Connecting with Authenticity
Recently, I connected with an old friend of mine from High School. She and I were discussing who we’ve become over the years, what we are up to, and where we’re headed in our lives.
At first, we shared the quick highlights of our lives since we parted ways in late secondary school, and as the conversation (surprisingly) went on, we revealed some heavy truths about what’s been happening since the last time we saw each other.
It struck me as an unfamiliar feeling, but as I learned her truths and she did mine, it became increasingly more interesting to discuss our honest feelings and experiences with each other, than it did talking about “how successful we’d both become” and “how far along in our journeys we were.”
But, at one point of our conversation, she brought up the rising artificiality in the social world, and how tired she felt about keeping up a façade in the name of becoming more successful or educated. And, it got me thinking.
How many people, out here, are living in the same mental construct?
I know that I, personally, have been building this social image over the years as my only guaranteed way to make people like me more. To think I’ve said things, done things, and showcased parts of myself as a sole means of convincing people to believe I’m more successful or established than I am, which has ultimately lead me to mask my own truth for the mere possibility of gaining someone-out-there’s validation
But, you see, the minute I realized I let my guard down again, to someone I haven’t seen in years, but who once knew the raw and unfiltered version of myself, we opened the door to a new dimension of our conversation. By giving each other a real look into another person’s reality, we connected on a far deeper level; one that couldn’t have been revealed otherwise.
Imagine we kept sifting over the surface of our own lies and deceptions, whether about how we feel, what we’re going through, or where our life is currently at as a means of gaining someone else’s validation. A connection based on truth and authenticity would have never risen.
So, I guess that brings me to my point, today. If you’ve ever noticed yourself hide slivers of your truth, as a way of keeping up this social identity, then I hope you’ll be willing enough to reconsider this.
Who, on Earth, ever made you feel it was the status quo to morph yourself or repress parts of who you are in order to make friends or be successful?
I see it, more than ever now, in business, in social settings, on the media – people covering parts of their reality so they could appeal to total strangers, and gain a false sense of validation or worthiness according to someone else’s opinion. Who the fuck, ever, taught us that? Since when did it become the norm to highlight lies and build a profile showing only cracks of the truth?
Because, a couple days ago, I would construct an image (quite literally) to make you think I was doing great, that my life was in order, and that I had the world in the palm of my hands. But, today, somewhere between a harsh reality check and a glimpse into real connection with another human being, I’m prepared to let the whole world know that I’m not as successful or interesting as I make myself out to be, I’m not as well-kept as I want you to think, and that, shit, my shit do stank.
Isn’t that more relatable, anyways? Wouldn’t we spark a more meaningful interaction if you knew where I’m actually at, what’s really going on in my life, and what my authentic hopes and dreams are?
I know that if I knew you were struggling to make ends meet, that you were working very hard to stay disciplined with your goals and that you’re willing to let go of “trying to impress me” to tell me that you’re still trying to understand this reality, that we would have a lot more in common (and to talk about) than if you told me everything is perfect and that your life is fabulous + 1,300 likes on Instagram.
Maybe, if I told you the truth, you’d feel safer to be honest with me. And, if you felt safe to release the shame of not meeting your own expectations, maybe I would gain confidence in the authenticity of my own story. Either way, we would break the wall of our lies and highlight reals and enjoy the reality of our works in progress.
But, even when your life is great, when the highlight is your real, would you consider using your power to let go of the artificial motivation – the one that says you have an image to maintain?
What if, instead, you use that momentum to inspire more authenticity in the world? Share your journey; expose the difficulties you endured and the reality of your story. Reveal what it took to get to where you are now, and let people know that, on their own level, they can do the same.
Why would you use this opportunity to feed egos with false expectations? If you know what it takes to create a real highlight-real, let's be honest. Rather than striving on people’s insecurities to create more success or validity, empower others with the fact that you, too, walked through mud to make it in open waters.
But really, what would all this mean? Cause, cool, I could tell you that my business is thriving, my life is getting better, and all that… Or, I could also be one to say that I’m in a rough place right now, and I need to practice my discipline or whatever else… But, what would it actually entail?
From what I’ve learned, by the simple act of honesty, we beat the status quo and made a real connection in the process.
When I told my friend that I was struggling in a particular area of my life, three of the following things happened: 1. A huge weight was lifted off my shoulders. 2. She gave me the best piece of advice ever. Wisdom I wouldn’t have received if I hid that part of myself. But, most of all, 3. She became honest about herself, and her life, with me.
It sparked energy of genuine nature. A huge wall came tumbling down, a wall we might have all built trying to hide the difficult parts of reality. And, even if this doesn’t last long, and in a few minutes, I go back to pretending or maintaining my social image… at least, for a moment, you knew the truth about me.
I think we should all embody that authenticity a little more often. What do you think?