Flying your Freak Flag


You have to fly your flag so all us other freaks can find you.

Are you asking yourself, “I don’t even know what a freak flag is???”

Well, typically you first have to STOP hiding behind that cardboard cutout of what you think you should be! 

Think back to your childhood, what were the things adults said were wrong about you? 

Did you talk too much?

Did you get distracted by a particular topic?

Were you like me and found off wandering in a wildflower meadow or a corn field?

From a young age, many of us have been discouraged from letting our freak flag fly, even though that’s what makes us special. 

You know, if you’ve been told that you’re too much of something, I guarantee you were made that way so that you could do something exceptional.

Everything that is “different” or “wrong with you” is actually your super power! Think about it…it’s what makes you shine, stand out, what others see as amazing!

So stop covering up your greatest assets, which are all the quirky things that make you, you.

And start looking at the things that you have been shamed for, scolded for, told to stop doing. Those might be your clues to your superpower.

Still having trouble coming up with them?

Think about these questions …

What gets you really energized? 

Or what in the past, would you call your secret passion? 

What are the things you get so engrossed in that time seems to fly?

I’ve always been told that I’m too bossy, too passionate or too controversial.

If there was a project, a team, a club, anything that needed a leader…I raise my hand every time!

-or-

If I got an assignment to “be creative,”I would/will try to shake up my teachers with something that would make them react, “Oh holy hot damn, what’s this kid up to?”

-or-

Tuck money in my socks so my track teammates and I could make a run through the local Dairy Queen when we were suppose to be on a 5 mile run.

-or-

When my college volleyball coach got super pissed and made everyone on the team write a letter justifying why they should be allowed to play at Nationals (because she felt like we were slacking and the budget was tight). And, I wrote her damn letter assignment saying that a true leader would put her team and teammates first and so I volunteered to stay behind. 

BUT, that hasn’t always been the case. When I started listening to the messages that: 

“To survive in healthcare you just need to agree and move on.”

“Build a good CV but don’t do anything too off track.”

“I can’t do X because that’s not what a physician does.”

“I shouldn’t be seen here because what would “people” think?!?”

“I must act/dress/speak in a particular way if I want to get ahead.”

“Errin, sometimes you come across as too intense.” 

(Then I tampered myself back and next I got,) “Errin you don’t seem as confident. You need to work on that.”

In 2014, I decided enough was ENOUGH. I can’t be everything to everybody. I could no longer be super mom, super doctor, super community leader, super model size 2, super all of it. 

It was time to be me.

Now…it took awhile to uncovering myself from under all the labels I had attached to myself consciously and subconsciously. But I can say now, I’m living as me. I’ve moved through and out of burnout. Always revolving, improving and going a step further in this human journey.

So I encourage you…Stop doing those roles or jobs or assignments that you feel like you “have to do” and start leaning into your joy, your passion and what makes you feel alive by flying your freak flag.

My personal example of flying my own freak flag:

I wanted a way to connect with other female physicians who felt like I did, who had figured life & practice out differently and who really wanted to talk. So I created the “Doctor Me First” podcast and I was super nervous about launching my voice out into the world. 

“What if people don’t like what I sound like?”

“What if I don’t talk about important enough things and my colleagues shun me?”

“What if my patients find out?”

What if…what if…what if…

But I decided I would give it a try. 

Now 124 episodes later and over 25,000 downloads, I can’t even imagine what life would be like if I had let the what ifs stop me and I didn’t fly my freak flag. 

Because, I have found my people and I’m helping those who want to be helped.

Do I make connections with everyone through Doctor Me First? Of course not…I get one star reviews ALL. THE. TIME. 

But what IS happening is my people are finding me, they are learning they aren’t alone and that help is available.

It’s a pretty awesome thing when you find your people!

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Errin Weisman DO

Errin Weisman, DO is the self-proclaimed wellness guru on Authentic Medicine. She is a life coach, podcaster and fierce advocate for wellness in medicine. She faced professional burnout early in her career and speaks openly about her story in order to help others, particularly female physicians and working moms, know they are not alone. Dr. Weisman wholeheartedly believes to be a healer, you must first fill your own cup. She lives and practices life coaching and medicine in rural Southwestern Indiana, loves her roles as farmer’s wife, athlete and mother of three.You can find out more about Dr. Weisman on her podcast Doctor Me First, her website truthrxs.com or hang out with her on social media @truthrxs. Her podcast is “Doctor Me First”. 

  6 comments for “Flying your Freak Flag

  1. Steve O'
    December 23, 2019 at 8:54 am

    This time in the heart of winter in medicine is one to perceive everything and do nothing. A great error has befallen our culture, similar to that of Stalinist Russia. To appear visible in the crowd is itself sufficient for punishment. In both cases, it was the mandate to obedience – the top of the bell curve is the summit of the absolute average.
    One cannot treat pain in a deviant manner, nor run one’s clinic nor advise patients in a suspiciously individualistic manner. The attention of the authorities will surely be drawn to such nonconformism. As Lance has written, the rot is not merely at the top, the few hundred at the apex of control. It is the myriad snitches and tattletales who are eager to curry favor with the authorities who are the backbone of the tyrannical system. In the manner of the big-city subway, there are at any time several deranged individuals with lethal weapons, and the wisest course is to be inconspicuous, while they prey on someone else.
    There was a time when American culture could have made a choice; it can no longer. The Leaders have seen the worst of the British NHS, and can bring it here to the US; not with the hope of improvement or of decreasing cost, but merely greater power over the large-animal herd called America. All of us are equal, said some- but some of us are more equal than others.

  2. Pat
    December 18, 2019 at 10:13 am

    “Desultory”. Great word!

    • Sir Lance-a-lot
      December 18, 2019 at 12:33 pm

      Describes my entire academic “career.”

      And the majority of my patient interactions.

  3. Sir Lance-a-lot
    December 17, 2019 at 11:48 pm

    Dr. Weisman, I don’t want you to think that I have a personal thing against you or your philosophy, because I don’t, but the last few posts you have made have felt far less inspiring to me than I imagine they must to you or to your friends.

    This post, enthusiastic as it may be, strikes me – and, may God strike me if I’m lying, I never thought I would write these words – like the words of somebody who has led a life of privilege, and who has the luxury of being able to “be herself” without worrying that that might affect her career or her life.

    I will start at the beginning and touch on a few points that caught my attention:

    “You have to fly your flag so all us other freaks can find you.”

    Sorry, I suspect that the leather mask would frighten the pediatric patients.

    Seriously, though, I flew my freak flag all through high school and all it did was attract the attention of the police. I had fun, I drank, I did darn near every drug available, I stayed out all night, I drove the kind of car juvenile delinquents drive. I learned from this that it is a much better idea to “fly under the radar,” avoid attention and conflict, and let ’em think you’re just like they are. I would never have gotten into medical school had I not cleaned up my act, in the same way that I didn’t get into Dartmouth after I showed up for my interview in some prissy schmuck’s highrise midtown office with bright red, highly aromatic graffiti ink leaking from its tin can across the front of my army jacket.

    “Think back to your childhood, what were the things adults said were wrong about you? ”

    1. I touched everything. Harvey Weinstein saw what happens to you in this day and age if you don’t rein that in.

    2. Uniformly and without exception, EVERY teacher I ever had said, “He could do so well if only he applied himself.”

    So, are you saying that I would benefit from being a lazy and desultory octopus? If so, I’d like to know how.

    “Everything that is ‘different’ or ‘wrong with you’ is actually your super power!”

    My main flaws, aside from arrogance and self-righteousness, are procrastination and lateness.
    Procrastination has caused me real problems in the medical world with regards to certifications and the like, and my near-pathological inability to arrive at any job on time has caused me much bigger problems.

    Again, how do I turn these into “super powers”?
    Or do you not really mean things that are “wrong with me,” but rather “things that I can build a straw-man frame around and claim that ‘society’ said were ‘wrong with me'”?

    “What gets you really energized?”

    Innumerable things, including antique auto restoration, motorcycle riding, fast driving, and carpentry, none of which, coincidentally, are in any way useful in a medical career (though they do help me connect with my “normal” patients, which is one of the small consolations in my life).

    “If I got an assignment to ‘be creative,’ I would/will try to shake up my teachers with something that would make them react…”

    NOTHING would make a teacher in Manhattan in the 1970s react.
    I did a project where I made a Nazi speech to a room full of Jewish teachers, including Holocaust survivors, for my Prejudice and Persecution class and it barely made a ripple.

    “… my track teammates…” “… my college volleyball coach…”

    Some of us have never, in our lives, been on a team. Because we are not “team players.” Also because our parents would never have had the time and money necessary to support that BS.
    Being on a team in school is a sure sign of privilege.

    “I must act/dress/speak in a particular way if I want to get ahead.”

    You try that line in front of a group of poor or minority doctors or medical students and see how it goes down.
    It could only be said by a white person from a wealthy background.

    I’m white as rice, but I grew up in a neighborhood white people didn’t go to much, and let me tell you, you sure do need to speak, dress, and act in a certain way to get through the mill and out the other side.
    I’ll tell you this, too – if I acted toward women for one minute the way I learned to back in the day, and I’m not talking harassment, I’m talking friendliness, HR would be escorting me out the door with a cardboard box.

    “Stop doing those roles or jobs or assignments that you feel like you “have to do” and start leaning into your joy…”

    So, how do I pay the bills if I stop seeing patients? I thought of doing a radio show long before podcasts ever existed, but, realistically, the likelihood that anyone really wants to listen to me pontificate is extremely low (I can tell you that nobody I know wants to hear it).

    My freak flag is folded up in my foot locker, along with that jacket with the freezer ink all over it (still smells a bit…). I’ll stick to trying to keep myself appearing socially acceptable, and not insulting any of my coworkers, so I can continue to earn a paycheck and buy food regularly, thank you.

    • Pat
      December 18, 2019 at 8:26 pm

      Lance, I think some of Dr. Weisman’s hopes are well taken, provisionally. For those med students and physicians with no debt and a fallback plan, the aspiration to imagination is something to applaud.

      But as I think you’ve well described, the applicability, and indeed, optimism, is less applicable to those of us with no other way to make a solid living, and constrained by the obligations of debt, children, mortgages, or (ahem) rebuilding a home in a hurricane-stricken area. This is not to whine, but to recognize the realities of present living against recommendations that are simply not practical or even realistic for those too far along.

      The youngsters reading her words should take heed and give real thought to her recommendations. But alas, it is too late for many of us.

      • Sir Lance-a-lot
        December 18, 2019 at 9:54 pm

        Quite so, Pat.

        In my case, I know what I like (“My Bliss” [inject patchouli odor here]), and alway have. I put in a fair amount of work to get into med school on the belief that it would further my pursuit of things that make me happy. Upon arrival at the coveted aerie, I discovered that the entire thing had been badly misrepresented, that there was no way that the things I knew that I liked would be furthered by a career in medicine, and that there was a “No Returns” policy in effect vis a vis my time, money, and life force heretofore expended. Thus, I must make my way “with the army I have” (to quote Mr. Rumsfeld) and make the best of it, and part of that is decidedly NOT allowing my true feelings to shine through too clearly, lest I get the olde administrative boot to my buttocks.

        If the young kids want to be themselves and show who they really are, well, that’s fine by me. I’m just not sure how happy the patients will be watching them play on their XBox One.

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