Authenticity is an ongoing process of inquiry, not a static state of being. A person isn’t one day all of a sudden authentic, nor is authenticity something we achieve through accumulated effort.
As Brené Brown explains, “authenticy is a collection of choices that we have to make every day.” And then, if we are lucky, we get to rise up and make them all over again the next.
Authenticity is a word and concept that, from age 18 until recently, gave me the heebee jeebees. Mostly because I’m in an academic discipline that is suspect of essentialist ideas, but also because when academics do embrace authenticity, it is usually a pre-packaged variety of it, palatable to the powers that be. So, not authenticity at all.
When I leave the noise of academia behind, I find that authenticity is the core of everything I do. Authenticity is one of my core values, and to be inauthentic is to step out of my integrity.
Just because I know that doesn’t mean it’s easy.
One way authenticity pains me in particular is that often I’d prefer to fly under the radar, but my authenticity is a wee bit bossy, and has loud and rough hewn edges.
My authenticity often demands I behave in ways that will draw attention to myself when really I’d rather not.
My authenticity asks me to learn new skills, to grow, to be better.
When I’d rather stay in my office and read book after book and never leave the house, authenticity tells me to get my ass up.
Authenticity likes my discomfort.
For most of my adult life I have struggled with depression. Some of this is my biology.
But some of my depression stems from living out of alignment with my authenticity, from being out of touch with my core self and values.
Authenticity is energy, and when we don’t engage it, it metastasizes in a whole variety of ways.
Brené Brown has written extensively about this and explains that when we hide from or avoid authenticity, that energy instead often transforms into “anxiety, depression, eating disorders, addiction, rage, blame, resentment, and inexplicable grief.”
That is quite a list, and most of us have experienced one, some, or all of the above.
The patriarchy likes me depressed, because depression is a powerless state in which I will more easily eat the lies of capitalism.
Authenticity is necessary for agency, and the patriarchy works hard to keep us from being agents of joy, thought, love, and justice.
Authenticity is the center of our power.
Much of modern life is designed to keep us from being authentic, to keep us from understanding we’re not being authentic, thus keeping us in a state of powerlessness.
There is so much to unpack about authenticity, but the thing I really want you to take away right now is this: to be authentic is an act of resistance.
To resist is to push back, to rebel against oppression.
When something as necessary as authenticity is rebellious, the culture is broken.
To tap more deeply into your authenticity, do some reflection on the following questions.
- What activities make you feel most alive?
- What kinds of interactions with others enliven you?
- When have others responded to you in deep and profound ways?
The answers to those questions are clues to your authenticity.
Send me an email [to cherri @ cherriporter.com]. I’d love to hear your answers.