Lesson 20: Authenticity
When I step out into the world, who I present is not me. It is a manicured, managed version of myself. Someone who smiles and lights up when I see you, but I’m not really seeing you – I’m too busy worrying whether I am smiling right or if you can smell my anxiety. When I have a conversation with you I want you to know I’m listening so much that I forget to listen.
What it comes down to is this: I’m trying to be someone else other than me. Due to specific experiences in childhood that I won’t get into now, I am terrified that people will find out that I’m mean; thus, I carefully curate this shellac version of myself. The inauthenticity seeps through the cheap veneer, cracking the shell of my created exterior.
Nothing is real in this fake world that I create. My Hello’s are hollow, smiles waver, and my tongue gets tied trying to remember the right sequence of words. People look at me wondering why there’s an uneasy feeling of incongruence – “What’s the catch?”
A Turning Point
When I took on this work of TantraBanter with Jim, part of it was due to this false living I’ve been doing. In so many ways, my true self is hidden from view. Uncomfortable in my own skin, who I am only comes alive to a select group of people. It was clear to me that if I didn’t take the plunge, I would eventually become a living corpse, drying out in my husk.
So what gives this papery holographic, some juice?
Where I feel most expressed is through my writing; it is how I give voice to my inner world. For a long time, even sharing my written world was scary. It still is.
I’m putting myself out there for people to know me! Unthinkable! What will they think? Bah, no one cares about what I have to say anyway!
And yet, despite all this negative self talk around putting myself out there, I continue to do this because the reward is immense. It is life-giving to express oneself. There is a connection to the soul that is generated when one is authentic. The concept of authenticity is new to me.
For a long time, I thought everyone else also curated their beings. I thought we were all out there pretending to be people we wanted to be. A wannabe.
And really, philosophically speaking, aren’t we all just putting together an identity for ourselves? Aren’t we all just a nebulous, pulsing energy bundled in some skin and a framework of bones? What is identity anyway? Why can’t I just choose a personality and where it like an outfit of the day?
This was how I saw personality, as identity that people feel way too connected to – like sports teams, Nationalism, and political leanings.
While I know my true self not as an identity or a collection of identities, what I hadn’t considered before is that I am a unique self come alive with energy. And life dances through me, animating my being. There is an authentic self, a voice that only I can contribute to speak my Truth, adding my story to the ocean of humanity.
What does finding my voice mean? It means this. Writing and sharing. Opening up to people and being vulnerable. Letting people know what I’m going through and up to. It means taking risks and sounding dumb sometimes or a lot of the time. It’s face-planting off a longboard, getting back up, and using it as inspiration for a blog post. It’s experiencing life out there and not just inside my head, in my home, and within my small circle of friends and family. It’s my experiences out there, intermingling with yours.
Read the other 19 Lessons here!