I’ve told the story before of why I’m Strange. (https://strangedavid.wordpress.com/2012/02/12/why-im-strange/)
About half the people who are regularly in my life call me that. For many of them, it was (and/or is) a difficult transition; I really only committed to being Strange publicly less than two years ago (I think). Many people still call me David. Some, who have known me for maybe a decade or more, still call me Dave, which is what I used to insist on. That seems like lifetimes ago, now.
(Side note: if you met me within the past nine years at least, I introduced myself as David. I’ve signed e-mails and books as David. I’ve referred to myself as David. When did you decide to make me Dave? I don’t mind, but it baffles me every time. If you call yourself Kimberly, I’m not going to randomly decide that you’re Kim.)
I really do feel like when I’m going by Strange, I’m more honest, and even more (lower-case s) strange. All the goofy, wacky things that I used to do when I was much younger? David doesn’t do those. Strange does. Things that stand out? Strange. Things that allow me to hide behind normality so you won’t pay as much attention to me? David.
I can’t really explain this. It’s clearly not actual multiple personalities… but there are times that it feels like I’m playing dual roles, and heaven forbid I let some Strange sneak into David or vice versa.
It’s not that David is without his charm. David has normal social conversations, and can manage small talk with customers on the phone. (That helps keep David employed, incidentally, and David definitely likes having income.) David can fake his way through everyday interactions. Strange, meanwhile, is inside screaming to come out.
Strange is the one who would pull practical jokes. Strange is the one who texts poop references to his friends, not because he thinks they’re really all that funny, but because the mental image of his friends checking their texts during important meetings and finding out it’s something really ridiculous with a terrible, stupid pun on the word “feces” makes him crack up.
David won’t even put potato chips inside his sandwich.
David is the one who became normal because standing out hurt.
Strange is the one who avoids normal because normal hurts worse.
A friend of mine has indicated that she thinks there’s got to be some way to “fuse” the two personalities (I don’t know why I put that in quotes — I don’t think that was her actual word). Some way for me to just be comfortable in my own skin all the time, so that I didn’t have to give myself the constant reminder that it’s okay to be strange by being Strange.
But sometimes I think maybe Strange is selfish. I am a firm believer that there is such a thing as social responsibility — that people who only ever try to make themselves happy are probably doing the world a disservice. That the idea that you should never sacrifice even an iota of “who you are” for someone else leads to never sacrificing a moment of your time concerning yourself with others at all.
I’m sure it’s no big deal when Strange puts potato chips in his sandwich. (Frankly, I’m pretty sure David could get away with it, but David feels obligated to half-apologize for doing something different. Strange tears off a piece and puts it in your mouth so you have to try it.)
And Strange doesn’t always mean being a circus clown, either. I don’t feel the need to act differently when I’m Strange — I feel the need to be honest, and if that means that people think I’m weird, whatever. I’m not compelled to jump up on my chair in the bar and sing along with the music… but I’m not scared to do it if I feel so moved.
(Incidentally, neither Strange nor David tend to dance. It seems like Strange would, doesn’t it?)
What I need, I think, is to just give myself permission to be impulsive.
And when I go by Strange, I do that almost automatically. I have more fun as Strange.
I have, very seriously, considered making the name change legal. (David has some very strong ideas for why this is a bad idea.)
I don’t think I have a snappy ending for this blog. I just… I just get tired of being David sometimes. For those of you who have made the transition to calling me Strange, thank you; it really has helped me start to figure out how to be more real.