Light and shadow
Are you authentic? And what does that mean to you?
I have been pondering “authenticity” recently.
What does it mean to be authentic? Who is authentic? Am I authentic? Are you authentic?
Two weeks ago I would have said (with assurance): “I am authentic.”
What would that mean?
It meant I am no longer afraid to speak my truth. That I say things that are unique. That I say things which are not necessarily culturally homogenous or expected.
As a child, I looked at the big world and could not figure out how one fit in. What must one say to be liked? Every sentence was gauged for approval. The world seemed scary and judgmental. There must be a secret key which opened an invisible door into love, popularity, belonging.
In 7th grade my fear and shyness became so acute that I basically quit speaking to everyone except the More Shy. At age 15, suddenly, unexpectedly, a more confident self began to birth. But it took many, many years before she flowered.
A teacher, around that time, confided to someone, “I think she has a split personality!”
Ladies and gentlemen, I am here to admit that I have a split personality. It isn’t split two ways. It’s split into hundreds of fragments.
And I’m here to suggest that you, too, have a split personality. If you’re authentic.
We are complex beings. There may be a shy part, an outgoing part, a happy part, a sad part, a vegetarian part, a mother part, a healer part, an addicted part, a saint part, a sinner part…OK, we could continue all day. (Please visit this incredible website called Voice Dialogue International to learn more about the different parts of self and how to more full authenticate them.)
We are composed of different personalities, different likes and dislikes. If we’re aware, we begin to see that we’re not a homogenous blob. We actually have the capability of everything within us, even the parts of possibility which we’ve rejected.
So let’s return to the Authenticity angle.
What is a pertinent definition of “authentic”?
1. true to one’s own personality, spirit or character ( read Authentic Blogger for a blogging take on this.)
But what is one’s own personality, spirit or character? What if we recognize that we are more than a limited definition of personality, spirit or character? Would authenticity, then, be what is arising in the Moment?
We watch fascinating things arise in the Moment. One moment it is silliness and the next it’s profound wisdom. One moment it’s a historical observation and the next moment it’s nature pictures. One moment it’s emotional angst and the next giddy happiness.
Authenticity could mean: telling the truth about what is arising in the Moment.
For years many people knew me as a spiritual contemplative. Some defined me as quiet. When I discovered blogging–and even blogged in a way that seemed inauthentic to their previous definition of who Kathy might be–it became disconcerting.
Do you think authenticity is related to the personality, or to what arises in the Moment? Are we able to be true to what arises, or do we edit ourselves for acceptability? And, as one wise woman suggested recently: Is it a matter of balance? Should we sometimes edit ourselves? Especially if we’re angry, raging, off-balance?
Or should we allow our off-balance to be part of our authenticity? If it doesn’t hurt another person, should we sometimes express our darkness? Should we only reveal the mature and wise and spiritual parts of ourselves to speak? Or do we allow more complex parts to express themselves?
It can be scary.
Let’s say we let a confused part of ourself speak in a public manner. Everyone rushes in with opinions and judgments and ideas about how to “fix” the problem. Yet perhaps the problem does not need to be fixed. The confused part of self merely needed a podium. She needed to express herself. Hearing all these ideas about how to fix the problem may indeed help. Yet it might also confuse more. Because the authentic self is the confused self. It just wants to be heard, too.
Listeners will often get confused when they hear someone share from a little-known part of self. They may then assume that the confused part is a huge slice of the personality, when the confused part may be 2% of the personality.
I have no answers about authenticity. About how to live fully who we are. I do know that authenticity can be messy. It can speak its truth and then expect you to live its consequences.
I like to let my silly side express itself–mostly because it causes me to laugh. Yet, sometimes, the next morning the serious side appears with its assessment, “How COULD you let that one out again? What were you thinking? Let’s write wise blogs instead. What is your problem?”
You then smile gently at the serious side and say, “Here you go. Say what you want to say. It’s your turn next.”
Another side pipes up and says, “Hey! No! I do not want to write a blog about authenticity! Let’s post our photographs of the old Pequaming Community Hall. Let’s talk about something historical. Please don’t write this blog!”
Pequaming Water Tower
Sigh…authenticity. It’s a challenge. It’s also a gift. I hope you enjoyed the photos of the Pequaming. They are…authentic. Aren’t they?
P.S. If you want to read more about the historical aspects of Henry Ford’s model town you could read my blog from last November. Click here or here.
Everyone is satisfied now, aren’t they?