authenticity has become such a buzzword. often the term implies goodness, exemplifying the bright sides of our relationships/values/jobs/selves/etc. and yet, shouldn’t it describe who we really are? i mean, we are human. we can be narcissistic, selfish, hurtful just as we can be compassionate, selfless, and kind. it seems the key to authenticity then, is honesty, and embracing our whole selves. owning the crappy in addition to the wonderful. additionally, getting to the core of who we were, when our lives were first beginning and our selves were first forming, seems constructive. in my mind, these are more effective ways to explore the concept of authenticity beyond the trendiness of it all.
i was recently asked a couple of questions about my childhood, in an exercise to explore my authentic, original self. one of the questions was “what was your favorite way to feel as a child?” as it was explained to me, childhood memories can provide a glimpse into our authentic selves. a time before the world hasn’t had decades of opportunities to tarnish our self-image. this is not to say that we all have wonderful, loving childhoods. evoking my favorite childhood feelings, for me, was more about how i felt about my place in the world before my adult self developed. to think about what i perceived as “real”, given what i knew then. my biggest realization about myself, i discovered, was my unbridled optimism i had, about my daily life as well as my future. in my early childhood, i didn’t allow myself to be restricted by the “shoulds” that sometimes permeate my adult thinking: i should have done X by now, i should be more fit, i should be more successful in my career, i should be better about my finances, i should volunteer more, i should be happier. instead, my childhood thinking was more about the possibilities that my life held, focusing on the “wills”: i will do X, i will run marathons, i will be successful in my career, i will be financially stable, i will save the world, i will be happy. of course i will.
viewing my authentic, original self through the lens of my childhood, i realized that i have the capability to incorporate those feelings more into who i am today. the woman who has had the pleasure and pain of life’s treasures and tragedies, the woman who hasn’t always made the best decisions, the woman who is working hard to be the best version of herself, the woman who was once that little girl, convinced that her world was full of possibilities.
my adult self has evolved in a way that only the familiarity of age and grace of experience can provide. and at the center is that optimistic little girl. this is my authentic self. it’s who i am.