I love freak flags. I love when people hoist them into the wind for the world to see--it makes it so much easier for us to find each other, to know each other. I love when we can be transparent from the first meeting--forget the small talk, the weather (unless you live in Maine--then it's actually pretty interesting and sort of a vital conversational piece...), the politics. I love when people are comfortable enough in who they are that they can just walk up and say, 'this is me. I'm okay if you don't like it, but let me see you, too.'
What gets uncomfortable is that schism between *wanting* to be oneself, but not knowing quite how to navigate it. Waving the flag a little, so to speak, then shoving it back into your pocket so that it's just a sort of awkward mess stuffed down the back of your pants--you're not comfortable, the company in your orbit isn't comfortable, and it will probably be a while before you hoist it again.
So, in other words, commit. Commit all out to being yourself. Today. And if it's hard at first, let it be hard. If you find yourself in the middle of some habitual response, e.g., "Why yes, I'd love to go to lunch with you today," even though you had plans to finish your new book at the corner coffee shop over a raspberry muffin, then backtrack. "You know what? Thank you, but I already have plans." And then don't feel guilty or embarrassed. Feel free. Feel freed. And if they ask you what your plans are? Just tell them. Just tell them. Why? Because first, dear god, lying is not consistent with transparency and, second, because they've probably done the same thing--gone out when they didn't want to and regretted it. Now you've freed them.
And if they're insulted? Well, they'll get over it or not (okay, this is a normal, everyday lunch invite, btw...not a friend in crisis lunch invite; that's different--but you're savvy enough to know that). You can't backtrack constantly, running over yourself in the process. You'll end up cringing and road-weary, limping through life.
We want you in one piece--you, the whole you, and nothing but the you.