I've been told on numerous occasions that I am a very authentic person. To which my reply has and always will be "thank you very much". But at one point I started questioning that. Was I really authentic? What does it mean to be authentic? These questions I ask with the intention of exploring myself more deeply. I believe we are all unique. Every single one of us is one of a kind. We have different thoughts, different emotions, different points of views, that separate us from everyone else. Though we often share a similar perspectives, the specific combination of our qualities is what makes us who we are.
I believe being authentic means embracing your uniqueness; Something I struggled with for most of my life. Growing up, it's not easy feeling different from everyone else. To feel like you don't quite fit into your social group. To feel like something is setting you apart from everyone else. In my humble opinion, as are all my blog entries, there are two ways of coping with this feeling of separation: We can either try hard to fit in and suppress what seems to set us apart, or we can embrace that difference and turn it into something to be marveled at. As a kid, I moved away from my home country, away from friends I grew up with, away from my extended family, and taken somewhere new. Somewhere I knew no one, somewhere I didn't know the language, and in a climate that was so much different than what I was used to. I felt I was sticking out like such a sore thumb, that the last thing I wanted to do was draw any more attention to my awkward child self. I wanted to hide behind the crowd and blend into the background. Not because I was a shy kid, but because I felt so different, I didn't know how to hold space for myself. When, in reality, I was quite the opposite by nature. I was the loud kid. I was the kid that wanted to stand on classroom desks and yell my thoughts out loud for all to hear. Alas, I didn't do that. There were too many things standing in my way of that inner freedom. Self-esteem being number one. Being confident in whom we are is surprisingly challenging. Who would have thought that being ourselves, exactly as we were born to be, would be one of our biggest obstacles in our lifetime? For so many of us, being who we are is a two-fold challenge. Firstly, we must discover what that means. Who are we, really? How do we know that we know who we are (read that question again)? How confident are you that you know yourself? Hypothetically speaking, if an alien were to come down to Earth and land right in front of you and ask you who you are, the first few things we'd say would likely be: "I'm human, first and foremost" (actually, let's not kid ourselves, the first thing we'd say would probably be a chain of colorful curse words, but I digress) I'm human. That's an easy one to know for sure (unless you have doubts about that, in which case, I'd definitely like to meet you). The next few things would be something like: "My name is: ______. I'm from: _______. I'm a son/daughter/brother/sister/mother/father. Next, you would say I'm a teacher/doctor/construction worker/accountant/cashier, or in my case, a healer by nature, but am a bit of everything that made me who I am today. But to this alien, all these things mean nothing. You're (hopefully) human, yes, but you're also a soul. You're an extension of the Universe from which you were created. You are billions of particles that have arranged and rearranged themselves a million times over, gathering information from everywhere and every being they have ever rearranged as to become the you who is now reading these words. You are more than the sum of your parts.
So, once you've established and understood that you are more than the sum of your parts, not an easy task to do for the record, part two of the two-fold challenge would be to let everyone see you. Sure, it takes confidence, but we can be confident and show the world a side of ourselves we know nothing about. Some people walk down the street with their heads held high, feeling like they can take on the world, but they have no idea what lies within themselves, just beneath the surface.
To me, both factors are equally important if you are to truly step into the realm of authenticity; know who you are and be it, loud and proud.
Photo credit: Inside Higher Ed