Authenticity! Wow! The word by itself sounds powerful! LOL! When something is authentic, it is considered to be “of undisputed origin” and “genuine”. When we say a story is authentic, it means that it “conforms to fact and is worthy of trust, reliance or belief”. Authenticity therefore is the condition of being authentic or genuine, a state of undisputed credibility. I am sure you can already see how being authentically you, can be powerful and beneficial! I have this dear dear friend of mine lets call her Amina, who complained to me one day, she said “I’m different, people always say I’m different, I don’t know what to do to fit in!” And from one person who has never ever fitted in to the other, I said “why do you want to fit in? I cannot imagine a worse compliment than ‘you are just like everyone, nothing different about you”, we both laughed but its true, if you’ve ever felt like you don’t fit in, Congratulations! We were not meant to fit in, you are meant to STAND OUT! You are a designer original! You are not a copy! If on a planet of 7 billion people, no one else has the same finger print as you do, why aren’t you convinced that you are unique and totally different? That there is only one you, means that the world loses something when you are not your best, when you live your life by someone else’s rules or live by trying to be someone else or envying another person for what they have/are/or how they look! The world loses out on what you are here to offer, when you are inauthentic!
Just not to down play the need to fit in because I know that this bothers a lot of people and takes work to finally accept that you are you, I’ll share a little story. I got into secondary school (high school) before I turned 9. At 9, I would ordinarily have been going into Primary 4 (i.e 4th grade) and so just by virtue of my age, I did not fit in with my class mates. I was also really small in stature and quite the smart Alec (I was obviously smart to be able to sit for the common entrance examinations from Primary 3 and get into secondary school- skipping 3 grades) but I was annoyingly so! Always being the first to answer questions, generally showing off what I knew. It also didn’t help that the teachers liked me because I was little and constantly used me as an example “very good Hajara,” to the class “see? She’s not even 9 and she knows the answer”, needless to say, I was not very liked! I also didn’t fit in because just by being so young in a class where everyone was already 12 or 13 and going through puberty and liking boys, there were some things I didn’t know about, couldn’t relate to or ways that my thinking was quite childish compared to theirs. Well, so it bothered me a lot sometimes, sometimes I wanted to just be like everyone else in class. One day I told my father about it and he said “leaders are like eagles. They do not flock, you find them one at a time” and maybe because I was young and impressionable, maybe because I believed all that my father said to me- that sealed it for me! I do not fit in or sit on the bandwagon because I am not the bandwagon type! I am the trail blazing, soaring with the wind type and I submit that if you are reading this and can relate in any way, it’s because you are as well! We all are! Created on purpose for a purpose! Here to run your own race, to contribute what only you can! That does not mean we will all not work together, can’t collaborate or live life with others, it just means- bring YOU to the table! Don’t cower and don’t reduce!
In practical terms, you say “how can I be authentic?” and I say, by being true to yourself and believe me, I know that someone is saying ‘I don’t even know what that means!’. For me being authentic started with me asking myself “who am I when no one is looking” and because I was asking myself, I could be brutally honest. I could say you don’t tell the truth sometimes, especially where you feel the truth will make someone else comfortable. I could say you procrastinate- its as if you have no power- just plans, plans, plans… I could say positive things like I am truly beautiful and it doesn’t matter who thinks or has said otherwise. It started with me taking stock of who I was at the time.
After taking stock, I now knew what I needed to work on. Now instead of lying to please you, I keep quiet (good hint for my friends, when you ask and I keep quiet or say what do you think is best? I am saying my truth [which is not always right by the way since my perspective to your issue is totally different from yours- you are the one who has to live with the issue], may not please you). So I keep quiet, except I think it’s something that must be said or I know you truly want to know.
On the procrastination bit, one of my major areas of procrastination was writing a book. I felt I had something to say, but not enough life, not enough time to write it. Guess what I did? This! I chunked it down. I said, I may not have the 3 or more months it may take to sit and write my book- but I have 30 minutes twice a week to write blog posts don’t I? When I’m done with 30 minutes twice a week for a year- don’t you think I’ll have enough material on my blog for a book? That’s me, taking my flaw and saying how can I manage me? And on and on like that.