Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Letting Your Freak Flag Fly

"Dare to Be Yourself", says the cover of the current issue of Psychology Today.

"A sense of authenticity is one of our deepest psychological needs, and people are more hungry for it than ever. Even so, being true to oneself is not for the faint of heart."

Aristotle suggested that authenticity is going after the highest good, not simply "letting your freak flag fly." (The flag phrase is from Karen Wright, author of the article, not Aristotle.)

By this definition, authenticity can have its costs, Wright points out, especially in the short term. For example, writing for the market can produce money and recognition; writing according to your own highest standards is likely to be more satisfying, and (perhaps arguably) more toward the highest good.

Showing one's quirky colors--the freak flag--is for me, not only fun, but helps in the larger effort for highest good and most profound satisfaction.

In my early twenties, just out of school, I seemed to be a bit like a color you could wear with anything. And in fact both Democrats and Republicans asked me out. Within a few years, as I became more myself, only Democrats called. Which created a smaller pool in the short-term, but led to a happy marriage.

So I think there's no either/or decision on these two approaches. I favor flying one's flag, whatever it looks like, as we each sail, with zigs and zags, toward our best selves.

(If you go looking for the article, check out the hard copy. It has a useful how-to sidebar.)

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Debra W said...

I just received that issue of Psychology Today, so I will have to check out that article.

I love what you said in your last paragraph here. "I favor flying one's flag, whatever it looks like, as we sail, with zigs and zags, toward our best selves." Keep sailing, Peggy. I enjoy all of your beautiful, bold colors.


Peggy Payne said...

Thanks, Debbie. Flag's aloft.

And thanks for your beautiful bold colors.