Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Fly Your Freak Flag

For any of you wondering what the heck this blog is about, hang in there.

Consider the following with respect to flying your freak flag.

On March 21, 2008, ‘freak flag’ was named the Urban Word of the Day, according to

How is ‘freak flag ‘defined?

It is a characteristic, mannerism, or appearance of a person, either subtle or overt, which implies unique, eccentric, creative, adventurous or unconventional thinking. Some of you might recognize it in the following explanation, taken from the movie The Family Stone,

“You have a freak flag, you just don’t fly it.”

David Crosby refers to long hair as a freak flag in his song Almost Cut My Hair, "I feel like letting my freak flag fly."

Another definition is letting loose, being down with your cool self, especially in front of a group of strangers -- your inner self that wants to come out, but often is suppressed, from social anxiety.

How do I simply translate it?

Nobody is perfect, everyone has a freak flag.

And a freak flag, contrary to how you might interpret it, is not a negative thing.

‘Flying’ it is ultimately about embracing you are, all of your colorful, unique, eccentric, creative parts, and letting others see that.

Throughout my professional life, as both a practicing physician and teacher, I’ve run across so many people who don’t let their true selves shine. Maybe they’re concerned about what others will think or fear their own judging inner voice. Perhaps they’ve tried flying their freak flag before and been criticized, ridiculed, laughed at, or ignored. Maybe they’re unsure of what exactly their unique mannerism or characteristic is. While not everyone struggles with identifying and flying their freak flag, most people, unfortunately, continue to keep a part of themselves from the world, month after month, year after year.

So what do to do?

First, realize that everyone has a freak flag. Yes, everyone has unique attributes that the world is actually waiting to see and experience.

I’m reminded of a quote at the beginning of Eckhart Tolle’s book The Power of Now, “You are here to enable the divine purpose of the universe to unfold. That is how important you are!”

Start by embracing who you are – your life story (all the ups and downs of it), your different life stages, your challenges, your triumphs. Comparing yourself to others will get you nowhere fast emotionally. Instead, use that energy to draw up a description of the ways in which you see yourself as creative, adventurous, etc. (enlist the help of your close friends and family if you have a tough time with this).

Second, stop holding yourself back for fear of what others will think.

Step boldly forward, waving your flag. You’ll find people will appreciate and support you – trust that. I’ll share with you one of my freak flag moments from my college days.

I was lead singer of an air band (I use the term ‘singer’ and ‘air band’ loosely) and went by the moniker “Jen Bon Jovi.” It’s a side of me that is the performer, entertainer, creative and maybe eccentric, and I fortunately had a supportive avenue to express that. Perhaps unfortunately, pictures from that time period have recently been posted on Facebook, big hair and all.

Finally, remember Dr. Seuss’ words, "Be who you are and say what you feel, because those who mind don't matter and those who matter don't mind".

You have a freak flag. Are you flying it?


  1. Dear Kate: Thanks for the day brightener, and the info, of course. Enjoyed you call this have a good telephone voice! Will see what I can do about talking to my sister, the Pharmacist, about her granddaughter with the severe diabetes. Don't know whether or not I hold out any hope, however, as my sister is more intelligent that all the rest of us combined! At least, it's worth a try. Have a great day, Honey! Your friend, Lindy

    Dear Dr. Jen: You are right! I have long striven to avoid the confines of the "pack mode". That's where true greatness comes from...daring to be your true self in the midst of peer pressure. And Art Linkletter says, if we live long enough, peer pressure is one thing we will eventually outlive! So, go for all those decades! It sure beats holding your breath!

    Glad to know you "guys" are out there, and hope to work with you all someday soon. Bless ya, Lindy Heddin

  2. I could so identify with flying the freak flag as I take great pride in being unique.

    I used to house sit for a couple who were throw back hippies. And they...... can you believe it, THEY told ME I was the most bizarre person they had ever met?

    Of course, I was thrilled. And can you believe this? All I had done was to collect leaves and other natural treasures from their land and arrange them on their folded down sheets along with a note telling them how much I had enjoyed my stay at their home.

    Dina Dove

  3. Dear Dr. Allen.

    I had never heard of "freak flag flying" until I read your blog.

    What an amazing gift you have to write in such a simple way, about the importance of allowing ourselves the freedom to express our inner joy, happiness and love....with no fear nor judgment.

    You remind me of a lady who came to see me this last week...this is her story.

    For over twenty years she had suffered from chronic dis-ease. She was bed bound for most of the time and when not needed a wheel chair, she hardly ever left her house. She was so weak she could only speak in whispers and then only a few words at a time.

    Things got progressively worse and she was flown to a clinic in another country where she spent just about all of her time in bed needing oxygen.

    Her husband visited to say he was filing for divorce, leaving her with no home, no money, no love.

    About eighteen months later a new doctor lent over her bed and gently asked "If you could, what is it you REALLY REALLY want to do in your life"

    She whispered back "I want to sing".

    It was organized that every three days she was taken to a piano and for a few minutes she sang whatever she wanted.

    To bring her story up to date she is now back in her home country. She runs her own choir, sings in the local church choir and in two weeks will be singing six songs in a show. Even her answer machine message is her singing.

    Her success story is down to the wisdom and understanding of the new doctor, that we need to be in total contact with our inner joy, happiness and love..and to express it freely with no inhibitions.

    I have no doubt at all that all your patients gain an enormous amount of wisdom and healing when visiting you. And, that with your vitality you are such a great asset to the New Hansa Clinic.

    I too was reminded of something Eckhart Tolle's wrote in the Power of Now..."Never be in a place of waiting...instead be in-joy-of-yourself".

    I really enjoyed your blog, please write more, I am going to have a "Freaky flag flying day". That just makes me smile thinking about it :-).

    Linda...from Guernsey

  4. Thank you all for your comments: Lindy, Dina and Linda.

    I'm very happy to be a part of Hansa Center and will indeed be writing more here.

    Dr. Jennifer Allen