Authenticity means everything to me.
It is at the core of why I write here, or anywhere. I write to share all sides of myself. I write to bring to light not just to what we wish we were but to get at who, and what, we really are. Authenticity to me means sharing what is inside of you, all the good and the bad, and not only recognizing where you wish to improve but why.
There is a very human tendency to only show the best sides of ourselves. It has been evolutionarily beneficial for obvious reasons. We separate the parts of us that are love—or at least are acceptable to society—and we make those parts of ourselves into a mask, pretending it is all there is. We use that mask to hide the parts of ourselves that we believe are unacceptable to our friends, and family, and society as a whole, and we pretend they do not exist.
This tendency is exacerbated by social networks like Facebook and Instagram. We are showing more and more of ourselves to more and more people, and we want to make sure all sides of ourselves polished and perfect. We work harder and harder to make that make the version of ourselves we wish we were strong and believable. We bury the ugly things deeper and deeper. Sometimes we bury it all. Sometimes so deep we even fool ourselves.
But what we forget is that the fragmented human is an unhappy human. We feel the most satisfied and fulfilled when we are allowed to be our whole selves. We are happiest when we feel seen and understood. So why then do we try so hard to be something else?
It is fear, only fear, that keeps us splintered and suffering in that way.
We are afraid because, as much as humans want to be genuine, open, and accepted, we are not very good at offering other humans a space to experience the same. We do not do it for others, and so we believe no one will do it for us.
We have to lead by example. Be yourself, the good, the bad and the ugly, allow others to be the same. Praise the ones you know are practicing radical authenticity and let those who don’t know that they can.
Post your worst selfies, your unfinished art, and promise never to delete them. Write when you are sad, when you are angry, when you are embarrassed. Tell us about the times when you have been cruel, when you have been wrong, and when you have been tricked. Don’t try to be funny, don’t try to sound smarter than everyone you know, don’t promote your work. Ask questions and offer no answers. Tell them why you are sorry, then tell them why you’re not. Tell them what you love, what you hate, and what you learned.
Tell me about the times your mom made you feel stupid and how your dad left you feeling confused and unloved. Tell me about and all the fights you have with your spouse that leave you in doubt. Tell me when you can’t sleep at night because your thoughts are too loud. Tell me when you hate yourself. Tell me about every time you’ve looked into the abyss and whether or not it winked back at you.
When you feel yourself hiding behind posts that don’t tell the full story or only show one side to your life and personality, work hard to correct it.
Don’t ever pretend to be perfect, don’t even try to be perfect, B
Do it because the splitting and the hiding only leads to shame and a life wasted on lies and deceptions. Do it because the greatest joys in life only come when we decide to be brave, be vulnerable, and find that all along everyone around us felt the same. That is how we find connection and community. That is what makes anything we do worth doing.
Promise yourself to live in truth and good faith.
I promise to do the same.
If you like this post, consider signing up for my newsletter :)
Written in response to The Daily Post’s Discover prompt: Radical Authenticity
Featured image via Unsplash