Let Your Freak Flag Fly

Let Your Freak Flag Fly
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Ellie Wilde

I’ve been so fortunate in my life to know so many strange and brilliant people. My mentors, friends, coworkers -- I’m always laughing! It’s fantastic to be able to work hard and take each other seriously as professionals, while also being able to kick back and feel accepted for who you are, let your guard down, and enjoy each other’s company.

No matter where I’ve worked, I’ve always been known for my silly personality. I worked for a company that helped individuals consolidate debt -- it was very serious work. One Halloween, I won the costume contest by dressing as a pregnant nun. When I worked at Harvard, I was the “Spirit of Fridays” Leader for two years and had the best time orchestrating fun parties and field trips for staff. At The LMC Group, we are a tight-knit group and I feel so unbelievably appreciated and accepted for who I am. I don’t have to hide it at all.

Whenever I am in front of a group of people and have to be overly self-conscious or abnormally professional, it makes me uncomfortable. It’s almost unnatural to me and although I always hit the right mark and deliver a stellar performance, I feel so drained afterward.

I noticed that it is when I am “free to be me” that I feel high energy and get such an overwhelmingly positive response. I was walking back to my hotel at a conference once and stopped to hang out with a group of strangers and chit-chat. I was a little tipsy, I’m not going to lie. The group of guys were there for a conference for the security industry - cyber security, to be exact. I was the only woman in that group of cyber superheroes, and I knew getting into it that I could show no weakness or mercy. We introduced ourselves and we went around making introductions and I stated that my profession was in social media management. They took turns quizzing me and grilling me, and we went toe to toe, punch for punch, arguing accuracies of facts, detangling intricate hypothetical scenarios, and trading dirty jokes. Again, I was a little hammered. By the time I was ready to retire to my room, everyone in the group was begging me for my business card. Undeterred by the fact I had run out, they whipped out their phones and looked me up on LinkedIn on the spot to stay in touch with me. Some of them are still friends of mine to this day and hit me up every time they are in Boston. I had many offers to take on social media accounts that night, essentially being offered a job on the spot, but I turned them down because I didn’t want to take on another industry - what a fantastic problem to have, amirite?

Another time, I was giving a presentation. My amazing boss gave the crowd a warning when she was giving me an introduction, essentially stating that I can be “Rated R” at times. I delivered! I tastefully discussed vibrators - but it’s not what you think! I was saying that what people know to be true is partially based off of perception, stating, “If you were to ask me how my morning went, I would have said it went swell! I got ready, put on a dress, decided to use my quick-shaver so I’d feel confident with no stubbles on stage... but if you were to ask my roommate how her morning was, she’d probably start rocking back and forth in the corner because my electric shaver sounds kind of like a vibrator... it’s all about perception.” The crowd erupted (pardon the pun) with laughter and when my presentation was over, I got so many business cards, and so many complements about how memorable I was as a speaker. People told me they felt like they were on the edge of their seats just waiting to hear what I’d say next, and that they felt like I was a dear friend speaking to them.

After all that, I have to admit, I am a bit disappointed in myself for what my Facebook profile looks like. It’s boring! I’m hilarious, and it doesn’t show that at all! There are just some posts about causes I care about and social media news, and it’s BORING! Why did I do this? Why am I so concerned about how I’m perceived? To be honest, I’d rather just be myself and weed out the clients I don’t want. I realized that I do it because my clients need to be conservative. Some of my clients are extremely high-profile and in conservative fields such as the classical music industry, fine art industry, and non-profit sector. That’s all well and good, but you know what? They love me for me, too - so what’s the problem? Is it because social media is so public and I’m carrying over everything I learned about email etiquette? I say, it’s time to bring on the tomfoolery. It’s time to let myself be me, and let those who love me or hate me do just that. I’m not saying to be offensive, but it makes no sense to tell my kids to not live life trying to please everyone when I’m not allowing the same rules to apply to myself.

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