I am often found pondering the notion of authenticity. Everyone seems to crave it, talk about it and own it but very few people truly live their life with it front and centre.
I subscribe to authenticity in all things. It is my watch word, my number one value and above all else my END GAME.
I believe it is at the heart of all personal development and growth. To be authentic is to be real; to be true; to be YOU. This is why I call it the end game, because most of us spend a lifetime trying to find the courage to let go of fake and our public masks, alongside hiding our true emotions so we will be liked and not upset anyone.
So why is authenticity so hard to sustain?
• Being true to you means you sometimes have to upset others by saying no or disagreeing or opting to go your own way.
• Being true to you means accepting you are not perfect; learning to fail with flair and making mistakes by the bucket load.
• Being true to you means owning your weaknesses and flaws.
• Being true to you means, sometimes embracing your vulnerability and being OK with that. Yikes! Really??
Phew, no wonder this stuff is tough!
I was reminded how tough recently when I was working with a group of disengaged, disruptive, under-achieving, vulnerable and very tough teenage girls at an inner city school.
After 9 weeks of rapport building, nurturing and absolute support their behaviour towards me on one day was particularly venomous. I gave them every benefit of the doubt, changed my approach, language, tonality, body language and material but to no avail. At this point I felt the only thing left in my kitbag was to put my vulnerability on the table. I explained gently and without judgement, how upset and hurt I felt by their behaviour and that the only reason I put up with it was because I genuinely cared about them and wanted to see them shine and create a life of possibility. I then put my hands up and admitted I was at a loss as to what to do next and sat in silence.
This created a serious pattern break in the room. The girls sat in shocked silence for a few moments then we all reconnected on a deeper level – we had tears, apologies and hugs and then the group dynamic changed and we moved on.
This was not easy for me to do. I had to hold onto my courage and share my vulnerability at an emotional level. It felt risky and liberating all at the same time.
This is the reality of being authentic. The outcome is unknown, but what I know for sure is you can only be you, refusal to claim your authenticity for fear of being rejected, or failing, or being alone or any other fear is a fake life and one not worthy of you.
In the words of Brene Brown – my ultimate guru on vulnerability
‘Let go of who you think you are supposed to be and embrace who you are. When we numb the dark, we also numb the light. You cannot be selective on which emotions you share, share them all and connect whole heartedly.’