Authentic: of undisputed origin, genuine.
Undisputed -- without argument, accepted. Genuine -- true, sincere.
Did you know that you are of undisputed origin?
That you, all by your little self, are true?
Do you feel that way?
For the better part of my life I felt unsure of myself. Socially awkward. An outsider. I didn't possess "natural" talent and I was a late bloomer in finding pursuits I was interested in. I remember being in Junior High and a "friend" telling me: all you seem to do is talk about your family. I was introverted and felt that my large family (3 brothers and 3 sisters) was sufficient social stimulation -- and I bet my mom would agree! But that was boring to my peers, particularly the ones with smaller families.
We live in a world that is edge driven; easily bored by "normal." What I mean is that culturally we attribute greater value to those who seem better than the rest. We are drawn to those with an edge. Something sets them apart and we find it irresistible. And we want it for ourselves; we envy the edgy. But if we step back we may realize that what makes everyone edgy is often the same: the desire to be noticed as unique.
I reject that being authentic is being edgy, being noticeable, or even being successful. I believe that it is much the opposite. I believe that authenticity is finding beauty in the ordinary. Celebrating ordinary. Not to be confused with embracing mediocrity, which is to settle or accept a version of yourself stagnant. But being authentic is embracing exactly who you are. Today. Knowing that you are bravely becoming someone improved. You may wish to be something or someone else but that would not be authentic. Owning who you are in this day, in this moment, and liking who you are is truly authentic.
Each day you are a little bit different than who you were the day before, if you choose to grow alongside time. Ideally that's a positive and exciting thought! Everyday you're moving one notch closer to who you will become and it would be tragic not to enjoy each day, each opportunity for growth and humility. Because then the becoming was just...waiting. Waiting to be recognized, waiting to be successful, waiting to be happy. Are you waiting to be happy?
Personally, I'm not a very patient person. I want to help happy along.
Being grateful for who I am today, what I have today, the journey to become bravely today helps happy happen today.
Appreciating the authenticity of others is just as important. But I believe it to be a consequence of accepting one's own authenticity. When we allow ourselves to feel undisputedly genuine, we begin to see others in the same light.
See, no one is only as they seem. And because I recognize how much deeper my being is than the labels I claim about myself (which are largely representative of the roles I play in others lives: mother, wife, sister), then I have to assume that there is a deep well beneath the surface of those I meet as well. That causes me to love them better. To affirm them more frequently. And gives me a front row seat to watch their transformation into someone who begins to authentically feel.
It's true. Not every day will feel remarkable but surely there must be something to remark on each day. You do not want each day to fade into the oblivion of monotony. And the only way to set today apart from yesterday is to embrace it authentically.
And if you aren't feeling it, if today feels impossible (because some days do), then make this day about helping others. Take a break from your own story and be a hero in someone else's. Reach on the tough days, stretch yourself a little bit more into someone more flexible, more selfless, more rich in experience, more complex, and you'll find that at the end of your hard day you will have added to your undisputedly genuine story.
And what a beautiful story to tell.
Related: Bravely Becoming