I spend way too much time looking at all the picture perfect posts on Instagram and Facebook. I think we all do. It looks so appealing to have that other person’s life. But . . . do we see authenticity in all those faces? One of my favorite celebrities to follow is The Rock because . . . well, really, does that need an explanation? He’s THE ROCK. But for me, yes . . . okay . . . I guess I need to explain that he is not appealing to me because I find him the least bit attractive. I mean, sure, I know women swoon at the sight of him, but, seriously, he’s not really my type. Okay, women, you can gasp at that, but, cross my heart, I am telling the truth. So why am I so interested in him? Well, if the rumors are true, he is a truly authentic person. He is appealing to me because of WHO he is. He seems like a genuine, honest, hardworking, kind, good man. That is attractive. That is worth following.
I read one of his posts about connecting with a little girl and watching the joy light up her eyes, and I thought, Wow. That’s what humanity is supposed to look like. We see so much busyness, so much so that it becomes mundane, but how much authenticity do we see on a daily basis? Among all the grumpy cat memes, hardcore workout pics, happy smiling faces of friend after friend . . . how much is honest? How much is real? How many artificial connections are we making? How many assumptions are we making that our friends are actually happy? If you really showed people who you are, what would happen?
For me, I genuinely hope that The Rock is authentic in his portrayal because people like him, those are my people. I am on this insatiable quest for authenticity and it has driven me to evaluate who I am and how I connect with the world. I have come to believe that authenticity and vulnerability walk side by side. They have helped me forge unbreakable friendships and test the waters of budding relationships. I also believe this pursuit of authenticity is one of the reasons I felt a deep need to create this blog.
I see a lot of mom blogs out there that deal with day-to-day decisions for mothers, choosing the best nutrition plan, discipline techniques, homework routines, safest cleaning products, best extracurricular activities, etc. Sometimes, I envy these women who seem to have it all together. They are so knowledgeable about the minute details of parenting life, and then, I remember, that we are all just here in this space coming into our own. I think all people should follow their path, be authentic, and choose to create what speaks to them. For me, though, that means hitting some of the hard topics . . . what makes us human, dealing with our past, the messiness of being your own woman while trying to make the “right” decisions for these pieces of our beating hearts, these beings who split open our souls and took a piece of us with them as they emerged into the world, these humans whose lives will ALWAYS be affected by our choices. As moms, we have to acknowledge that our wholeness is a priority because we have eyes watching us and little people emulating us. To prioritize our self-care, we need to live authentic lives. We have to be brutally honest and vulnerable with ourselves, learn to set boundaries, and open ourselves up to evaluation and change and growth.
I have to admit that I have screwed up in so many ways, AND I have also made some really fantastic choices. It is a toss up at this point. I cling to the adage, I did my best in the situation at the time because it is true. I am human. I am limited. I make choices on the information I have. As moms, as people, compassion begins when we have grace for ourselves. I have come to understand that I do not know everything. Five years ago, I didn’t understand how to see past my past. I didn’t understand how to live in my present. I didn’t understand what to do with my emotions and my angst. I am just coming into that understanding today. I have grace in this pursuit because it is a human journey.
We are all on the journey in different places, and it is not a straightforward path. We make u-turns and skirt the edges and drive straight through and take shortcuts and choose the scenic route.
However, I do know one thing. I want to teach my children to be authentic and accepting and loving.
I am going to share some wisdom that I cannot take credit for from people who have found jewels of truth through their own authentic experience.
Mike Robbins says “Be yourself. Everyone Else is Taken.” Authenticity isn’t about being rude and obnoxious. That is not the type of false authenticity that I am advocating. It’s about realness, not about expressing our opinions all of the time. You know when you meet those people who just seem so honest and humble? You just want to be around them ALL OF THE TIME. You find them refreshing and kind and beautiful. Their personalities just shine brighter than the rest. That’s what I’m talking about. People are drawn to such authenticity and raw vulnerability. Robbins’ uses a metaphor about an iceberg to bring us around to his point that we are deeper than we let others see. We only expose the parts of ourselves that are above the water, but lasting, healthy relationships, true connections, begin when we allow people to see what’s underneath, when we “lower the waterline.” That’s why people who are truly authentic and vulnerable often appeal to us.
“I believe that you have to walk through vulnerability to get to courage, therefore . . . embrace the suck. I try to be grateful every day and my motto right now is ‘Courage over comfort.’ ”
Vulnerability is scary at first, but it becomes easier as we practice it. We have to learn how to express our honesty with authenticity. We can’t be phony just because we are afraid to be vulnerable. Really, what is on the other side of that fear? Rejection? We have all been rejected, but how much are we missing out on because we decided that fear is stronger than possibility.
Authenticity is an “in the moment phenomenon.” It is a mindfulness practice in which we share ourselves in that moment. Authenticity brings understanding because a person sees our soul and understands that our honesty is coming from a humble place: “it liberates and touches and inspires the people around us” (Brene Brown).
I love the three C’s that Brene identifies in “whole-hearted” people: courage, compassion, and connection. According to her research, shame and fear are the opposition to connection. In order to truly connect, we must practice the three C’s in conjunction with vulnerability. They are not possible without vulnerability.
To sum up Brown’s Ted Talk: We must find courage to speak our story, to share our truth and believe in our own worthiness. We have to possess the “courage to be imperfect.” We must learn to treat ourselves with kindness because without that practice of forgiveness and compassion for ourselves, we will not be able to practice it with others. We have to make lasting connections through our authenticity, letting go of our expectations of who we should be and fully embracing who we actually are.
I will leave you with Brene’s words:
“We must let ourselves be seen,
We must love with our whole hearts.
We must practice gratitude and joy.
We must believe that we are enough.”