How to turn your self-expression into a gift at Burningman…and really, anywhere.

Andrew Horn
3 min readAug 20, 2022


One of the core principles of Burningman is Radical Self-Expression.

“Radical Self-Expression arises from the unique gifts of the individual. No one other than the individual or a collaborating group can determine its content. It is offered as a gift to others. In this spirit, the giver should respect the rights and liberties of the recipient.”

Here’s a frame that helps me to turn my self expression into a gift, while also making it more fun, accessible and meaningful.

Think about the people you love that will be at Burningman.

Now, ask yourself a question…

Do I want those people to feel like they can be completely and totally themselves around me?

If your answer is yes, consider this.

How could you truly want that for them, if you were not courageous enough to go first. To model that it is truly okay to be completely yourself.

When we embrace this frame, we turn our authentic expression into an implicit act of service.

Being who we are creates a field of possibility for other people to radically and wholly express themselves.

One of the most important lessons I have learned over the past 12-years teaching communication and interpersonal dynamics, is this…

To actualize the self, our mission must be greater than the self.

By focusing on creating space for others to be themselves, we make it easier for ourselves to do the same thing.

So then, how do we “be ourselves?”

Fundamentally, I’ve found that being ourselves comes down to four basic pieces of awareness and action.

1. Intentionality

2. Curiosity

3. Authenticity

4. Now

Just remember “I CAN”

Before you go out for the night, or in the midst of any situation that brings you discomfort, self-consciousness or anxiety…you can ask four simple questions to come back to yourself and trust that it is enough to connect.

Intentionality — How do I want to be?

Articulate three desired states of being for that moment. “Be the thermostat and not the thermometer” as my friend @radhatwin says.

Curiosity — What do I want to know about the people around me and myself?

Let your curiosity guide you into connection. Shift awareness away from self-consciousness and onto other-consciousness to alleviate the idea that we need to be anything or impress others.

Authenticity — What am I feeling and excited to share?

Can I engage my feelings as real, valid and deserving of a voice? Knowing that doing this will help others to do the same.

Now — How can I be more present in this moment?

Simple answer, breath. We cannot breathe into the past, we cannot breathe into the future, we can only breathe into the present moment. Our social anxiousness is usually tied to a story about what the future holds.

If this is interesting to you, I’ll be teaching a couple of Social Flow workshops on the playa this year.

Wed @ 4pm — Camp Mystic Healing Dome

Friday @ 1pm — Playa Alchemist Temple

Have fun turning your self-expression into a gift :)



Andrew Horn

Founder // - Spreading gratitude and meaningful human connection in the world — prev. @dreamsforkidsdc and @abilitylist.