‘Weird’ by Olga Khazan

Released just last month, Olga Khazan’s first book, Weird: The Power of Being an Outsider in an Insider World, is all about the surprising strength that comes from embracing your own…well, weirdness. The primary thrust of the book is essentially one question: Is being “weird” really such a bad thing?

I’m sure you can guess her conclusion, but here’s the description anyway:

Most of us have at some point in our lives felt like an outsider, considering ourselves too weird to fit in. Growing up as a Russian immigrant in West Texas, Olga Khazan always felt there was something different about her. This feeling permeated her life, and as she embarked on a science writing career, she realized there were psychological connections between this feeling of being an outsider and both her struggles and successes later in life. She decided to reach out to other people who were unique in their environments to see if they had experienced similar feelings of alienation, and if so, how they overcame them.

Weird explores why it is that we crave conformity, how that affects people who are different. Khazan explores the causes behind—and the consequences of—social rejection, but she also finds the hidden upsides to being “weird.” Weird provides actionable insights on issues like social anxiety and impostor syndrome based on interviews with dozens of experts and a review of hundreds of scientific studies.

Feeling like an outsider at times is part and parcel of the human condition, and it’s something we all have to deal with in one form or another. The people interviewed for the book managed to find insights in their own “otherness,” turning those things into advantages that helped them triumph in the face of adversity. There’s no reason you can’t do the same.

If you’ve ever enjoyed Khazan’s writing at The Atlantic, then you’ll like this book too.

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