While authenticity is certainly a buzz word that gets thrown around, it is a wonderful descriptor for the sense of self that comes from 'doing the work'- the exploration of The Ego, the never ending demand for self compassion, the quiet reflection and meditation.
To be truely authentic requires us to be flexible- flexible in our thinking, flexible in our sense of self.
The 'work' never ends, it is a constant journey of discovery.
Always unearthing something new for us to work on and integrate into ourselves.
This is the 'changing face of authenticity'- what feels right for me now may not in a few years time.
Most of this seems self explanatory. Do we really need to spend valuable time reflecting what it means to be authentic?
I would suggest that we do. Like many things in life, mistakes and/or consequences seems to flourish within a state of inattention. When we bring light and awareness to the many default states within which we exist we bring the opportunity to change. We bring the opportunity for growth.
Reflecting on my own journey, it's so nice to finally feel like I'm living in alignment with myself and my values more than at any other time in my life. The joyful contentment that right now comes from being able to make a life decision by simply "checking in" with myself and how an opportunity makes me feel rather than the constant pros/cons lists, fear of making the wrong choice and subsequent regret when I inevitably felt I had (FOMO), is something I cherish more than anything.
This sense of authenticity comes not as a destination but rather an ever evolving process of self reflection, of curiosity and of self compassion.
It comes from being able to change things we desire to change about ourselves not because of guilt or self flagellation, but rather from a striving towards personal growth.
Authenticity comes when we are able to embrace the many faces of ourselves with compassion.
It comes when we are able to extend that compassion to the perceived failings of others too.
Authenticity comes when we are able to relish the opportunity to exist at our 'growth edges', accepting the mild discomfort of change for the unbounded opportunities of the expanse in front of us.
Authenticity comes from learning to exist in our 'personal ecosystem', symbiotically bringing together mind, body and soul in a balanced union of self.
It is within this 'personal ecosystem' that we find the True Self.
Almost as an explorer venturing into the untamed jungle, not sure what we will find- the exploration of self that comes from this journey to authenticity often uncovers surprises.
Be it past trauma that we've never fully processed, personality traits that we wish were different or even just an awareness that there is a lot of 'work' for us to do- this exploration of self demands self compassion as we navigate this path. There are many things that need to be FELT rather than FIXED on this path and for some (myself included) that means that professional help is an important part of this journey. There is nothing more comforting than having someone walk beside you through the bumpy bits in the road.
In the last 2 years I have burnt out, rebuilt and come back totally invigorated and ready to carve out a new path for myself. To call the whole process a 'blessing' would certainly downplay the pain of it all, however the lessons I've learnt I feel are invaluable. The doors that are opening in front of me are ones that I simply didn't have the cognitive space within me to contemplate in the past.
This is the thing about 'survival mode'- we can certainly exist within it (albeit not indefinitely) yet we are often unable to THRIVE within it. Rather, as we move towards the True Self- one within whom we know how to build and honour compassionate boundaries, how to retain authenticity in the face of flattery of The Ego and how to practice truely holistic self care- we find that thriving is as much about the opportunities we turn down as it is about the ones we take on. That innate self awareness that comes from having an intimate working knowledge of your own personal ecosystem at any given moment means that you are more quickly able to discern and act on opportunities that come before you.
Right now, I'm relishing having the opportunity to explore my own sense of self and what authenticity means to me through this online scrapbook of sorts that makes up my blog. A virtual 'dear diary' that may mean something to someone else... or may not. Personally, I find that the longer I go between meditating, the more I notice my sense of self slipping. My emotional agility slows and my ability to respond to triggers in a way that mirrors my True Self (that all important authenticity) lags.
So while authenticity, meditation and mindfulness all seem like buzz words from an HR managers toolbox, they are in fact delicately interconnected. As you master one, you tend to more easily begin to master the others.
As life gets busy and we start to let one slip the rest swiftly follow.
Emily is an always learning, forever dreaming, list making mind mapper who loves cheese.