Authenticity is a word that is easily thrown around these days. When I first discovered this concept quite a while back, I got very excited and started a quest of finding what it meant to me. Although there’s always more to discover, I’m pretty content with the results of my searches and feel like being myself whenever, wherever is not an issue anymore.
Together with a desire to save appearances, I lost interest in having dry conversations just to fill the quiet space. I gained more room for listening and, even when I wasn’t, I could still hear more than I expected. Beyond every conversation lies a deeper one that talks about existential life issues. Often, there is a big question lurking in the background. It surfaces in different ways in the things we say and how we say them.
It’s sometimes a challenge to attend the spectacle of appearances where we say things without really saying them, draw a lipstick smile to cover up a grimace or speak incessantly and loudly weaving our hands as if to chase away anything too raw. There is a right time for all of us to go deeper and get real with our fears and desires, it’s not about how long it takes. However, being authentic can begin with small steps and what better place to start than casual social contexts.
It’s okay not to smile, it’s okay not to talk all the time, it’s okay to feel uncomfortable. As long as you are real to your moment, to your journey, to your deep fears and secret joys, that will transpire and a whole new type of conversation may arise.
Authenticity is an overused word nowadays. But the strong urge behind it is more necessary than ever. What’s the use of pleasantries when we’re bleeding inside? A happier, truer life awaits not in fixing everything that seems broken, but in accepting and being open about who we are, what hurts us and what we secretly long for.
Photo by Matthew Henry.