The Way We Live: 22 August 2010 BEING AUTHENTIC
Not so long ago I was asked a rather interesting question. The delightful Erica Bartle, creator of the wildly popular Girl With A Satchel blog , was in the midst of penning a piece on authenticity. Wanting to include a few quotes, Erica emailed me and a few others one morning to gauge our opinions. What does it mean to be authentic?, she asked us.
Naturally I agreed to give Erica my opinion. Just as soon as I worked out exactly what that opinion was. And ate a piece of cake (hey, I’m pregnant. Cake helps me think.)
One entire chocolate mud cake and three days later, I still didn’t have an answer. Is being authentic about being comfortable in your own skin? And if so, does that mean that women who do botox and acrylic nails and hair extensions and who lipo their thighs are disqualified? Or does appearance have nothing to do with it? Is authenticity about being consistent with your opinions and values? Men and women about whom you can say, “What you see is what you get”? But if we’re all “works in progress”, aren’t we allowed to change and grow as we go through life?
I never really had a definitive answer for Erica other than authenticity is about being yourself. Your real self. The self that likes to listen to REO Speedwagon in the car. And finds taking the kids to the park really, really boring or conversely dreams of being a stay at home mum or dad. The self that occasionally cheats when doing the crossword and reads Mills and Boon and isn’t afraid to reveal that sometimes life sucks. Big time. That last bit can be very hard for some people. We live in a society that celebrates winners and success. Being brave enough to tell the truth (I’m on anti-depressants/I’m not enjoying motherhood/ I’m in more debt than the entire African continent/I own a Justin Beiber CD) can sometimes make others uneasy. Plus we live in a time when cynical is the new black. Everything gets mocked.
But when you’re brave enough to tell the truth, to be authentic in your tastes and passions and to reveal your struggles, what you’re really doing is opening yourself up to deeper connections with other people. The personal is so often universal. And, lets face it, perfection can be alienating. There’s nothing more intimidating than someone who seems to have every inch of their life under control. At least that’s what they’d have you think. Those types – putting all their energy into keeping up the façade — are not always the people we feel like we can open up to and share our own concerns with. I mean who would you rather have move in next door – Angelina Jolie or Julie Goodwin?
I’d take Julie every time – after all, at least I know she’d have a corker of a mud cake recipe.
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Over the past 25 years Rebecca Sparrow has earned a living as a travel writer, a television publicist, a marketing executive, a magazine editor, a TV scriptwriter, a radio producer, a newspaper columnist and as an author.