About, Musings on Life

Authenticity

Woman jumping, midair on the beach with a sign stating enjoy the beach on a lifeguard stand in the foreground.
Do more of what makes you feel like you!

One of the characteristics I most admire in others is an ability to be unashamedly yourself. I find people who are passionate to be some of the most inspiring people I know.

Sometimes I wonder if I admire authenticity because I feel like I have no choice but to be authentic. I am quirky and have never really been able to hide it. My husband often says that the more I try to act like others the more I end up showcasing the fact that I am different and uniquely myself. I am weird, and I have no choice but to do the things I love and be my weird self. I have accepted it and moved on.

Authenticity though requires risk. You need to accept that not everyone will understand you. Not everyone will get you. You might have opinions that are different from a majority of people and that is okay. One of the best parts of being human is realizing that you are unique amongst the seven billion people on the planet. Yes, someone may have done it before, but no one can do it the way you would and no one will do it the way you will. We are similar but not the same. Realizing that your path is one no one else has taken can be intimidating. I always come back to a quote by Joseph Campbell, “if you can see your path laid out in front of you step by step, you know it’s not your path. Your own path you make with every step you take. That’s why it’s your path.” We need to feel free to walk our own paths and I think watching someone else who is in their element makes us feel free to do that in our own lives. Watching people who are authentic gives us permission to be authentic too.

I find authenticity to be an underrated quality. As a society, we have been taught to ridicule those who are different and themselves rather than celebrate them. Brain wise, this makes sense someone who does something different could have endangered our tribal selves, part of staying alive meant being liked by those around us. In a way, we have taken this too far rather than simply being liked we have started to try to be the same as the ideal, forcing ourselves into rigid constructs that we do not fit. Rather than accepting that we can be liked for being ourselves, while being kind to others, we focus on being like others. We lose the moments of connection and understanding and instead of gaining connection we lose ourselves. I am not the first to encourage authenticity, but I know for me owning who I am and what works for me has been a struggle. I acutely felt all the jabs of others, I often felt different. Growing up I moved schools, and I was so concerned I wore the same pants for a week, my mom dutifully washing them every night. These small moments where we give up our identity to be accepted are harmful in the long run. We do not recognize that was we gain in the moment as acceptance undermines our being accepted as our actual selves. We need to be brave enough to be honest with ourselves and those around us. We need to accept that we are not all meant to be the same and that is a beautiful and wonderful thing. There are many people who understand and love things I do not care about, but without them the world would be a worse place. We need all kinds to make the world the best it can be. Rather than stifling each other and putting ourselves in boxes, we need to slow down and realize the bravery it takes. We can only truly be accepted by being ourselves and we need others to be themselves too.

Today I want to encourage you to take steps towards being yourself. That may look like sharing a bit more, standing up for something you care about, taking a small step in a direction you care about, whatever it is take the small step. It is always worth it.

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