Take a look at the photo at top-center in this blog post... I'm the kid in the yellow tank top, blue shorts, and the tube socks. Yes, AND the shaggy hair cut. *Side-note: I find it funny that my cousin Mark has his name on his shirt to remind himself of his name. I guess it was just indicative of the times to come...
In many ways I am still that little kid with the tube socks and shaggy hair, albeit, much older and note quite as skinny as I was back then and a little less hair. Appearances aside, much of the things I liked to do then, I still like to do now.
I am avid reader, I love to write and journal, I love to talk and meet new people, but yet I'm really an introvert, and I love being around a small group of people I love and trust. I love to run, this photo was taken around the time that Mark, my sister and I went on a five mile run with my dad and I was the only one who finished the run along with my dad...
I still like to just sit outside and think about life, and I still like to play with toy soldiers and create historical mock battles... But for those closest to me, know that there are times I struggle with trying to fit in or be someone I am not.
All this to say I am just me...
The Struggle With Authenticity...
We live in a very complex world. With complex ideas and complex people. What comes with all this complexity is the desire to match up, keep up, live up, and one up the people that we do life with. Sometimes I think we do this with conscious intentionality, but I believe most of the time we are unaware that we are playing to the crowd so to speak.
We unconsciously fall into the bondage of trying to be what everyone wants us to be or at least what we think everyone wants us to be.
In this digital age or more precisely the influence of social media in our everyday lives, we have built mini-imposter empires that make it quick and easy to be inauthentic, which doesn't allow us to be who we really are and who we really want to become.
The problem is most people are more perceptive than we think they are or give them credit for. Most people can see through our facade or false persona. And the greatest temptation with social media is to be someone you're not - an inauthentic you, but in reality people just want you to be you, so be you.
I heard this quote the other day and it struck me:
Be yourself. Authenticity trumps cool every time. – Craig Groeschel
Being authentic doesn't mean your goal is to be likable. It's being comfortable in your un-photoshopped self, whether people like you or not. Being one's self provides a sense of freedom and contentment.
I am not saying that you or I have arrived to exactly where we need be or that we are in any way shape or form perfect. We are all or all should be striving to be the best "me" we can be.
Being who you are is acknowledging that you are an imperfect creature journeying, learning, and growing your way through life all the while being the authentic you.
"There’s beauty in imperfection. When something becomes too polished, it loses its soul. Authenticity trumps professionalism! – Christine Caine
What God Desires For You...
Jesus came to make all things new (Revelation 21:5) and he came to provide us with a new life, where the old is passed away and the new has come (2 Corinthians 5:14-17). The thing of it is that this is a now and not yet process.
In God we are immediately seen as a new creation, but through the work of the Holy Spirit, we are in the process of being transformed into what God has desired and destined us to be.
Being authentic is realizing that we are growing and learning as we journey to become all that God intends for us to be, but at the same time being content with who God has made us to be and called us to be.
Four Ways That Help Me Cultivate Authenticity In My Life:
- Exercise self-awareness. Wrestle with who you are and with who you're becoming. Don't be afraid to question yourself. Ask yourself if your are the person you want to be and who God wants you too be? Are they one in the same? Ask what it is you don't like about yourself and what it is you do like about yourself? Then seek to work-on or build on those things.
- Have mentors and accountability partners. Surround yourself with wise and honest people. People that can speak into your life and help you stay on course. You want people that can be real and speak truth to you even when you don't want to hear it. They can tell you when your being an idiot and straying off course.
- Combat the urge to create an alter ego on social media. Be healthily and appropriately transparent, be honest, and be yourself. As I stated previously, being authentic doesn't mean your goal is to be likable. It's being comfortable in your un-photoshopped self, whether people like you or not. So be un-photoshopped and just be you.
- Don't be preoccupied with yourself. This is a hard one for me... Seek to know others as much or more than you want to be known. When interacting with others, be present and listen to them. Be more concerned with listening instead of talking. I list three questions I use to be a better listener in a previous blog post, which you can read here: How To Listen Well...
In the end lighten up and learn to laugh at yourself.