Let Your F*cking Freak Flag Fly!
Most of my life I have felt different. I have felt odd.
Not like peculiar weirdo odd, although some may disagree, but odd in the unusual and unique sense. I have always left people curious, wondering what just just went on, lost for words and in a state of ‘blimey!’ (‘a state of blimey’, I quite like that phrase!) People leave knowing I’m a bit different, but they like it and they’re not sure why.
Being different as a child and even as a young adult was really hard work and at times very lonely. We are funneled into socially acceptable channels and encouraged, and even rewarded, for not only fitting into the box but ticking as many of them as possible. Well, it became apparent early on that try as I might, I didn’t fit many boxes and back then I was labelled as ‘trouble’, ‘highly spirited’, ‘difficult’, ‘overly imaginative’ and even ‘one to keep an eye on!’. But as I’ve grown older and gotten to know myself more I’ve come to realise I’m not ‘trouble’ - I’m a questioner. I’m not ‘highly spirited’ - I’m deeply passionate. I’m not ‘difficult’ - just curious. I’m not ‘overly imaginative’ - I’m creative and I have vision. And, as far as being ‘one to keep an eye on’ - they were right! Watch me, watch this ‘odd’ kid go and become an amazing adult!
For years and years I’d tried lots of versions of myself on for size. We all have other versions of ourselves in the wardrobe. The classroom version, the work version, the sociable version, the lover version, the friends version, the parent, daughter, sister, son, brother versions, there are loads. We wear them in order to be accepted, to be included, to be liked and loved. We wear them because we think the real version of ourselves isn’t enough. Isn’t attractive enough, isn’t cool enough, isn’t smart enough, isn’t brave enough. But somehow none of these other versions fitted me properly and I realised that to feel enough, I had to accept the way I was, I had some work to do!
For me, that journey began with not only getting to know myself but liking myself, spring cleaning that wardrobe, throwing out all the versions, stripping back all the expectations that everything and everyone else had on me and setting my own and being confident to live naked. I practiced a ‘dare to bare’ method, every day feeling a little more confident in my own skin. I chose to be me, despite the fact that I was often left wondering if being real was actually abnormal. It’s taken guts and huge scoops of bravery - but the results are radical!
Rocking up as myself, being the authentic version of me in all situations, has been strangely powerful and magnetic. I’ve become popular. Me? Are you fucking kidding me? I’ve never been popular! But maybe it’s because when I show up as myself, it gives others permission to do the same.
I’ve realised that you don’t need to colour within the lines to fit in, be creative, influential and impactful, to be alive and inspiring. And yes, this journey is sometimes exhausting, being different can be hard work, ask anyone who is ‘not run of the mill,' it can be energy zapping if you are not surrounded by acceptance, appreciation and acknowledgment. The key is to find your people, find your kind of real in order to be your authentic self.
Sitting here today as ‘The Naked Coach’, I’m typing this smiling and crying to myself as I look at how far I’ve come and how powerful this journey has been, not only for me, but for those I am honoured to work with too. It has been the making of me as a catalyst for change and what’s funny is that being ‘odd’ is sexy these days and people are starting to recognise that normal, quite frankly sucks.
So, when you are ready to own who you really are, to fly your flag in all it’s glory, when you are proud of being fu*king freaky but fu*king awesome, when it’s time to bust out and be unashamedly and unapologetically yourself with all your mess and strangeness, you’re welcome to come and join my tribe.
With oddness & love,
Neen - The Naked Coach
This story previously appeared on Medium.