Initially, I wanted to write about authenticity. It has been on my heart, lately. Maybe, it is coming from a place of experience after encountering such incredible portraits of authenticity in a group of 30 some people back in India. Probably. Such beautiful souls.
With social media being such an influential part of our every day lives, it is easy to let those platforms infiltrate our minds on a level that is probably too deep. I know, myself, that the content I look at, whether I really want it to or not, affects me somehow, someway.
The thing about it is, how much of this content is even real or authentic? How much of it is true and how much of it is a fallacy to promote a brand, or hide an insecurity, maybe hide a pain.
“Authenticity” has “become marketing’s most popular buzzword“, a blurb that I recently read in 5WPR. It has become an avenue for consumerism. Don’t get me wrong. I would rather have a company be transparent with me than promote false advertising, but this term authenticity is just thrown around in a way that it got me evaluating my own authentic self.
According to my own personal Google Guru, this is what authenticity looks like:
Authentic is defined as: “not false or copied; genuine; real.”; “representing one’s true nature or beliefs; true to oneself or to the person identified.”
So, in reality, authenticity shouldn’t be hard. It literally is just being yourself. Now, is the tougher question. How is me being myself, my content, my words, my actions…how are those things affecting others…and do I care?
I hear this term, “be un-apologetically you”. To a point, I agree with this. Get down with your bad self. Let your freak flag fly. Be independent. Be strong. Be introverted, extroverted, loud, soft-spoken, be all the things! But then, there is an aspect of this statement that I don’t agree with. Being unapologetically you has, in some ways, given a free pass to being, for lack of a better word: mean.
In the yoga teacher training course that I just went through, we talked a lot about the yamas or the the moral, ethical and societal guidelines for the practicing yogi. These are as follows:
- Ahimsa: nonviolence
- Satya: truthfulness
- Asteya: non-stealing
- Brahmacharya: non-excess (often interpreted as celibacy)
- Aparigraha: non-possessiveness, non-greed
I am not going to delve into all five right now, but I am going to bring up Ahimsa and Satya. Our yoga philosophy teacher brought up the point that nonviolence goes beyond physical harm. You can be the most physically soft person in the world, not harming a single ant, but if your words and actions are harsh, you find yourself expressing violence.
In last Sunday’s sermon, my pastor said something that really hit me. He said the statement, “over and over we murder people in our hearts?” Yikes. That statement sounds so harsh, but pulling away the layers of pride and ego that I so often layer on in uncomfortable self examination positions, I see the truth in this. Chastising someone for what they do compared to what I do, ridiculing someone, “oooo I HATE them”…It’s heart violence. We were discussing retribution, specifically. So often, we choose revenge, we are told to harbor hate, we are told to never forgive, and yet, even when the Samaritans opposed Jesus, rather than listening to the disciples suggestions to basically destroy them, He moved on. It was a picture of Jesus wanting to change our mindset on those who hurt us.
This brings me to Satya: truthfulness. The second point that our Philosophy teacher raised was something like this. If our truth is harming someone (aka our words are violent toward someone), is it worth saying? Is it really truth? Hm. I term this idea: unnecessary truth. You and I both know this personally or have heard this. The truth that you say to someone because, well, “I am just being real.” How much of the truth that I am saying, that you are saying falls into that category of violence? How can we be real, while still preserving a person’s heart, their dignity, their self-esteem? Lastly, how much of what we are saying is even worth saying?? Gossip, rumors, bickering, rude comments, cyber bullying…we need to take a step back, I think. Heck, I need to take a step back and evaluate my kindness meter at least once a day.
I bring these things up not to say that what I write here is 100% or that you have to agree with everything I believe or think, but I do hope that what I bring up gets us all thinking.
SOOOOOO, authenticity. Bear with me. I swear that this somehow is all related. How can we be authentically ourselves if we are constantly withholding these “truths” that we believe need to be spoken…even when they aren’t really that thoughtful or kind… Well, it seems to me that authenticity goes hand in hand with self-discovery. This is really cool, too, because we were all created uniquely! Each individual grows up developing a different personality, disposition, passion, purpose, etc. If you are reading this thinking, ‘psh, not me. I have nothing special to offer’…you’re wrong…so just get that out of your brain, now. When learning more about our authentic selves, there is a simple addition to this process.
Ok, ok, I KNOW I TALK ABOUT LOVE ALL THE TIME. But, for crying out loud, if we would just take the time to express love, center our hearts around love, treat EVERYONE with love no matter our beliefs, differences, religions, political views, hair color, exercise routine, diet preferences, family background, and booty shape…our authentic selves would follow suit. Our words would be more thoughtful. Our truths would be kinder. When I am expressing love in my life, I personally like my authentic self more.
Maybe this makes a lot of sense…maybe it doesn’t because my brain works in patterns that I don’t think always translates so well on paper…or in words…but, alas. Here, I try. So, thank you for taking the time to read what I have to say. I know you don’t have to, but I love getting these ideas out, and I love hearing what you think about it all. We may not always have the same outlooks, but that’s the great thing about life, isn’t it? Learning about each other broadens our ability to learn about ourselves, and learning about ourselves allows for clearer authenticity.
I leave you with this.
1st Corinthians 13:1-13
1 If I speak in the tongues of men or of angels, but do not have love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. 2 If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. 3 If I give all I possess to the poor and give over my body to hardship that I may boast, but do not have love, I gain nothing.
4 Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. 5 It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. 6 Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. 7 It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.
8 Love never fails. But where there are prophecies, they will cease; where there are tongues, they will be stilled; where there is knowledge, it will pass away. 9 For we know in part and we prophesy in part, 10 but when completeness comes, what is in part disappears. 11 When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I put the ways of childhood behind me. 12 For now we see only a reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known. 13 And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.