There’s lots of talk about authenticity in the personal development world. We talk about it an awful lot on America Out Loud too. Truth. Integrity. Authenticity. They’re buzz words for us – they’re right at the heart of all that we do.
Trouble is, so many people have been harping on about the power of authenticity that some people have begun to call it out. ‘Authenticity’ has become a cliché. Something to knock. Something to deride.
Oh, what a tangled web we weave! This is, perhaps, the greatest diversion, the cleverest trick, the most beautiful slight since the ‘mid-life crisis’.
See, those ridiculing are absolutely right up to a point. There should never be any need for someone to brand themselves as ‘authentic’. That should go without saying. It’s as ridiculous as someone saying: “I’ll be honest with you” or “I’ll tell you the truth”. What? Just for now? You mean you’re usually lying to me? Claiming to be ‘authentic’ is – or should be – redundant.
‘Authenticity’, however, is a different matter. There’s a big, fat line between claiming to be ‘authentic’ and recognising a basic need to tap into our personal authenticity when society tries to pour us all into boxes that often don’t fit who we truly are.
We’re conditioned to disconnect from our heart and gut and operate largely from the brain. Our creativity, our dreams, our imagination, our ability to visualise a future that lifts our spirits are too often squashed down under the weight of pressure to do well in maths, sciences, english and whatever else the modern curriculum demands in order to churn out Stepford people.
We’re conditioned to go out into the big, wide world and get a job. Get a car. Get a promotion. Get a spouse. Get 2.4 children. Work hard. Spend hours in that car to get to that job to pay for that house we don’t get to spend time in, where those 2.4 offspring get blessed with a few snatched hours of our time in the evenings, when we’re tired and stressed and divide our time between them and our smartphone.
Aah, the mid life crisis. The stuff sitcoms are made of. The stressed out, high-powered businessman hiding out on the golf course, splashing out on a sports car and having an affair with his secretary. The woman of a certain age getting forgetful, ditsy, burning the dinner or pulling a Shirley Valentine. We’re being conditioned to laugh at ourselves instead of spotting the signs. We’re being trained to look the other way and turn to ridicule when people are struggling to continue wearing the costumes society has created for them.
It’s not a ‘mid life crisis’. It’s a realisation. It’s not a breakdown. It’s a breakthrough. It’s not burning out. It’s burning away that which no longer serves us, so we might rebuild ourselves from the heart and soul outwards and create a life that fills us, that serves us, that gives us joy and allows us to feel alive.
It’s about authenticity. It’s not a cliché – it’s a basic, human need. And sometimes, in order to find that, we have to strip away all those layers of other people’s ideals and get back in touch with our own. So yes, ‘authentic’ might have become a cliché, but let’s hold onto the power of AUTHENTICITY.
Let’s not allow our basic human need to be in touch with, to reconnect to, to remember our soul-deep authenticity, to be thrown into a pile of clichés alongside the mid life crisis.
Authenticity is important. It’s powerful. And it’s available to us all whenever we’re ready to remember it.
Until next time, #UnleashYourAwesome