KINGDOM OF AUTHENTICITY
Across the room she shouted at me, “Kim, come sit in the princess tent with me!” Sitting on the couch with my two friends over near the television and by the front door we all quietly looked at each other with a smirk. The exclusivity of receiving an invitation into the princess tent is one that cannot be turned down. So I stood up, walked through the kitchen and got down onto my hands and knees in order to happily crawl into the magical kingdom. Sitting cross legged within the bright hues of pink, my largeness was magnificently amplified amongst everything miniature. Her smile and laughter exuded joy and genuineness something you don’t often see coming from adults. I love how children live within their imaginations unbridled from conformity and adaptation. As children we are the truest we are to ourselves - at what point throughout life do we lose our authenticity?
To be authentic is to be true to one’s own personality, spirit and character despite external pressures. Perhaps our level of authenticity is linked closely to the ability to adapt.
Authenticity and adaptability are not mutually exclusive as they have a link that can easily connect and influence the other. As humans we want to fit in and be liked. At the heart, humans want to be a vital member of the tribe and it’s a goal of ours not to be voted off the island. To be liked is heavily influenced from survival instincts and to be liked is a really nice feeling. It validates our decisions and it ensures us that we get to stay in the tribe. There’s nothing wrong with this – the idea of being liked. It’s rare to meet the outliers that claim that they don’t care to be liked by others. I find a sense of envy in a way for these people understanding that they perhaps live a life filled with freedom away from judgement. But if I want to be true to myself then I have to admit that I do like to be liked by others. So this is where I have to stop myself and acknowledge that this is OK as long as I like myself foremost.
I think that along the way throughout our lives we begin to acknowledge that it lies within our favor if people like us. This start as soon as children begin attending school and are faced with the pressures of having friends. We identify that having friends staves boredom and acceptance feels really validating. Later along our path it may become important to make our parents proud and soon following we want to be attractive to our romantic partner. All of this contributes to the manipulation within our authenticity. Along our path, if we can stay true to ourselves, our desires and our ideals then we can live a life free from judgement and ultimately a life of loving oneself.
Just think about a life being your most authentic version of yourself and still having people like you. Shouldn’t that be one of the first goals to living the most fulfilling life?
I’ve come to the conclusion recently that no matter what I do and how I chose to live my life there will always be someone to disagree and discourage my thoughts and my actions. I’ve also come to the conclusion at this stage in my life that I truly don’t care how people perceive my life. What I care most is how I feel about myself. I haven’t felt anything more freeing than this feeling lately. I don’t have a mortgage, I don’t desire children of my own and I am now comfortable with the fact that, for me, marriage is possibly a pipe dream. I’m happy with all this. I do encourage to keep all of these doors open for myself but what is it that I truly desire now, today and where I’m at in this moment? These are the thoughts that intrigue me the most and I’m thankful I’ve discovered this for myself.
I think as people, we tend to shy away from the idea of selfishness. We perceive selfishness as a vice. It definitely can be if used to a large extent. But for the most part we need to be selfish in order to be our best self. I’ve always related this idea to the flight attendant’s safety demo right before you take off on a flight. Demonstrating that it’s essential that in case of an emergency and oxygen levels drop you must securely fasten your mask on first before helping anyone around you. Isn’t this such a great lesson for life in general? Why do we wait until the captain tells us it’s ok to help ourselves first within our everyday life? Isn’t it actually really important for us to always ensure that our oxygen levels are at their best level everyday we’re alive?
We can only help others if we know how to help ourselves first.
So this brings me back to the importance of authenticity. When we are honest with ourselves I strongly believe that we will truly be happy with ourselves. This is content. I guarantee though that the pathway to this content is not happy. It’s not easy. We have to ask ourselves really blunt and honest questions. We have to know ourselves. We have to give ourselves the true answers. And finding these answers could take years to find. And once we find the answers we then have to find acceptance within those truths. One question I’ve found that I need to answer honestly for myself lately is why do I always want to move away? Is it because I desire adventure? Is it because I’m constantly hungry to learn different cultures? Is it because I’m bored with the city I live in now? Or am I bored with myself? If I can answer “Yes” to the first three questions then I would say to myself, “Alright, where are we off to next?” But if I answer “Yes” to the last question then I need to do a little bit more work on myself before I uproot everything I’ve worked for and find the truth deep within my soul.
Of course it’s hard to be human and to not judge. It’s in our biological makeup for some reason. I think most of us have been the one watching, admiring and judging others on social media platforms. We most likely at some point have measured our lives and possibly even our self worth against someone else using these channels. I do try to catch myself if I find myself becoming judgmental towards someone else. But at the time, I raise the question to myself in asking, “Is this really who they are or are they just putting on a mask to trick others into thinking that they’re a human idea of perfect? But I have to turn that question back onto myself as well and ask, “Why am I doing this, posting this, saying this?” How much of it is for myself and how much of it is a way to brand myself to others? There’s nothing wrong with creating an image for ourselves. Our ‘brand’ is also known as our identity and this is essential. It’s essential for us to know our identity which is essential while living within a society of people. As long as it’s genuine. It’s most interesting, and I speak for myself, to be around honest and authentic people.
To be true to yourself, what does that look like? If your opinion was the only opinion that mattered then who would you be truly?
I know these questions are difficult but I know that they are worth answering. Finding true authenticity unbridled from judgement I happily invite into my life. It is definitely a destination worth the journey. Authenticity is a self-made kingdom that I will happily crawl into.