By Brian McKay
We run from things as American’s. Lots of things. The worst thing we run from is ourselves while trying to fit narrowly defined boxes of expectations and success. Some of us eventually find our way home when we realize that the boxes never existed. The expectations were always pure junk and the definitions of success were really just chains fastened to a wall in a deep and dark prison.
Your freak self is what matters. By no means does this imply you are a freak, whatever being a freak means to begin with. Maybe it means nothing at all other than being a pejorative term that was used to demean those that chose to be themselves. It seems that as Americans we are independent but at the same time, fear what it means to be ourselves. Essentially, we are all freaks in some way. Perception is definitely subjective and our freakishness is the embodiment of the different ways we choose to see the world.
As we get older, it seems we divide into two distinct camps. There are those of us that just decide we could care less about what anyone defines themselves to be and just lean toward respecting their originality and ability to express themselves. The rest just double down on being offended by anyone different and use the term freak as a negative.
The question is why? Why not embrace your freak self? Even for you ultra-offended souls, the rest of us know you have a freak self as well. It might even be that you have more of one, but have been taught you whole lives that freak selves are evil. Guess what? They were wrong. Your freak self is glorious and denial of who we really are is way fucking destructive.
The doubling down has seemed to become exacerbated in America as of late. Gay marriage really prompted a lot of fear from the traditionalist crowd. Honestly, we all know it has nothing to do with some silly verse in Leviticus. It has everything to do with people being threatened by others that embrace themselves and what is different in them from traditional societal definitions. If anyone honestly meant to take the Bible seriously, they would have to embrace a whole host of other silly tenants as well. At least we can all agree that it is truly easier to be a hypocrite than to stop eating shrimp. If my 12-year-old daughter can say, “Daddy, what’s the big deal with anyone being able to love anyone else?”, I am sure you can too.
While we’re on that topic, I must ask, did you all just forget along the way that Jesus was the consummate rebel who really dug everyone? Did you forget that Christians were once freaks that had to worship secretly in the tombs below Rome? Just a couple reminders that you come from those who embraced their freak selves as well.
It doesn’t just apply to religion though. Lately there is this whole push for Constitutional originalism in the United States. Again, it simply involves hypocrisy and the desire to never change and grow. Granted we are all hypocrites, but gross hypocrisy is especially repugnant. The whole movement for Constitutional originalism essentially believes that the Constitution should be interpreted only in its original form and never allowed to evolve. The problem is that the people who believe in this silliness embrace myth firstly and then deny that the founders of this country were totally willing to own their freak selves.
Five of the first six presidents not believing in the divinity of Christ at a time when religion was everything, meant totally having to accept your freak self in the early 19th century. Thomas Jefferson lamented that he would never fit in the society of traditional beliefs. Thomas Paine just called it all out at every chance he got. Let’s not even get started on Ben Franklin’s willing debauchery and party animal ways. America was meant to evolve and be freakish. Nobody before us had accepted so many people that left their home countries because they were a freak of some sort or another. Puritans? Yes, they were huge freaks back home.
We are evolving, whether others like it or not. Maybe that is the reason that a good chunk of this country has become so paranoid about us freaks.
It isn’t just gay marriage or sexual expression that upsets people. Suddenly, Apple’s most famous ad from the 2000’s talks about the rebels and crazy ones. Self-expression is actually real, and not just a Hollywood class sold by some fraud yogi. Radical is cool and rebellion against the typical societal archetype is being defined by the younger generations once again. It is no longer someone’s desperate psychological need to be different that defines freakishness, but the fact that up and coming generations now celebrate that we are all freakish. And that just freaks the traditionalists out.
Scientists have always been freaks and total rock stars. It seems that with today's flat Earther bent in America, they might be bigger freaks than ever before and that just makes them cooler. Seriously, would Einstein not have been the coolest freak ever if it weren't for that glorious hair and the shortest equation ever (e=mc2) to make such a huge impact?
The drudgery and conformity of the corporate American vision we crafted over decades is now in question. The religious extremism that has dominated local school boards for years is finally being called out. Excessive consumption as a way to define ourselves is being realized as just not that cool. Rebellion is slowly making a comeback. Diverse experiences now mean more than anything.
As the Fox News crowd starts to die off, this lifelong rebel sees hope in all of us across society being able to embrace our freak selves. Maybe in doing so we can regain the greatness that has been lost in this country for so many years. Again, we can move forward towards true freedom and creativity while shunning the monetization of everything, that has so contributed to our decline.
It has been a long time since the great societal pushes that gave women the vote and crafted the civil rights movement. We recently have seen the movement for sexual rights and it might be that many more movements are yet to come. The freaks are finally standing up and demanding changes. Could we soon see campaign finance reform and a push to be a society that cares as much for its poor as it does for its rich?
Many will currently say that it is because we accept so much freakishness now that we are declining. They are wrong. It is that we have so lost the ability to be our individual selves and become subservient to the wrong things, that we have started falling backward. Freaks and rebels have always moved the world forward. It is a gift to be proud of.
People have asked if my writing is a persona. Nope. It is the final, glorious acceptance of my rebellious, freak self that was detested for years because it didn’t fit. It took forever to realize that the lack of fit was the true gift. When someone recently asked, “Does anyone get you?”, that was a badge of honor. All of the chants of "freak", "nerd", "fag" and "Frankenstein", while being bullied as a kid were badges of honor as well.
It is the happiest thing in the world to embrace your freak self and use it to turn the prevailing convention on its head. While certain relatives might be reading this and shaking their heads, I can only say, "Hello relatives! It's fun to accept your inner freak."
So if you are a rebel, be a rebel. If you are the mad scientist, politically out there, LGBTQ, of non-traditional religious beliefs, looking for new forms of meaning or just wishing to cast the traditionalism fully aside, just embrace your freak self. You will be infinitely happier in life and find a spiritual and simple peace that is amazing. It will be you that is contributing to move America forward again.
Brian McKay is a co-founder of zenruption and a definite freak. He loves rebellion more than anything in the world, but seeks to do it with manners. After writing this article he decided to go to "church" and zenrupt a bloody Mary.
Feature photo courtesy of Flickr, under Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial license