Authentic is a word that’s been used a lot lately. We’ve been moving away from polished, business-like demeanours in favour of more down-to-earth and ‘real’ traits.
This sense of an authentic self is something I can truly relate to and describes me very well. Now, I may not be always be everyone’s cup of tea, you’ll probably either hate me or love me, but you could never accuse me of being fake or ‘nice’ just to please. And frankly, would you want your friends and acquaintances to be any other way? Don’t we all crave true and real relationships?
So, what is authentic?
For a very long time I was very concerned with ‘fitting in’. This meant that I spent a great deal of time calculating how I needed to act, speak, dress and behave in order to be accepted into whichever circle that I happened to be in. From a very early age, life showed me that it was ‘easier’ to conform than to stand out.
However, this had consequences, and it wasn’t long before I turned to alcohol, drugs and other destructive behaviours in order to cope with this inauthentic way of life.
Somewhere along the way I recall thinking, ‘This cannot be it! This life needs to change because I just can’t sustain this lie’. Of course, this lifestyle also had a devastating effect on my health and mental well-being.
In my mid-thirties I made a choice to reconnect back to my authentic self, to connect to my inner heart and let that be the basis of my expression, living from the inside out. And so the following years saw me spend many hours and appointments peeling away the layers of what was built up as a fortress, in order to slowly reveal my true essence.
This was and still is super challenging. There are many times when the momentum of hiding away in comfort takes over, and you have to make a concerted effort and commitment to the responsibility of honesty.
The rewards though are absolutely worth it. To live an authentic life fills your heart with joy. It can also be very sad sometimes because the more authentic you are, the easier it is to see the lies in the world. We only want the best for humanity. To be vulnerable to seeing the world in it’s true state takes courage and strength. But if we want to have a life of authenticity, we need to start with ourselves first.
(ps that’s me in the middle with great friends Lynne and Helen)