Here’s the thing: there really are things about you, traits, mannerisms, a style, which are wholly “you.” Those idiosyncrasies, which are unique to you, possibly irksome to others, are what I call your “freak flag.” Most of us walk around either tripping on our own freak flag or hiding it. Though, I am thinking, there really is no flying a freak flag half-mast. We’re here to either fly it, fix it, or fold it up.
About four years ago, I discovered my own freak flag oddly folded.
It was a few days before Burning Man (which, if you don’t know, is an art festival in the Nevada desert). Each year, I run a life coaching camp (okay, it’s more like I invite many, more than run it). Before heading to camp, a bunch of us got our hair done: wool dreadlocks, sparkles, beads … you name it, we donned it. Giddily, I decided to put feathers in my hair. I loved them. My husband, far from a pushover, loved them too. I was totally tickled with my new look until I remembered that I had to attend a friend’s 50th birthday party sporting my new look. The party was a sophisticated, semi-formal event with people I didn’t know. Suddenly, I was worried. Worse, I was back in high school, and worse(r), I wasn’t even self-conscious back then. I considered not going to the party.
Of course I went…
And, there I was, spending most of the night explaining Burning Man and my feathers to everyone at the party. Mind you, not because they asked. Most didn’t even notice the feathers. Clearly, it wasn’t they that had the issue with the feathers. It was I who needed to either fly my feathered freak flag or burn it. Once I got the joke, that I was being a freak about my freak flag, I started to lighten up and make fun of myself for caring so much about what others (or I myself) thought.
It gets better.
I came back from Burning Man, only to have to wait five more days for the woman who put in my feathers to take them out. During those five days, once again, I had to get over myself and my high school-aged head noise and be the person I honestly was and wanted to be.
The feathers have been in my hair for over 5 years now.
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That was just one way I dealt and flew a particular freak flag. There are obviously many variations of freak flags. Some are equally as quirky as mine and others, well, not so much. In the business arena, there are simply some freak flags that people would rather you keep folded.
Much to the dismay of some, I fly my freak flag there too.
You see, I’m not such a big fan of reading emails. I read client homeworks, of course. But, every day, email after email, not so much. And yes, some people find it annoying.
Here’s the thing. Rather than feeling bad about it or suffering, I own it and manage it with the people in my life. Everyone who knows me and works with me, knows this fact about me. I don’t hide it for one minute. I am upfront, honest, and accountable for it. And I make sure that everyone knows how to reach me. The good old fashioned way. By phone.
I dare you to get daring about your freak flag and fly it responsibly and proudly.
STEPS ON HOW TO OWN YOUR FREAK FLAG AND FIND YOUR VOICE
- Make a list of what you’re simply not going to change about yourself.
- Accept your freak flag. Make peace with it. Have a sense of humor about it. And, if it turns out that your freak flag is something you are not proud of, change it. Suffering about it and keeping it is a form of double dipping.
- If you’re keeping your freak flag, then get telling everyone about it. Get it out in the open. And if you need to manage it with the people in your life, do so. Fly your freak flag but don’t flap it in people’s faces.
- Once you see your own freak flag, make a list of complaints you may have about other people’s freak flags that you need to accept. If you can’t accept their quirks, then get honest about that too.
Flying your freak flag is about being true and honest with yourself and others. It’s about being accountable for what you love, and aren’t changing about yourself, and about taking care of the people around you who simply might not be your freak’s biggest fan.
P.S. Learning to fly your freak flag freely can take practice. Find support and design a plan for all areas of your life at an upcoming Design Your Life weekend Feb 2 and 3 in New York City.