity and the abundance of creativity, accompanied by the curious and innate ability to be playful with ideas and concepts. With eccentricity comes benefits such as being less likely to visit a doctor, more likely to live a longer happy life, and a suggestion of a better functioning immune system. Weeks found that eccentrics tend to be optimistic people with a highly developed feeling of difference, a streak of idealism, mischievous sense of humour, and drive to make the world a better place. 

With this ability to think, look and feel outside the box, to throw jelly at a wall and see if it sticks, to push the envelope of ideas and conventions, eccentrics could hold the key to everyone’s happiness.

There will always be people who expect you to toe the line. Well, by choosing to embrace your own inner eccentric you could be doing everyone a favour by leading us away from conformity towards acceptance of individuality. So, who could we aspire to and use as mentors for our inner eccentricity? Look at Grayson Perry and their wife Philippa Perry who happens to be a psychotherapist.

What do you have about you, that you may have discovered during lockdown, that you can embrace and love? Those quirks, those things that make you, you.

Be away from the centre. Be happy. Be eccentric.

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