Are you authentic?

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.

More authenticity?

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.

Glory days...

 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?

About Kathy

I live in the middle of the woods in Michigan's Upper Peninsula. Next to Lake Superior's cold shores. I love to blog.
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36 Responses to Are you authentic?

  1. holessence says:

    Kathy – I particularly resonated when you said:

    “I do know that authenticity can be messy. It can speak its truth and then expect you to live its consequences.”

    Amen, siSTAR!

  2. Shanel says:

    Many sides of me are satisfied with this blog Kathy, not all but many. That’s ok too. I like the idea of authenticity being what it is in that moment. I think i choose, in this moment, to adopt that very idea as one of my many beliefs. Thanks for posting this. It’s so nice to see that wise has a silly side. 🙂

    • Kathy says:

      One of my sides, Shanel, said “What do you mean, all of her sides don’t like all of the blog?” LOL! I think perhaps when we learn to unconditionally love all the parts of ourselves that perhaps–just perhaps–we’ll be able to unconditionally love the rest of the whole wide world. Just a thought! (The silly side is glad you like it. I like your silly side, too.)

  3. Susan D says:

    I agree that authenticity is both a challenge and a gift. I believe that my editors are sometimes my protectors, even while the wild child cries to be released and heard. Both parts are authentic.

    Like holessence, I resonate with your saying “I do know that authenticity can be messy. It can speak its truth and then expect you to live its consequences.” Definitely have had to live with those kinds of consequences. Learning to appreciate the mess is an ongoing process.

    I have an authentic night-time comic. She feels free to take over in the dark. In the morning, she wakes to Miss Priss who says to Comic: “What WERE you thinking? Go delete … Now.” Sometimes, I listen to Miss Priss. Sometimes, I don’t. I love her. She helps me get things done.

    Sigh – hardest for me to be authentic when I’m really hurting. Just whip around all giggles and light as the hurt shuffles around inside wondering if I’ll let her share with anyone. The beauty is finding a few friends who accept, and even love, all the authentic parts.

    I am blessed, Kathy, that you are one of these friends to/for me.

    Intense topic … hitting deeply today. Will check out Voice Dialogue Intl. Thank you for the post. The photos are perfect companions to the words.

    • Kathy says:

      Susan D, I think I have authentically–finally!–scared all the commenters away. Laughing… Except for a few of you hard cores. Although who knows who might authentically show up later? I so agree with you about how it’s the hardest when we’re hurting. Then all those inner selves just start warring. I am convinced that the first war starts within. The external world then mirrors what we haven’t been able to love in ourselves. Does that sound too harsh? It’s just that I think we should all work at loving our multitude of selves, and then the exterior world will start to fall in place. Easier said than done…

  4. Karma says:

    I don’t know if I’ve ever examined my deep, inner, self well enough to know if I am authentic. As you’ve expressed above, it is difficult to define, and even more difficult, I think, to apply the definition to one’s self. Isn’t it interesting though, that we are usually able to pick out a “phony” in others?

    • Kathy says:

      It is difficult to define, Karen–I so agree with you. I am wondering, when we look at others and define them as “phony” what we are feeling. Are we feeling that they are somehow acting? This is such an interesting subject to me! Thank you…

      • Cindy Lou says:

        I sometimes feel so ‘unwise’ in these kinds of topics – I, too, don’t examine my inner self well. One of the things I like most about ‘my blogs’ (picture my kids smiling indulgently :)) is that they get me thinking more and becoming more aware. Thanx again, Kathy….

        I try to be authentic, but as I get older – it sometimes feels like work.

        • Kathy says:

          I think of you as wise, Cindy Lou. (I know you have a wise part.) I probably think about awareness and the selves and Spirit way too much! At least one side thinks about it a lot…

  5. Robin says:

    There is a lot here to mull over, in your blog post as well as the comments. I suspect I’ll be contemplating the topic for a while. It might be a good one to take with me on my beach walks.

    The photos went with your essay so well.

    • Kathy says:

      Robin, we shall both be walking on the beach and thinking about this. I don’t think there are any easy definitive answers. But there is much to ponder!

  6. John says:

    I believe that Authentic is not something that “is” or “Is not”. It is not something that can be measured with a ruler, weighed with a scale or graphed on a chart. In my mind it is a goal, an intention or direction. It is relative to time, place and context.

    It is like trying to move a glob of jelly across a table with a scraper. Sometimes it gets pushed right and sometimes it gets pushed left, most often it is pushed on an angle. If the sum of those actions results in getting the glob of jelly closer to the spot you are aiming for then you succeed.

    Yes, authenticity, just like moving that glob of jelly, “can be messy”. If we enjoy the process of working our way towards our goal, I think that is a sign of being authentic. Being silly, being spiritual, being factual, being philosophic, being reflective … in sum total can be your authentic self.

  7. Kathy says:

    John, what a lovely way you expressed this! It is so relative, indeed. I like what you say about the sum total being our authentic self. Does it come down to the spot that we are aiming for? I love that you answered.

    • John says:

      Ya know lady, you have no idea how many discussions have grown out of the seed known as your blog. Are you familiar with the Butterfly Effect / chaos theory? The one where a butterfly flapping its wings in Korea can start a chain of events that eventually cause a tornado in Kansas to change its direction. Before this ends I have a feeling people in India will be debating the Authenticity of Barack Obama before he leaves Asia.

      • Kathy says:

        I hope many discussions and thoughts have butterflied (is that a word?) out of all our blogs. I like the idea that our ponderings can create far-away ripples and changes in direction. Thank you for your thoughtful comments.

  8. Colleen says:

    Kathy, I don’t have any answers either. Sometimes I wonder if it’s the word itself that is the challenge. It seems to be so “charged”, so many expectations….spiritual and otherwise.
    What if we are just our own blessed and natural self in any given moment, being as present and accounted for as we are able (or know how) to be in any given moment, with whoever or whatever is in front of us in that particular moment. Whatever this might look like. Maybe this is enough……?

    • Kathy says:

      You may be right, Colleen. The words is very charged and filled with expectations. I think your assessment, your answer, is a good one. Thank you for adding your wisdom.

  9. Cindy Lou says:

    I really like what you said, Colleen…’to be whoever we are in any given moment.’

    Very cool photos!

  10. Dawn says:

    I think this was not the blog to skim…as I tried to do. Home late from work, need to take more time to read this again. I just wanted to know where the photos were from! LOL! I’ll be back!

    • Kathy says:

      Heavens know. This is not a skim-able blog. I can just picture some people squinting at the screen and saying, “What is she talking about? What people inside ourselves?” lol! You come back. We want to hear your wisdom, too. And the photos are from Pequaming. Did you ever visit Henry Ford’s old ghost town?

  11. barb says:

    Welllll – I’m having a hard time getting past the toilet. And this sentence, “I do know that authenticity can be messy.” I think I’ll have to ponder the topic of authenticity a bit more.

    • Kathy says:

      I am laughing out loud, Barb. Should I have left the toilet out? Would it have been an easier blog to handle without that toilet? You never know what you’re going to get over here at this blog. You ponder and let us know.

  12. Kim says:

    Stopped by your blog today and thought this was a great post! I agree that we each have so many different sides to ourselves, it’s hard to say when we are being authentic or not. You know I wonder, if everyone were their authentic selves all of the time, would it make us all more similar in nature, or more different? Hmmm… 😉

    • Kathy says:

      Glad you liked this, Kim. I used to write these kinds of blogs all the time on another site. (The Deep Thinking Self, you know.) Such a good question you ask. Different or more similar? OK, now I’m going hmmmm, too.

  13. Carol says:

    Okay. I love your pictures. Almost all of your pictures. The toilet? Not so much. True life, authentic? Most likely? Attractive? Nah.
    What is authentic? Oh gosh, you tangled that word around so many ways, my brain didn’t want to keep up. Your thinking is obviously deeper, more searching than mine. To me, authentic is being true to yourself; not attempting to be something or someone other than what you are. Wrinkles and all. I can paint myself up, stuff my garments all I want, but I am still not Marilyn Monroe.

    • Kathy says:

      Carol, I have such a Deep Thinker part you wouldn’t believe it. OK, maybe you do now. I can think circles around circles. I also like to startle us from our complacency and throw in odd pictures like toilets to wake up our authenticity. LOL! I like your definition. You are yourself. The best possible person to be!

  14. Marianne says:

    This is a great discussion, Kathy. Authenticity is a topic I’ve mulled over for many years. I yearn to live my truest life. I’m learning to go within to find my deepest truth. It’s coming bit by bit and it feels incredibly joyous.

  15. sonali says:

    luvved the post and your idea about “Authentic” life. The very fact that the way we react, sometimes being moody, sometimes happy & jolly, sometimes quite, sometimes angry, irritated and so on, itself adds authenticity to our life and makes it so interesting! Is’nt it? Quite importantly, the environment around, some of the amazing people who pass your life by, certain smallest of things, colors of life play a crucial role in adding the authenticity to ourselves. Very much thought provoking blog post! hatsoff!! 🙂

  16. Authenticity could mean: telling the truth about what is arising in the Moment.

    I like this one…..not to gloss over and say or do what wants to be done or heard, or what others wants us to do or say.
    Our true self, opinion, or otherwise has to come out to be fully in the moment….I will ponder this one, as I tend to hold those things too much inside, as not to offend or hurt, or cause a comotion…(Drama!)….what a wimp I am, not a drama queen……..

    I agree that there are a million situations we find ourselves and I don’t care what anyone says….that toilet is sometimes much more reality than we care to admit. Even those that seem to have life wrapped up in a shiny colored package with a bow on top…see the outhouse…

    • Kathy says:

      When I learned Voice Dialogue (in the Chicago area) a couple of years we would do things like have the Wimp converse with the Drama Queen. Such amazing lessons! I would recommend Voice Dialogue for everyone. You can’t imagine the gifts you gain with this technique. It’s hard to describe to anyone who hasn’t tried it.

  17. Elisa's Spot says:

    Good Morning Kathy!

    Puter still not fixed! I see up above you are in the nice and warm!!

    Thanks for posting this blog, some individuals from my past, that were indeed helpful, have attempted to define me and to redirected what they consider my stability to meet their mold of who I am. They are or were and authority and I am not quite sure yet how to address them, if I need to bother at all. Thank you for the reminder of my newer ability to observe and to know and to choose what to do next, instead of being that candle in the wind. (unless i want to be…)

    • Kathy says:

      Hi, Elisa. I am nice and warm–but kinda sick today. My own fault. Haven’t been minding my diet enough lately. I like how you say “unless I want to be”. That is a very important choice.

Thank you for reading. May you be blessed in your life...may you find joy in the simple things...

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