She stopped and paused for a moment to find the words to our question. Her eyes brightened and the response she gave was more than I expected. Being a candidate in an interview can be nerve wracking…symptoms include sweaty palms or pits, shivers, anxiousness and adrenaline. This time was different. Our conversation flowed effortlessly with a natural rhythm and everyone was enjoying the conversation. Our final question went a little deeper; we wondered if she would run towards it or fumble the ball. “What do you want to be known for?” Her thoughtful response was pleasant surprise. “I want to be known for being authentic…with myself and with others”. DROP the mic.
Summed up, the word authentic means, “Not false, no imitation, sincere with no pretensions”. These are my favorite humans on the planet. The kind of people who say what they truly feel and mean. They know themselves; the good and bad, and pursue life with an air of genuity. They are the same person regardless of the audience, and don’t know how to hide behind a false persona. They are introverted or extroverted, fall on all spectrums of the Enneagram (don’t worry…I’ll write about this discovery tool soon!), and cater to both sides of the political aisle. Authenticity is not one style or type of personality…it is you and me coming to terms with our true selves in complete vulnerability.
***Stop and pause for 30 seconds. Close your eyes and picture with me the people in your life who are truly authentic. Open your eyes. Was your list long or short? If I am guessing correctly, you could count the people on one hand. ***
Our culture prioritizes and esteems filters of all kinds. Filters for your face and body; cosmetics, Instagram, Botox, and Photoshop. We like products that help us touch up our physical imperfections because then we feel better about the photo and even ourselves. What about filters for other things like, personality, values, intentions, decisions and emotions. For years social media has been a platform for influencers who live glamorous lives while pitching products for compensation. We watch their Insta stories with hundreds of selfies “lit” with exotic travel, entourages of assistants, make up artists, personal trainers, self-help coaches and nanny’s. Ahhhh, the American dream. They are living the life while we sit back and load the dishwasher with full on wardrobe envy.
What if we considered a different perspective. What if the life of an influencer isn’t perfect? What if they go through divorces and broken relationships? What if they deal with losing a loved one or their pet? What if they battle through depression and anxiety reaching for the meds on their nightstand like millions of other Americans? What if we have fallen into the trap of thinking that the only time we can be authentic is when our lives look filtered and perfect?
“Afiltered life may be easier in the short term, but will never bring us truly closer to ourselves or anyone else”.
One of my favorite books from last year is the Tribe of Mentors by Tim Ferris. The book may feel daunting because of its length but I have found reading a few chapters every week is a much better way to absorb all the nuggets. A Medium blogger Tim Denning paraphrased one key concept about why vulnerability is uncommon.
“Because you have to share things that are embarrassing and things that scare you. You have to take away the mask and show all of yourself with the good parts and the not so good parts. Showing your weaknesses is challenging to do.The act of being vulnerable makes you human and this trait will bring many more people closer to your vision or goal. I’ve seen firsthand what vulnerability can do on social media if it’s done with authenticity and comes from the right place”.
Taking steps towards authenticity can be intimidating at first. It’s scary to look behind the curtain and see what’s inside. Is it ugly, mean, pessimistic, jealous or frail? Do we all have imperfections and brokenness to discover…yes. None of us are exempt from “the mess.”. This might be brutal at first. It might take some regular therapy and accountability from people who know you and love you. It will probably involve journaling, blocking time to meditate or be present, reading inspiring or self-help books, and so on. The beauty in authenticity is once we become okay with “who we are”, mess and all, we can move towards the new and experience freedom.
Iwould rather be loved fully, with all my flaws then to be loved for someone I am not.
All the Things
Sometimes (well,actually more than sometimes) I find myself apologizing for being “myself”. For speaking-my-mind without a filter, or for saying something that someone else does not agree with. After writing this article, I paused to write down some of my authentic qualities about myself. I encourage you to do the same.
Recently a super longtime friend of Josh and mine said something that Rachel Hollis would have been proud of. He said, “Joanna just be you”. That was it. Simple and to the point. Thanks Joe Hohman for reminding me in your “Girl Stop Apologizing” way to just freaking be authentic.