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When you hear someone say “I’m being authentic,” what do you think? For the longest time, authenticity to me has been a buzzword. People say it because they want an excuse to be rude. “I’m just being authentic! True to myself!”
One of the Merriam-Webster definitions of “authentic” is “true to one’s own personality, spirit, or character; is sincere and authentic with no pretensions.”
Reading that, it makes sense some people use it as an excuse to treat others like dirt.
What is True Authenticity?
First of all, I think it’s uncommonly courageous to practice true authenticity.
Last year I wrote a piece on Medium about why it pays to be authentic with strangers.
We’ve all heard the stories of people being rude to someone on their commute and ending up in that person’s office for the interview they were rushing to. Karma, right?
We treat those above us—those with authority and power—with more respect than some Joe Schmoe we may run into on the subway.
What Authenticity Means to Me
This is the list I posted on Medium. Pay close attention to the two bullets I highlighted.
- Not lying to yourself.
- Treating yourself with respect.
- Building yourself up instead of tearing yourself down.
- Loving yourself.
- Loving others.
- Admitting our mistakes and failures to ourselves, and those we trust to support us.
- Not pretending to be someone we’re not.
- Not sacrificing your personality, spirit, or character based on who someone else thinks you should be.
- Remembering that even the most successful person once started as a beginner.
- Remembering that no one else knows you as well as you know yourself.
- Standing firm with your values despite what others might think.
What does all this mean? It means you’re your own best cheerleader. The only person you can control or change is yourself, so why give that power to others who want to shape you into who they think you should be?
Don’t pretend you like avocado toast if you hate avocados and don’t eat toast.
I think of authenticity as staying true to who I am in values, principles, and personality without using it as an excuse to treat people with disrespect.
What I Realized
A few weeks ago I was listening to episode 76 of the Do It Scared with Ruth Soukup podcast. It’s the inaugural “Get Ruthed” episode where she coaches one of her students live for her listeners.
Maybe I just needed to hear it from someone I respect and think of as a mentor (instead of me just telling myself)… But that episode finally made me realize what I’ve been hiding for too long.
My top Fear Archetype is “People Pleaser.” This was of a surprise when I took Ruth’s Fear Assessment, but the longer I thought about it the more it made sense. I don’t like rocking the boat. The thought of someone I respect disliking or disapproving of me because of something I believe feels like a punch in the gut.
So far on this blog I’ve tried to stay away from polarizing opinions on faith and politics, but I have strong opinions on both that drive a lot of what I do. Those opinions impact how I give advice and they color the lens of my worldview.
I know some of you will stop reading what I write, and that’s okay. I can’t please everyone, and I’m finally starting to accept that. Honestly, I won’t like how it feels at first, but if I treat it the same way I treat troll reviews and flames on Fanfiction, I think I’ll be okay.
My Faith is Important
I’m a Christian. People use it as a “catch-all” for a lot of church denominations, like Catholic, Protestant, Baptist, Presbyterian, Seventh Day Adventist, etcetera.
I grew up in the Lutheran Church and still attend one today.
My faith has come out in little ways over the past year, but more so in the past month or two. In the post about seasons of life, I quoted from Ecclesiastes. I’m mentioning God more often. Last Christmas, my mom gave me one of her study Bibles, and I’ve been reading it every day to finish the whole thing in a year.
And I have plans to read the entire Bible every year, from now on.
What’s more interesting to me is how much my faith has grown over the last year spending time every day in Scripture. I’ve become more patient. I’m less likely to get upset over stupid things. This is the root of my desire for true authenticity.
One great resource I found this year is The Bible Project. Based in Portland, they create videos “to help people experience the Bible as a unified story that leads to Jesus.” Their videos summarize the books of the Bible, talk about Biblical themes, word studies, and more. They also have a podcast where they have deeper discussions into the content of those videos.
My Political Opinion Reflects My Values
I’ve mentioned it in my first childfree post: I’m conservative. This is important because my values, beliefs, and moral compass all rest on my faith—which values the same things conservatism does.
Probably the only “liberal” belief I hold is that drug companies shouldn’t price-gouge their diabetic customers on the price of insulin, but that’s another story.
Anyway, here’s the short list of political things that I find important:
- Pro-life values
- 2nd Amendment Rights
- Respect for the entire Bill of Rights (there’s no such thing as hate speech, y’all)
- Small government
- Low taxes
- Freedom from tyranny
I do not discuss politics in the workplace. I don’t think it’s appropriate and it’s more likely to cause divisions and hostility than bring people together.
Please don’t assume that I don’t think opposite sides of the aisle can be friends. I have liberal friends. I don’t agree with their opinions, but that doesn’t make me think less of them. They’re people. They matter. We all matter.
I’m not turning Inspired Forward into a political or faith-based blog. But I will not shy away from bringing those opinions into the topics I write about, particularly when I write about lifestyle. Next week I’m publishing an in-depth article on my faith and political opinions, and my readers should start there before deciding if you want to stick around.
This post is the first of many for me choosing authenticity over people pleasing. It’d be crass to say I don’t care what you think, but it’s the truth. You can think what you want, and I can’t do anything about it… So I’m not punishing myself for that anymore by hiding my opinions.
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