Flying Our Freak Flag

freak flag n. A characteristic, mannerism or appearance of a person, either subtle or overt, which implies unique, eccentric, creative, adventurous or unconventional thinking.

Urban Dictionary

My freak flag has been flying since day one.

I had always been the “odd duck” of the family. I was the child repeatedly reprimanded by her schoolteachers for her chronic daydreaming and doodling. I was the child who typically plunked herself in a corner of the classroom during recess, with her nose buried in a storybook, while the other kids played outside. I was the child who entertained herself and passersby daily from the front steps of her family home by belting out She Loves Me, her favourite Beatles song. I was the child, much to her mother’s chagrin, who stubbornly pursued tree climbing and war games over tea parties and pink dresses.

At the age of seven, I announced that I wanted to be an artist, writer and chef, ideally all at the same time. My declaration, which did not surprise my parents, elicited both amusement and dismay from them.

I was taught at an early age by my parents that creative expression or the arts was suitable as a hobby but not as a serious profession. In the eyes of my conservative Chinese parents, life as an artist equated poverty and hardship. I may as well have informed them that I wanted to pitch a tent in a downtown alley. In their minds, the practices of medicine, law or engineering were the only legitimate choices. True to natural form, I rebelled and went on to pursue a career in the visual arts.

To say that my mother was horrified by my chosen path is an understatement and despite my professional success, there were years of distress between us over it. My parents remain mystified to this day by my choices but they have come to accept that I am someone who has always danced to her own beat.

Flying my freak flag keeps me honest as to who I am. It defines, shapes, and informs me as an artist and an individual. It reminds me that rolling over and playing dead does not serve me where the authenticity of my life is concerned. It teaches me the value of mindfulness, self-compassion and self-advocacy in all matters that affect my physical and emotional well-being. It emboldens me that the only permission I need to speak up and speak out is my own.

We all have freak flags. Some of us fly them proudly, while others fly them occasionally or not at all. Embrace your individuality with pride. Celebrate everything that is creative, unique, quirky or whimsical about you with joyous abandon. Say “yes!” to the adventure of being authentically you.

Do you fly your freak flag?

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