When I was in college, I had a marketing professor who sat cross-legged on top of his desk when he lectured. This was only, of course, when he wasn’t walking around the room telling funny stories, proclaiming himself our king, and making us shift our seats throughout a session so we would “see things from a new perspective.” Yes, he was attempting to keep us awake, interested and learning, but this was who he really was. He was fascinating. He was quirky. He was eccentric… and we adored him.
I’ve been exposed to eccentrics throughout my life and they’ve consistently been my favorite people. There was a music teacher who dressed in bold colors and oversized jewelry, and traveled around the world collecting personal artifacts and sharing stories of her adventures; a shop owner who treated every square inch of her tiny restaurant and cars as psychedelic canvases, kept a pet monkey, and came to work in a leotard and overalls with royal purple hair; and an uncle who didn’t hold a “real job,” preferring instead to travel around photographing things.
Why have I loved these people? Beyond the value of fascination and entertainment, I’ve come to the conclusion that it’s because I envy them. After all, it seems they are governed by a different set of rules, aren’t they? They seem happier, more fulfilled and free. Eccentrics seem to dance to music that the rest of us can’t hear. The words “shouldn’t” and “never” aren’t part of their vocabulary and, though they have been responsible people, their responsibilities don’t seem to weigh them down. Eccentric people make an impression. They inspire us. They make a difference. Most important of all, they’re experts at authenticity – at being themselves – which is something we could all use more of in our own lives.