“Stay weird, stay different”
“When I was 16, I tried to kill myself because I felt weird and I felt different and I felt like I did not belong.” These are the words of Graham Moore, Oscar winner, with the eyes of the world upon him, in his acceptance speech.
To make yourself vulnerable is never easy. But, we’ve become accustomed to Oscar speeches being emotional things. As genuinely felt as the sentiments might be, they are normally a parade of clichés, “I want to thank my mom…the director…my agent.”
They are seen as their condition, rather than the condition being seen as a just a part of the whole person they are. The fact that this part is often seen as a weakness, rather than acknowledging the incredible strength people display – is a sting after the slap.
Happens to anyone
Moore showed the world that mental health issues can affect anyone and there is always a way back. He gave the middle finger to those who view others as being less than something because they’re different.
It’s something were not told enough. Everyday, in every possible way, we are nudged to conformity. In our jobs, social situations, our peers’ and societies’ expectations of us.
What is normal?
In all honesty, what is this notion of “normal” we hold up to compare those who are “different” against? It doesn’t exist. There’s no normal. But, we are fed different versions of what it should be, whether it’s how we’re meant to look, what we’re meant to think, the things we’re meant to enjoy.
Anything that treads beyond the realm of “normal” is treated suspiciously.
The truth is, it’s our differences that make us exceptional. Our weirdness sets us apart!
It’s all these little things that make you you, and you are not alone.
Striking a chord
I feel a particular poignancy at Moore’s words, for so many reasons. Because of my own personal history with mental health issues. Because of the many people I know and care about who have suffered in silence.
Because as an Irish person, my country has a heart-breakingly high rate of youth suicide. Particularly with young men.
In a ceremony that dealt with a range of “causes” with a capital C, from wage inequality to degenerative illness, this speech stood apart from the rest.
It struck a massive crack in the taboo around mental health. Moore told the world he had experienced darkness, and it was nothing to be ashamed of. That if you are different, there is always somewhere you belong.
His tenacity of openly encouraging us all to stay different will remain, long after the statuettes have started collecting dust.
Say it with me now: “Yes you do. I promise you. Stay weird and stay different”.