I've often been described as an eccentric, along with all the positive and negative synonyms one can find in a standard thesaurus. I've always been divided about that: for one, I revel in my eccentricities, mostly because to not do so would no doubt facilititate my descent into insanity. However, I am a faithful follower of Yossarian, Catch-22's great prophet, who firmly believed that he was the only sane person alive, and that everyone else was crazy. I first read that book when I was sixteen, and nothing in the past twenty years has tempted me to turn from that axiom.
I have found that the harder folks strive towards social norms, the more dirty little idiosyncracies they're hiding. (I now call this the "BTK Rule.") Obviously there are certain back roads that are best not explored or lit up, but these are because of humanitarian considerations, not social ones. If you want to run naked down Michigan Avenue screaming "Eureka!", for instance, fine with me; if you run down Michigan Avenue ripping strangers' clothes off and forcing them to run naked, then I do have objections to that. (There are those who might object to someone running naked in public, believing that such exposure to, say, children, is harmful. These people are lunatics.) I find it healthy, both for the individual and for society, for eccentricities be both expressed and flaunted for the public eye. When society stifles eccentricity, it invites confusion, self doubt, and the blossoming of neuroses far darker and more corrosive than the original deviation. It is no surprise that the U.S. is easily the most neurotic nation on Earth.
Is there a danger? Of course. If everyone expressed their eccentricities, then they would become common and thus "normal." Take homosexuals: until relatively recently, the sight of two men or two women holding hands as they walked down a crowded sidewalk, even in Chicago, would invite stares and/or glares in their direction. Nowadays, this has become so commonplace in many areas of the country, nobody even blinks if they're wrapped around each other, snatching a kiss. (Some gays and lesbians lament this, feeling the social "normalization" of homosexuality has somehow taken something away from them. Of course it has: one-dimensional, boring folks can't use homosexuality alone to generate attention anymore. Live with it.)
Sure, public recognition and display of eccentricities would make these more "normal" in society and its owners less "special." This is how it should be. My eccentricities do not make me "special" or "unique" - they simply define me as an individual human being. Stifling my eccentricities subtract from that definition and thus make me less "me." So much emotional pain is inflicted on our own souls through trying to make entire chunks of them invisible. Furthermore, stifling eccentricities makes them invisible to others, including those who may share them, leading to the Big Lies that they are "alone in the universe" and "nobody can understand me." Those Big Lies have led to more psychotic episodes than any imbalance in the biochemical soup inside our heads.
Yes, I have some idiosyncracies. Yes, I am public about them. I have garnered sufficient wisdom in my thirty-six years to understand them, and to take neither pride nor shame in them. They simply are, and they help define simple me.