Authenticity. Real talk. Lack of pretense. Honesty. Whatever you want to call it, it is EVERYTHING. Its also the hardest thing in the world. We live in a world that punishes authenticity while at the same time, in the marrow of our bones, we crave it in ourselves and others.
However, society says, “be authentic! Be you! BUT NOT LIKE THAT.” Not like the dorky introvert intellectual who craves deep conversation over shallow extroverted small talk. Not the fat girl who loves herself. Not the trans person who has the courage to be who they are. Not the woman shattering the glass ceiling. Not the stay at home dad. Not the protector of the weak and vulnerable. Not the PoC fighting for justice. Not the liberal in the middle of red state hell. Not Greta Thunberg. Stay in your lane. Be the you we want you to be.
FUCK THAT. FUCK THAT ALL TO SPRINKLE COVERED HELL. To be oneself in the face of societal oppression is a courageous and political act. To love and accept oneself and to show that beautiful self to the world is an act of vulnerability that most people never have the chutzpah to undertake. I believe that true vulnerability can change the world. We crave what is real. Most of us already feel defective and outside of the societal ideal. I think we are all looking for some sign that we belong. Our tribe. There are a hell of a lot more of us in the outgroup than in the ingroup, frens, and the willingness of folks to be their authentic and quirkly selves pushes us to question who gets to decide who or what is “in.” The willingness to stand up and say, “this is who the fuck I am ,” makes the world a kinder, safer, more welcoming place for everyone.
Authenticity is power. If you are your true self, no one can shake you. You don’t have to worry about keeping up with some ideal, and you know your strengths and weaknesses. When you aren’t wasting your time chasing the thing you were never meant to be in the first place, you have a hell of a lot more time for what is important to you. Or netflix. Or whatever.
To me, authenticity = trust. If a person is truly authentic, then I know who I am dealing with, and whether that person is worthy of trust. Trust is the bedrock of a functioning society. If we cannot basically trust each other and our government, what the fuck are we doing here? (tho right now, i’m feeling shaky about the US- i’m looking at you, right-wing evangelicals who voted for Fuckface Von Clownstick, and you racists, sexists and homo-phobes. Can you read the actual bible PLEASE?) Authenticity doesn’t mean that the person doesn’t make mistakes or have weaknesses, but rather that they are aware of them, and work to make amends when necessary. That is true integrity to me.
I work hard to be authentic. I hope that by sharing my foibles, weaknesses and challenges that other people feel less alone. I want to be real. I crave that realness in others, and that feeling of being “seen.” I try to be humble and to act with integrity. If I have a good reputation with people, I want it to be because of who I am, not what I am supposed to be. And legit? I’m too lazy and mentally ill to be anyone else. I can barely keep up with who I am. So fuck it.
Photo by Sharon McCutcheon on Unsplash