13 January 2013

Authenticity

Authentic me, in a moment. No makeup,
hair brushed out while dry, no product, 
frizz flag flying high.
A lot is written about the importance of being authentic online, especially if you want to build a relationship with someone - your readers, new friends, clients, whomever. I think it's funny that we have to talk about being authentic online, as if it's different or less important from being authentic any other time in life. Granted, this conversation usually happens in relation to online advertising or marketing - and let's be honest, authenticity in advertising is more of a ploy than a practice - but still this has got me thinking.

I've been thinking a lot lately about motivation, and writing about it (more to come later). For example, I've started getting back to the good things in life - more exercise, less sugar (eventually no sugar), fewer calories per day. Why? It would be great if I could say "to be healthier" or "to feel better" - these may be side motivations, but the truth is I'm tired of my weight. I'm too fat. And I'm especially focused on this because my boyfriend is in great shape. There. I said it. I don't want to be the fatty with the hot boyfriend. So, I'm going to lose some weight. I'm embracing this motivation because it's honest, and I'm using it to my advantage. That's me at my most authentic.

And that's really the crux of this whole authenticity thing, for me anyway. Do people really mean it when they say it? Do people really want to know us, warts and all, or is all this fuss about a moderated authenticity, one that makes others more comfortable, makes other people feel better? I don't know, to be honest. I do know that authenticity, like other things, is easier with a bit of polish on it - after a good night's sleep, or landing a dream client, or booking an outrageous speaking gig - then authenticity is all about sharing good news.

What about when you have $20 in the bank and don't know where your next job is coming from? When you're fighting with your spouse and you doubt everything in your life? When you're frustrated with your kids and want to undo the parenting years for one taste of freedom? Is there room for that authenticity online, in a world where the words we create are committed to online archive, at the fingertips of every potential client, PTA-member and, gasp, your children, for their Googling pleasure? I think there is. Of course I do. I was born without a sensor and the one I've honed over the years is embryonic at best.

Scared authenticity, angry authenticity, depressed authenticity – these are the seeds of reaching out to others and opening up beyond our own rigid borders. In the end, it's really all about vulnerability – bare, bleeding, and scarred vulnerability. The cradle of our purpose lies within vulnerable authenticity. And I believe, in the deepest recess of my heart, that shared authenticity, even from the depths of the shit heap, will do more to heal and help not only the writer, but the reader, than the prepared, polished-good-news authenticity so many seem to share.

Last week I had $20 in the bank. My clothes fit too tight. I was scared, exhilarated, determined and depressed - all at the same time for hours on end. That was last week. The button on my jeans still strains against the stress of my belly today. Otherwise, things are looking up. And now, my kids are bitching at me to come play with them. Duly noted, it is their day. The rest of it, well one day at a time. In the present moment, life is good. Now I just need to avoid eating any cookies for the rest of the day.