What does the word authentic mean?
Without overthinking it, these are some things that immediately come to my mind when I think about the word authentic; real, true, transparent, honest, and oozing integrity.
I looked it up to make sure I was on the right track. Click here to refresh yourself on the definition, if necessary. Lately, I'm seeing this word E V E R Y W H E R E. It's in magazine ads, it's on tv, it's in yoga promotional material, it's on Instagram, it's on Pinterest, it seems that everyone is on a mission to be real. Cool. But why are we trying so hard to convince everyone about our realness?
I was intrigued by this effort to be genuine. I don't think this is some new thing but, like I said, lately I'm seeing it with more regularity and it got me curious. Maybe this is old hat and I'm just noticing it with more frequency because there is some sort of personal message from the universe? Maybe I have something to learn? Maybe I am just inundated because of the yoga, gym, fitness industry? Maybe I'm thinking way too much about this? Maybe baby.
I think it's easier to be our true, authentic selves in person. There is less to hide behind. People can still be faker than fake in person but it's easier to spot if it's not on a screen. And obviously, there can still be walls and facades but not the same kind that exist with our internet personas.
In a world where we can tweak reality to make it look just right in our social media posts I started to wonder how anything or anyone can really be authentic? Has the word itself lost it's authenticity? I know that I think about pictures I post before I even take them. How do I achieve the perfect light, look, vibe that I'm going for? Maybe that's the perfectionist in me or maybe the only part of photography school that stuck with me? There are a million tricks, not to mention filters, that can make your posts ooze perfection, kind of like the social media version of rose colored glasses. What does your highlight reel look like? Never mind, I'll just check your social media. And please don't get me wrong, I do this too. I'm just investigating human behavior, myself included.
We are all in control of how the information we relay is edited but we have zero control over how our message is perceived. We can spend hours getting something exactly right, perfect in our eyes, but that doesn't mean others will view it the same way you do. We lose control by putting ourselves out there whether we are being authentic or not. People will establish a perception about us, accurate or not, based on what we put out. In my opinion, this is also more easily controlled in real life interactions.
Have I lost you yet?
I'm sure that every single one of you, at some point in your life, have been surprised when someone you thought you knew turned out to be something else all together. Am I right? This could be a family member, a dear friend, a teacher, anyone really. Life plays out and this person reveals there realness to you and you are surprised to learn that they aren't what you thought they were. It could be someone who you don't even know personally like a professional athlete, movie star, musician and by a chance encounter you realize that they are nothing like what you thought. This isn't always a bad thing, in the best case scenario they end up being way cooler than your mind had you believing. The worst case scenario is when you are completely blindsided and everything you thought you knew about this person is a facade. The worst case scenario is a hard pill to swallow. It can be a devastating realization especially if this person is someone that you felt a strong connection with. I believe that social media and our edited perceptions of people can set us up for some wakeup calls.
So, where am I going with all of this? At this point I'm wondering the same thing.
In a world full of highlight reels, of perceived perfection, of edited reality, of fake ass people, hold yourself accountable. Be better. Post your beautiful pics, edited or not, but allow some realness to shine through, too. Take it for what it is and don't judge yourself or your authenticity based on other people's post worthy material. I think edited reality makes the elusivity of acceptance even more obvious, for ourselves and for others. If we can't accept our own flaws, reality, authentic selves than how in the hell do we expect others to?!
In an effort to be authentic, I'm going to share some real talk with you, flaws included. The following are tidbits of the complicated human that I am but the kind of tidbits that I'm embarrassed to share or expose. Here you go, eat your heart out:
- I write most of my posts on my couch in my pjs.
- I would rather be alone than with people (introvert life). Alone time is my favorite time.
- My dog is my favorite living thing (my husband knows).
- I have cellulite.
- I love MTV's show Teen Mom.
- I can be bossy, short tempered, and I could hold a grudge until hell freezes (my husband also knows this).
- Years ago my family nicknamed my alter ego, Stephalina. She's a crazy bitch, she drinks too much and makes really bad decisions on the reg. Fortunately, I've retired her.
- I'm painfully shy and really uncomfortable in front of people.
- I cuss waaay too much.
I think that sometimes we get so caught up with how we think something should be, should look, should happen that we forget all about the moment itself. The raw realness of life plays out exactly how it should whether we attempt to alter it or not. There is something magical in our flaws and in our perceived imperfections that make us the beautiful, unique beings that we are.
Get out of your own way. Let your freak flag fly. Go out on a limb. Live a little, in REAL life. The world could use a little bit more of the things you think you should be hiding.