"Authenticity is the daily practice of letting go of who we think we are supposed to be and embracing who we actually are."
- brene brown
featured image by sergi viladesau via unsplash.
chances are you've seen the word "authenticity" start to become this vibrant, glowing word of inspiration and wherever it appears or whenever you hear it, it feels like this pulsating holy grail just out of your reach. much more, it seems like most of the people who are their "authentic selves" sold all their belongs, hopped in a van, suddenly have a sweet camera and wait, do they have a sponsorship?
this is not the authenticity I'm seeking nor is it the authenticity that brene brown has done years of research on either. she is truly the person that, through her ted talks (here and here) and books, inspired me to start to really grapple with a lot of pain and shame I had been carrying with myself about who I am.
I was reminded of her work when reading an article, 4 questions to foster your authentic self on mindful.org, and I started to reflect on my journey with authenticity.
for me, this journey meant finally letting myself feel emotions (yup, I had decided I just wouldn't feel those anymore), it meant recovering from my eating disorder which remains one of the most painful but worthwhile experiences of my life, it meant no longer letting people take advantage of my empathetic nature even though I thought my only purpose in life was the help other people, and so much more.
coming from that space and journey, and especially as a yoga teacher of over four years, I've seen the word "authenticity" being used in a weird narrative. I have seen it used to indicate that you can be proud about yourself, that you have miraculously been freed of your flaws, that you used to struggle but now you have arrived at peace.
and hey, maybe that's true, maybe you have already arrived at inner peace and your third eye will shine until the end of your life.
but, I think for most people, it translates into that same bitter feeling when you share something you are struggling with and they say "everything happens for a reason" or "well at least you have xyz" instead of acknowledging your suffering.
it's prescriptive and deprives the phrase of its empathy.
when at the heart of it, the journey to live more authentically is a quivering struggle.
embracing your authentic self is transformative. but if you are acquainted with true transformation, you know it sucks. it feels like your world is being shattered and torn apart (think about the tower card from the tarot) but in most cases, to live authentically, you are actively choosing the harder path, to tear down this fortress you've been living in brick by brick so you can finally see the light. and when you see the light it hurts and is blinding, but by god it is beautiful and you can't help but cry.
I want to acknowledge that authenticity is not all sunshine and rainbows, but it sometimes it means feeling your heart want to escape your chest when you're telling your partner how you really feel about having to do the dishes all the time.
it is thinking you would rather die than suffer the consequences that could come from expressing your thoughts, your opinions, and above all, really being yourself.
it feels like emptiness and confusion as you try to figure out who you truly are after just being whoever everybody else wanted you to be for the last 20 years of your life.
this is because anything transformative is not easy, because you often have to shed parts of yourself, let pieces of yourself be digested or torn away, but to reveal your true form--which at first may feel alien and novel.
but, it brings you to a higher evolution and higher form of yourself.
so, /endrant, but to help you wherever you are in that process, as soon as I saw the "4 questions" bit of that article I linked to earlier you can bet I started cooking up a tarot spread to help you begin this journey on to your highest (or maybe just a step higher) in your evolution.
let me know what you think and also let me know your thoughts on the struggle to be authentic.