About Authenticity

Writer’s Island prompts #12 and #13 “Change For the Better”

Was a bit disappointed when I went to see what the prompt might be for today. My last blog was about all the changes I have had to deal with, and have made, over the past year. I could have used it, but I really wanted a fresh challenge. As I was about to leave the site however, I noticed this quote:

be nobody but yourself in a world which is doing it’s best, to make you everbody else…    __ee cummings

Now that I can dig my teeth into, it is the story of my life. “If you’d just change this or that, you’d be more… lovable, likable, attractive, friendly, popular, pleasant, companionable, easy to get along with, acceptable, easy to work with, spiritual, skilled, graceful, content, enjoyable, light-hearted, approachable, genuine, authentic, organized, committed, rounded, satisfied, as well as satisfying,” and on and on ad finitum. What is really being said here, is never really spoken aloud. What is actually meant is that “if you would change this or that, you would be far more like me and then I could be a lot more comfortable than I am.”

In keeping with the prompt, I think the best thing I could do in order to make me a better person is to stop listening to all those things other people would prefer me to be, and just get on with being me, whoever that might be at any given moment. That is the easiest solution, but also the most difficult one to maintain.

I have written here, about how and why I have felt that I didn’t ever quite fit in for the majority of my life. The circumstances that created that reality were completely out of my control, and yet the result has kept me doing a balancing act that includes tap dancing on a high wire. Try it, it ain’t easy, or even doable in most moments. Yet, I have tried to dance the undoable far more than anything else in my life. Why?

Because I have also longed to feel at ease within my own skin. To be relaxed and comfortable in any given moment. To belong. A few years back, I began to hear a phrase that, at first, seemed to make a great deal of sense, but then began to niggle in that deep dark reservoir at the back of my mind and wouldn’t be quieted or stilled. The phrase went something like this, “Learn how to be your authentic self.”

The phrase was often followed by a pitch, of one sort or another, that meant one could pay a certain amount of money and learn “authenticity” of being. In other words, one could pay someone else to teach one how to tap dance on a high wire they had created for just such a purpose. Been there, been doing that for years. How could anyone possibly teach me how to be authentically who I am? How the hell would they know such a thing unless they also were extremely familiar with and ready to tell me, “If you would just change this or that, you would be so much more…” (read second paragraph). One could be paying for the rest of ones life and still never find whatever authenticity is to be found.

And now, of course, she pulls out the Dictionary. According to that said reference, authentic means original, the genuine article, verifiable as such, meaning origin is provable. So, a birth certificate would suffice, right? Well, yes, if all I wanted to do was prove that at some moment in the past, I came into being as a living, breathing human being. It doesn’t tell me who I am now, in this present moment, in the only place that genuinely matters, inside me and my skin. Besides, I already know that because I am here, typing these words, breathing and living through this moment in time.

Long story, made much shorter. All that disquiet and lack of stillness brought me right back to one thing. I still wanted to belong, to fit in, and only I could know that at any given moment. I would feel it, right here inside my own skin. Funny thing is though, the more I felt it, that relaxed comfortable ease, the more people around me seemed to need to tell me how to be better at what I was already doing.

In that very convoluted manner, I came to know what was really being said when I would hear that old familiar refrain, “If you would just change…” Amazingly enough, that really helped that ease for which I had been seeking all of those years. It put the choices right back where they belonged all along, in my hands. I will listen to most suggestions, weigh them seriously if I feel they have some validity, but then I will choose to change in whatever fashion I think and perceive is best for me and the person I am still becoming. The one that I know and feel is me.

So, how do I justify doing what I am doing on this blog? Asking you to change, to find your authentic self by keeping a journal, and writing in it every day. I don’t. There is nothing to justify. What I write about is always whatever I choose. You have the same choice. You don’t have to read it and no one is paying me to do it. That’s one of the basic reasons I do it at all. Because it allows each of us the freedom to choose. I will continue to be who I am, doing what I love to do, and by doing that, being exactly who and what I am. And leave you to make your own choices. Leaving you to be exactly who you are, and being your authentic self in the bargain.

And by the way, I love ee cummings, he is always authentic, and well worth the read.

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About 1sojournal

Loves words and language. Dances on paper to her own inner music. Loves to share and keeps several blogs to facilitate that. They can be found here: https://1sojournal.wordpress.com/ http://soulsmusic.wordpress.com/ http://claudetteellinger.wordpress.com/
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6 Responses to About Authenticity

  1. rebecca says:

    very well written and very well said. we each have our own paths to walk and explore. at the end of the day, we are born and die alone and alone is where we must find that which speaks to our soul. no one else can do that for us.

    Rebecca,
    thanks for stopping in, and for your positive input. And I couldn’t agree with you more. No one can be me, and I could be no one else but me. Thank goodness for that.

    Elizabeth

    Like

  2. diddums says:

    I like that quotation, it’s heartening… but as you say, it’s hard to maintain. Just blogging, I find myself wondering if what I have to say is interesting, pleasant, acceptable and so on… too often I feel that it’s not. Sometimes I think “well, I’ll just go on writing what pleases me,” and then the next minute I’m questioning it again. Going round in circles, like Winnie the Pooh when he was looking for the North Pole. 🙂

    Diddums,
    Writing is like most things we do. We wouldn’t do it unless we were interested in it. Putting a label on it, cripples not only the writing, but the will and desire to do it. I think that is what the quote is really getting at. We do what we do because we have the desire and the rest is out of our hands on most levels. If we spend too much time worrying about what others think, we will soon not want to write at all. We will be someone other than who we really are. We will become, as the quote says, “everybody else.”

    I happen to like your blog. Like the way you take the simple things and tell a story with all kinds of rich details and funny asides. I imagine the two of us having coffee and I can hear you speaking about all of it. To me, that’s good writing and I, for one, appreciate what you do and how you do it.

    Elizabeth

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  3. thanks for sharing this, love the quote but also had a good time reading your lines.
    gave me some food for thought as well.

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  4. That quote literally brought tears to my eyes. It might be because I am awfully melodramatic and sentimental at the present moment, but I believe that this post hit the nail on the head for where I am in life right now. All the “if only”‘s that live inside are foolish for we wish to have something that the people who possess it wish were something else…silly, right?

    I think the issue with the “authentic self” and finding it is that life teaches us how to lose it at a very young age, to shy away from ourselves and run toward standards and expectations.

    Thanks for writing this, Elizabeth. It really touched me.

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  5. 1sojournal says:

    Ah Farah, you warm my heart with your words. You are so right about what life teaches us at such a young age that we spend the rest of it trying to unravel the ‘truth’, and it’s right there in front of us each time we step in front of the mirror.

    Thank you for stopping by and I have a surprise to tell you about. I simply can’t be authentic without writing poetry so, the day before yesterday, I took the plunge. You really didn’t think I would let you have all the fun, did you? Come see, and leave me a few words so I’ll know you have been,
    http://soulsmusic.wordpress.com/

    hugs to you,

    Elizabeth

    Like

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