Best Gift Ever – Authenticity
As someone who has written her fair share of thank you notes, I know that the simplest and hardest gift to offer and/or give is the gift of self. It is scary. It is risky. It is one thing if someone doesn’t like a sweater you have given to them. It is another thing entirely if you offer them yourself and they reject that. After all, rejection hurts.
Google has defined this blog as “inspirational” so it may surprise you when I write/say this: Someone doesn’t like you. Yes, it is true. Someone out there does not like you and possibly, they have even rejected you. Guess what? You are still alive. You survived that rejection. They did not like you and – surprise, surprise, you survived. It is not only okay that they did not like you; it might just be the very best compliment you have ever received.
Authenticity of self is much like authenticity of a priceless piece of art. Like that piece of art, you are a creation, valuable in your uniqueness. Earlier in this series we discussed our “inner voice”. Meredith Monk explains one purpose of our inner voice in helping us strive to be authentic in our lives: “That inner voice has both gentleness and clarity. So to get to authenticity, you really keep going down to the bone, to the honesty, and the inevitability of something.”
It is unfortunate that many people view one end result of being authentic is an accompanying vulnerability. Unfortunately, we often view such vulnerability as wrong. It is almost as though we have left something valuable unattended. If we are vulnerable, then we must be doing something wrong.
Bah humbug. Admittedly not the most eloquent sentence I have ever “borrowed” from a classical writer but it fits. Let me repeat it: Bah humbug! We are human beings, not walking fortresses or safes needing to be secured against an invading army or crew of robbers. We are works of art but our purpose is to share and be shared. Otherwise we are living visionless and without purpose.
No one currently walking on this earth ever learned to walk without falling down. It is part of the growth process. I personally don’t remember the first time I stumbled. I am fairly certain I probably cried out when it happened, though. Falling down hurts, but how marvelous that I got up and kept trying. Now I can walk, dance, and take myself any number of places….and it’s all because I first fell down. I was first was vulnerable but that vulnerability led to being independent and strong. I grew into being mobile and that took me into the world.
When we are true to ourselves, living an authentic life, we are really living. More importantly, we are increasing our self-worth, growing a better being. In the play “Hamlet”, William Shakespeare offered a bit of great advice: “This above all: To thine own self be true. And it must follow, as the night the day, Thou canst not then be false to any man.”
When we are authentic, we are vulnerable. Sarah Ban Breathnach, author of the bestselling book “Simple Abundance”, described it as “The authentic self is soul made visible.” Take a second and reread that last sentence, please. The vulnerability comes not from our being weak or deficit but by being visible. When we are present, truly and honestly present in our own life, then we are our authentic self.
“To be nobody but myself in a world which is doing its best, night and day, to make me somebody else means to fight the hardest battle any human can fight, and never stop fighting.” The poet E. E. Cummings just described the difficulty in being authentic.
To be authentic is to be honest. People often shy away from honesty but you need to be honest in spite of their fears. Carl Jung once said that it was ‘the privilege of a lifetime…to become who you truly are.” It is the best gift you can give, not only to the world but to yourself.