How can we not be authentic? We are who we are. If, somehow, we are not showing our true selves, isn’t that who we are being? This is exactly who we are, in this place and in this time right now.
Previously, I had never understood what it meant to be authentic. Are there inauthentic people on the planet? How do they become inauthentic? Does it just mean they are covering up things or saying what other people want them to say?
It was always a mystery to me that somehow, we are supposed to be on a quest to be authentic. That someone else decided that we must find our true selves by reaching “out there” somewhere, always higher, and further to find our authenticity.
But when I looked closer, I found that people cloak themselves in self-made confusion; they aren’t confused at all but apologize for being so. We aren’t really confused about who we are, yet we seemingly discombobulate ourselves by saying something not true, as if it is truth. Then we launch ourselves into trying to find our authenticity “out there” somewhere.
I’ve come to view being authentic as being brave. When we step into our true creativity, our purpose, our hearts, as boldly and bravely as we possibly can, that’ authentic.
Think Lady Gaga, think Martin Luther King, Jr., think (insert your favorite famous person here). It isn’t that they are more authentic than you or me; it’s that we can see more of who they are, in a brighter, cleaner, shinier, and more brilliant way.
As a society, we apologize for just being, for walking past, for opening doors, not opening doors, going first, not going first, saying hello, not saying hello. “Sorry” is a word that repeats over and over in our daily lives.
In the process, we cover up who we really are, and in time become both inauthentic (quiet even to ourselves) and invisible. We cover up our authenticity with confusion, with “sorry,” with being invisible. Stop this.
Which takes me to the next word.
That’s a kick-a* scary word.
I used to call myself introverted. And I am. Truly. I’d rather curl up with a good book at home than be out at a party, but I can see how I hid behind the word. I have used it as an excuse for not putting myself out there, for not being who I really am in the world.
I’d rather be in my comfortable cloak than speak my truth.
Here’s how it might play out:
When invited to a party I’d ask who else was going so I could decide if I knew people, would have someone who knew me (who understood me, would I be safe there).
When thinking about heading out swing dancing by myself, I’d say I was too shy. I am shy (and introverted). Who does this hurt? Only myself. By being brave and taking myself swing dancing I’m allowing more of myself to shine, first to myself (I WANT TO DANCE) and then to others.
If no one asks me to dance, does that make me a bad person? Perhaps I’ll just ask someone else to dance! (There’s bravery again.) If I don’t get to dance, did that make me ‘right’ for wanting to stay home?
In this situation, do I reconfirm that I’m better off staying home than going out dancing by myself? I could make that argument, but really if I don’t get to dance, I just don’t get to dance. No hidden meanings: I’m not a bad person, no one hates me, I just didn’t get to dance.
How I hide came to light in a very big way for me when someone on social media (which means, I don’t even know them in real life… they could have been a clown or a troll or a non-existent profile from a faraway land) told me to “quiet down, be a good girl, and go home.”
To start, I didn’t know this person, but let’s be clear. He didn’t know me, either. Even if he did know me, his words are unacceptable. I wouldn’t talk to my husband, daughter, friend, or grocery bagger like that. I would never speak up in hateful putdown language to a school teacher, barista, or doctor. I just wouldn’t be, well, rude.
When did it become ok to tell others how to think or feel or what to do? When did it become ok for me to listen to this? And when did it become part of me that I could never be rude? (After all, visibility “being” the whole of who I am, shouldn’t it include being rude when appropriate, meaning not without provocation, but with pride to speak up for myself and to be, well, visible?)
I blasted back #idontneedadaddythankyou #responsibleformyfeelingsmyself
That’s how I felt in that moment. A switch came on inside of me, and I no longer was introverted, quiet, or invisible. I stood up and claimed myself, my truth, my rudeness, my fierceness. I claimed all my baggage, my unhealed parts, my brilliance, and my being. Then I let that person and his words go.
I don’t need to ever engage again with this person. If he or others like him come into my life, I can handle it a variety of ways, including ignoring, blocking or just laughing. I’m prepared, as I’m older, wiser and happily more visible now. And there is no further need to engage because that lesson is done.
We speak our truth. We are authentic. We are visible. We are already authentically visible.
Go Be You.
The biggest, greatest visible you.
Which words have power over you? Why? What do you think authenticity entails? Are you living authentically or do you usually pretend to be someone you’re not? How visible are you willing to be in everyday life?