It sounds pretty simple, actually. Be yourself. Be true to who you are. Authenticity is a word tossed around frequently these days, a word used with abandon, but sometimes with little affect. I’m really hoping it doesn’t become some new buzzword, like ‘green’ has; a word who’s meaning has faded into a vapor that really means nothing anymore.
I try to focus on that real sense of me, both here on this blog and in my life, wishing to be true to the meaning of ‘authentic’ “not false or copied; genuine, real.” (Websters, 2010) It’s not a word I use loosely, in some effort to sound like something I’m not. I long ago gave up the sense that I had to be something in order for people to like me, and surprisingly (with a big ‘Duh’) once I dropped the stage act that I had no idea I was portraying, my life opened up and the blessings, friendships and opportunities rained down like a mighty monsoon.
But following your heart, and being true to who you are is hard. Reaching deep inside yourself to find the very pulse that makes you tick is a daunting task, and often filled with questions and fear. I firmly believe that each of us has within us an inherent wheel that pushes our life, and we are called to find the power that drives it. Most do, but many don’t. And I know it’s challenging. I’m still on that journey, the long road stretching out before me, and I can’t see over the horizon. But that’s good because it keeps pushing me forward, trying to find what’s over that next rise on the road. There have been moments on this road of mine, moments I’ve dropped to a crouch to fend off the absurdities of life, pulling my head down against the gale winds trying to knock me over, and I’ve stayed there, blind and scared to stand up, to continue on. I know people who’ve simply given up in this manner. There they sit, and there they’ll stay.
That’s not for me.
But being true means you need to admit when you’re scared; admit when you’re facing something daunting, or embarking on a new venture that’s both perfect and frightening. It means you reach out to people who can help talk you off the ledge. It means you say ‘I don’t know.’ when you really don’t know. It means you tell someone ‘No, I can’t do that. I’m sorry.’ when you can’t possibly fit another task on your calendar. It means you need to sometimes tell a truth that will hurt someone, like your spouse or your child or a close friend that just isn’t getting it, and it means that you shouldn’t have to apologize for being truthful. But it’s also being able to apologize when you’ve done wrong, accepting forgiveness from others, being able to forgive others and stick by that. It involves letting go of grudges and inequalities. It means calling a friend and saying ‘I screwed up.’ and being willing to come clean with your mistakes. It means making cookies when you want them, and making the exact ones you crave instead of what you think everyone else will like. It’s saying ‘I just can’t handle this, can you please help me?’ It’s about taking a walk, alone. Or just going to the library for quiet, for an hour of reading mindless magazines, or staring out the window or browsing a bookshelf whether you want to read or not. It means understanding where you fit in life, and recognizing that not everyone will be your friend, but the ones that keep showing up when you reach out, when you suggest dinner, a drink or morning coffee, are the ones you need to focus on the most.
And it means that even when every facet of life is pulling you all crazy, like a wild rubberband, that you have to grab the nearest anchor and tell the world to stop. Listen to your heart screaming ‘ENOUGH!!’ Forget the laundry and the shopping and the cleaning. Because the world will survive without you, for a day or two. But your heart will shrink, and your soul will crumble if you don’t give it the rest it deserves.
This is me; the real me. Who I am is plain to anyone in my circle, those drawn to my truth.