This is a guest post from Sasha Cagen.
His profile said that he liked to collect balloons. Once I got to the words “collect balloons,” I knew. This was not the average guy on OKCupid. Most guys do not like to collect balloons, and if they did they would not have the courage to say so in an online dating profile. This guy was quirky. I had found a kindred spirit.
There are probably few women who would get excited by a man who likes to collect balloons, but since I love the quirky, I was intrigued. My quirkydar was activated.
Quirkydar is the ability to recognize the quirky in another person.
It’s like gay-dar (radar) but for quirky people. By “quirky,” I mean people who do not even seem to have the ability to camouflage their individuality or passions. They just seem to be uncontrollably themselves. My quirkydar lights up when I meet someone whom I feel may be important as a friend, collaborator, or kindred spirit—at the least, we will have a good conversation. Neither of us will be hiding who we are.
Quirkydar is largely a feeling, but there may be signs. Just as members of the gay community used color handkerchiefs to indicate sexual preferences, quirky people can have their own codes: mismatched or colorful socks, a unique tattoo, asymmetrical hair, or a million other small things that show us the internal on the external. (Those signs can be misleading. This spirit can live inside a conservative-looking exterior and people wearing quirky fashion can be anything but.)
My quirkydar has gotten sharp over the years. With my Belgian friend Griet I knew when I first saw her bounding down the street in Cali, Colombia, in bright-white high top sneakers. Her bright smile as well as the sneakers tipped me off: We were meant to be friends. We discovered tango together in Colombia of all places and then traveled together to Buenos Aires for two months.
Developing your quirkydar makes life more magical because you start to connect with your fellow travelers in life.
It’s also a process of learning to develop your own quirkiness and put it out there. So quirky souls can pick up on each other.
A woman is subletting my apartment in Oakland right now while I am in Buenos Aires. We have never met in person. She started subletting after my first renter had to leave. I interviewed her via Skype. When she visited the apartment, she saw my books about the neuroscience of relationship and romantic love and got excited. She’s in grad school focused on these topics. We started talking about our shared fascination on Skype.
After we worked through the logistics of the sublet, I sent her an email and said, “Hey, I have an intuition there may be something more here for us to explore together in our shared interests: something about writing or teaching together.” I worked up my courage to send the mail. Maybe I was wrong. Maybe she would think I was nuts. She responded quickly that she had the same feeling. Who knows what will happen, but more is possible in life because we sensed rare common interests—and we both expressed our excitement—and let intuition guide the way.
I think a lot about Quirkydar these days because I am gearing up to teach an online course called Get Quirky, a 30-day course to celebrate the quirky in you. When you cultivate the quirky parts of you, you make your quirkyness visible to others.
Life gets more creative and magical, connected and collaborative as you connect with the people you are meant to meet.
When we get playfully quirky, we automatically get more self-accepting, creative, and enjoy our lives more.
It’s best to develop these unique parts of ourselves with other quirky people to support us, so this is a group program. Come join us! Your quirkydar will be on overdrive.
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Sasha Cagen is author of Quirkyalone: A Manifesto for Uncompromising Romantics and To-Do List: From Buying Milk to Finding a Soul Mate, What Our Lists Reveal About Us. She is currently teaching Get Quirky, a 30-day safari of quirky to cultivate your spark and share it with the world. Learn more about Get Quirky at sashacagen.com.