Authentic. To me, this characteristic is extremely powerful and valuable. Last summer, I spent a lot of time thinking and talking about what it means to be authentic and how I can lead an authentic life. Expressing my desire to do so, those I tell seem surprised. Each have responded with, “You are already authentic, what do you mean you want to be more authentic?”. Although craving authenticity, the first time asked, I did not anticipate that question and found myself unsure of how I would answer. My response was, “I’d like to not care what others think of me, and just be me, in order to truly connect with myself and others“. Okay, that was a start…
At this point, I started thinking about beliefs versus fact. I assume many things to be certain based on belief or feeling, not fact or evidence. I recognize for me to be authentic, I need to work on looking at fact rather than belief. I will always have feelings, but they may change over time. I want to reflect more on fact, to help get out of my own head, move on, and represent my authentic self.
During a particularly difficult week last fall I started comparing myself to others. I could not help but feel sorry for myself when visiting a friend and hearing of all her new and exciting endeavors, but thinking “why not me?”. Then Instagram took over and I was aboard the “Compare Yourself to Total Strangers Train“. Happen to know that one? It’s self-torture in today’s age – ugh! In the midst of these feelings, I had a conversation with a coach who reminded me authenticity is about finding happiness within yourself and the moment you are in. Took note of that.
The subject came up again in a conversation with a friend. What he said was a game changer, “to be authentic you must be vulnerable“. VULNERABLE. By definition, vulnerable means “to be capable of or susceptible to being wounded or hurt“. This resonated with me as I realized everyone is vulnerable. Perhaps some hide their vulnerability better than others, but is that actually better? If we allowed our vulnerability to be seen, would we understand one another more? These questions have me see vulnerability differently these days. Being vulnerable and having pain is not a bad thing. Without pain we would not be able to feel joy. Accept it or not, vulnerability is the one characteristic connecting us all together. Embracing my vulnerability brings me a step closer to my authentic self, better connecting with myself and others.
Brené Brown’s popular Ted Talk on “The Power of Vulnerability”, struck me hard, on my path to authenticity. I encourage all to watch the entire talk. My favorite part is from 8:45-11:10 when she discusses her research regarding people who felt a strong sense of worthiness and what they had in common. Brené says, “they all had courage, compassion, and connection in common. The connection part was a result of authenticity and the willingness to be vulnerable in order to connect with others“. Brené beautifully puts into words exactly what I have been learning and searching for. Additionally, through her research, she validates each revelation I have had in working towards my authentic self.
This journey to authenticity is going to be a good one.