The Gift of Authenticity
Years ago I had what seemed at the time like a close friend. We were spending a lot of time together in group settings and with our children and alone on occasion. The thing was, you never knew what you were going to get with her. Sometimes she was lovely and great company, sometimes she was rowdy and a lot of fun, sometimes she was down right rude and hard to get along with, sometimes she seemed to have a wall up to create distance and make herself appear to be something (I’m still not sure what it was). One day when we were together, she was having a bad day and really let her guard down and spoke from her heart. I got to see this open and genuine side to her. It was a bit of a relief and very refreshing. I can’t remember exactly how I worded it, but I told her on the spot how much I liked her when she was just really being honest and open and sharing how she was really feeling that day. She quickly responded, saying “Well, it’s not practical for me to come with my ‘woe is me’ story every day.” She quickly returned to her somewhat closed up protective persona.
I let this friendship slip away. That wouldn’t happen today. That friendship taught me a lot throughout the years. I now know that you can only see in others what you have in yourself. Even as I recalled my experience of her above, it didn’t seem real anymore. I think I would now experience her in a completely different way. I was choosing to experience her in that limited way. I was not as far along on my own path of finding my authentic self. Perhaps when we aren’t there authentically, we can’t feel others authenticity either and we don’t offer a space that welcomes it.
I used to think I was too open. I would sometimes regret having shared too much with someone and have that sick feeling of regret. I would then try to tell myself I wouldn’t share so much next time and that I would learn from that feeling…only to have it happen again soon. I haven’t had that in a long time. I didn’t become less open, I just found my way to more authenticity. For that, I am truly grateful! Recently someone meaning well and trying to give me helpful advice relating to my children’s activities told me to “keep my distance” with a particular group. She had compelling reasons and was really trying to help me navigate a situation for my children. Her advice seemed reasonable and she had much more experience in this arena than me…for a minute I thought I might be able to do what she was suggesting. It didn’t work. I figured out very quickly that I am just not a “keep your distance” kind of person. If I am there, I am open. For me to try to create distance would stop the flow of life and I want to experience that flow and whatever it may bring. When you are completely authentic and present (or at least as present as you are able to be), the interaction will be what it is meant to be and the fear of over-sharing can drop away.
Authenticity comes slowly over time (like most wondrous gifts). Without knowing it, I have been working at it for years. As a child, I was so afraid of everything. Even butterflies. I made many choices out of fear of what others might think or to do what I thought I was supposed to do. It is remarkable how little what I really wanted or felt meant to me. I think it is sad to spend time walking around with masks on trying to protect ourselves from something…but really, just keeping ourselves from living. I want everyone to know how amazing it feels to truly stand in your own authenticity. It is such a relief to ourselves and to others who spend time with us. It allows us to make brave choices that align with our purpose and to truly grab hold of this life and live it.
It is a beautiful thing to be so “you” everywhere you go. Sometimes I am shocked at how different it feels these days to be authentically me. Sometimes the things that bring me the most joy surprise me so. Many things have changed slowly over time and I have found the authentic me to be much more than I thought as I have learned to chart my own course and make authentic choices for my life. Whatever it is, whatever I am feeling, I am it…no pretense, no people pleasing, no mask…just me. Sometimes I have it together and spread love and joy. Sometimes I am a mess and it shows. Whatever it is, it is authentic. When it is a mess, it doesn’t last long…authenticity has a way of bringing us back to the only thing that truly exists…love. It sort of wipes all the fake stuff out-of-the-way and brings more space for love.
We know in our hearts how important authenticity is. We must work to find it and know it so well we live from that space in every choice, action, thought or word. Once we can live in this way, we can work to expand it and watch it grow us into our true nature. The Universe is authentic, it will meet us in that space and we will see our connectedness to everything and how we see the world will be transformed.
Sending you love and wishing you authenticity in everything you do and a reciprocal flow from everyone you meet!