Authenticity is something I talk about a lot. I have built an entire business around “redefining authentic beauty”. One could argue it has become part of my identity and yet I fail miserably at it sometimes. I have spent so much mental energy trying to figure out exactly what it means to be authentic. In my quiet, honest moments I will admit that I sometimes evaluate the behaviors of other people and weigh them against my own authenticity yardstick. I look at their decisions and actions and compare them to my own, draw conclusions, and feel a little bit better or a little bit worse about myself and nothing about that is honest or authentic.
To admit I make mistakes and that I am still worthy is authentic.
Decisions are much easier when you know what you believe; there isn’t much room for debate when you have drawn your line in the sand. The problem is, beliefs evolve and change. Authenticity, like beauty, seems to be largely subjective and dependent on the individual. I struggle with this because part of me wants a right answer-an absolute definition that determines the rightness or wrongness of something. Having that would make it much easier to measure against my yardstick. I have tried to judge authenticity this way and every time I do I am reminded that what is right and honest and real for me is not necessarily the same for others and I have struggled to accept this.
To admit that life is not always black and white and I often live in the grey is authentic.
Lately, I have experienced many situations that have forced me to draw my line in the sand and all of these experiences have happened in the context of my relationships. And after months of trying to unpack these experiences and learn from them, the only thing I am sure of is that authentic relationships are the most difficult and life giving parts of my world. I need them.
To admit I need people and that intimacy is both risky and essential for me is authentic.
For me, authenticity means being as honest and transparent as possible, even when my honesty is a window into my ugliness and fear.
It means not everyone is worthy of seeing into that window and I get to choose who does.
It means that I will hurt the people I love and make mistakes and behave in petty, fearful ways that aren’t a reflection of my heart, but rather of my brokenness.
It means that sometimes I will thrive and have an abundance of grace to give and sometimes I will just take and take.
It means that when I am excellent at something I don’t minimize my excellence and apologize for it, but accept that gift humbly.
It means that I will not always love others well but I will always try to.
It means that when I am being asked to do something that conflicts with my beliefs, I am allowed to walk away without explaining and justifying myself repeatedly.
It means that when I hurt, I cry.
It means that when I am too tired to care, I give myself the space to self-protect and emotionally cocoon for as long as it takes to re-engage.
It means that when I am bursting with love and gratitude for the people I love, I get to openly and shamelessly express that love, even if I am afraid it will look silly.
Authenticity means that I must work at continuing to be self aware. It means that I must have knowledge of and trust in my own motives, feelings, and abilities. It requires that I work at making sure my actions are in line with my beliefs, even when that means I have to risk something.
Authenticity requires courage.