What does it mean to walk in our authenticity anyway?

I think one of the more disturbing trends in society these days is the lack of connection we humans experience. Seriously, though, when did connecting become such a difficult task? We are thriving in an age where connecting and being heard is easier than ever, but human to human interaction is suffering. I’ve often wondered if we haven’t entered into some reclusive, but inclusive age.

I interact with people on a daily basis, but I realize that I do not really “know” them. Even the people I see regularly. They don’t really “know” me. I know what they put out into the world, the picture they paint for outsiders, but I don’t know who they really are. If I sit and think about this for too long, I start to become a little saddened by this thought.

Life is such a short and precious journey. We are here for a brief moment in history, and then we’re gone. To think that most of us enter and exit this earth without ever really connecting on a deeper level with someone? It makes me wonder what life is really about.

So often we hear that we are supposed to speak our truth. I don’t know about you, but I don’t know many people who really do that. It took me a lot of years, but I finally figured out that I didn’t really know anyone the way I thought I did. They didn’t really know me. That hit me about a year ago at the ripe age of 32.

For example: I spent 18 years in a friendship with someone that I thought I knew, but the person I knew was the person I chose to see. In the end, that wasn’t who they were at all. It took going through some really difficult things to understand that, and the hardest part was taking my responsibility in that and knowing that maybe she had been that person all along. Maybe I had just chosen not to see that. So, in that way, everything that happened before our falling out was equally my fault.

I finally realized that my friend was very uncomfortable in her own skin a lot of the time. She was constantly trying to be something different for everyone in her life. So, who she was with me was not necessarily who she was with someone else. It doesn’t make her a bad person, but people who don’t know who to be, the people who change faces with each person in their lives, they’re dangerous people to trust in some ways. You never really know those people, because they never really know themselves. In that way, every interaction with them is quite possibly a fallacy.

It’s fair to say that each of us adapts to changes in situations and groups of people. However, for a lot of us, our personality does not shift drastically from situation to situation. We are who we are all of the time, just muted at the appropriate times. Not everyone is that comfortable with themselves. It’s possible that some people are just meant to be deceitful and hurtful to teach us what not to do. I tend to want to believe in the best in everyone, so I’m not inclined to easily accept a person’s bad behavior.  However, when a mistake is made over and over again…it has then become a habit.

The conclusion I have come to in all of this is that there are people who live in fear of who they are. Those people are afraid that they cannot be loved “as is” so they cover up and transform and change to be accepted into the situation, the crowd, the relationship. It’s no wonder that marriages don’t last, and friendships end. It’s no wonder that some of us wake up one day and realize we don’t feel tethered to anything substantial in life.

Self help books tell us to walk in our authenticity, but I don’t even really know what that means. Probably because I’m not entirely sure why we are having to be coached into acting like our natural selves, yet the self help industry is thriving. It’s as if human evolution has taught us the defense mechanism of hiding. Those that take on this way of living have a hard road. I don’t think it is possible to be firm in any decision, choice, opinion, or direction in life if you live in fear of who you are. It is essentially faking your way through. I doubt there is a single genuine love or connection in life for those who take that course.

It is an incredibly scary thing to be genuinely you all of the time. I’ve lived at both ends of the spectrum in this discussion. I spent a period of time trying to change myself to become what someone else wanted me to be. I packed away the person I knew I was in order to make others comfortable. I was miserable there, and started to behave in ways that I did not respect. I started to hate everything I had become and everything I projected out into the world. I had transformed into a person I did not recognize, and I didn’t like that person. She was not genuine, or stable. She was not happy, or productive. She was conflicted, and torn.

When I finally decided I didn’t want to be that person, that I didn’t want to do those things, I had lost a friend, my marriage, and my future. That all sounds really depressing, but the reality is that I’m glad it happened. The connection I had with each of them was not real, or lasting, or deep. I love them both to this day, and I likely always will, but each of us comes to a place in life where we have to let go of the things that do not better us. We have to decide what grows us, and love like that does not aide us in growth. It hinders us, and makes us feel guilty. It makes us feel inadequate and lonely.

I believe that a deep and genuine connection with another human being requires that we love them exactly where they are, and that the unconditional love is then reciprocated.  Loving is the most natural thing in this world, yet it doesn’t seem that most of us understand how to do it. Some people will be with us for our entire lives, and some we will love in the understanding that it will have to be done from a distance. Finding the ones who reciprocate that deep love is probably the entire point of life.

The biggest battle we face is opening ourselves up to trust people and to test the waters to see if we can have that kind of connection. The biggest personal struggle each individual faces is loving ourselves exactly where we are. Putting everything on the table and allowing others to fully see us in all of our ugliness and beauty simultaneously.

When you decide to be exactly who you are you will absolutely lose people along the way. You will upset people because you are no longer the person they expect you to be. There are those that will stay and continue to grow with you, but more will resemble enemies in your life. In some ways, this will hurt. I’m actually downplaying that a little bit. It will be unbearably painful at times.

When you’ve walked in that honesty for a little while, you feel different. No, it isn’t some magic cure all for every heavy burden we face in life, but it is a laying down of the unnecessary fucks you’ve been giving to people. It renews the soul in some ways, and heals you. You’ll feel the loss of those people and situations for a little while. Maybe forever. Your ego will hold on to the memories, and you’ll wrestle with your self worth because suddenly everyone isn’t accepting you anymore. You’ll also realize that the ones who do genuinely accept you in all that you are will come in to your life and they will want to stay. It’s a kind of house cleaning to make space for the things that do matter, and that will feel much better than being popular with the people you can’t be yourself with.

I had a very difficult time giving up my old life, a few relationships I thought I would have forever, and a future I meticulously and carefully planned. Ego. Ego is a huge pain in the ass. I cried a lot, and wondered if faking my way through life wasn’t the better way to go. Then I slapped myself out of that stupidity and kept on moving ahead.

I don’t know about you, but I’d rather be on my death bed knowing that the people I surrounded myself with weren’t the people poking holes in my boat.  I would rather unload people in this journey and leave them sitting like hitchhikers along my path. I would rather feel the weightlessness of not giving too many fucks to situations, and people that didn’t enrich my life.

I do not believe life is about deserving or not deserving, or should and shouldn’t have. It isn’t about regretting the choices we’ve made, or the people we allowed into our lives who didn’t belong there. If you’re feeling empty in life, seek out new people. If you end up in a place or a relationship that doesn’t serve you, pack up and continue on. Life is for experiencing and connecting. You will fail along the way. You will have people exit your journey. Let them go. That’s life’s little way of opening up a space for the ones who are meant to join you.

I believe I have figured out that the one true point in life is to meet people we can genuinely connect with and to do that, we have to be our truest selves. These are the people that will pass our legacy, or maybe just carry it with them like their favorite secret.

You will recognize your true people when you find them. They’ll be tending garden in a field of selective fucks to give. These will be the people looking for genuine connection. As a human being, becoming authentic in order to genuinely connect with others is the greatest freedom there is. It is also the greatest journey that life offers us all.  May the field in which you grow love be plentiful while your field of fucks to give be minimal, both cultivated through genuine means.

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