A U T H E N T I C I T Y: Legitimate, valid, dependable, and truthful
I have been fascinated with this word since my freshman year at Azusa Pacific University. APU has its buzzwords; you know, those words that circulate in every conversation, between students and staff, leadership opportunities and coffee dates. Intentionality, community and authenticity: those were the buzzwords I was surrounded by. They stretched, challenged and helped me grow. When I entered into my freshman year, my mind was plagued all kinds of crazy ideas that college was the place where I got the chance to start all over and be someone entirely different than who I was before. And not because who I was before needed a personality make over but because deep down I was not content with who I was, stifled by insecurity, and didn’t quite learn how to embrace the skin I was in. “Authenticity” challenged that mindset and convinced me that college wasn’t about becoming someone different; it was finding your honest and true self that was already tucked into your very being.
I think we can honestly say that this generation is one who knows how to detect inauthenticity. We have a craving for everything that is raw and genuine, given to us without all of the artificial flavoring or unnecessary fluff, we want it real, truthful and of full exposure. The balance of this gets tricky however, because of this growing exposure to social media. In the early stages of our social media era, we learned from MySpace that we could be whoever we wanted to be, our profiles could portray whomever it was that we wanted people to see. We created a world where people were given permission to be whoever they wanted to be. Now that mindset is extended to Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr and Pinterest. We are able to create these personas, sometimes they are truthful to who we are and on other occasions they are who we want people to think we are. The danger in that is we never know when the opportunity to be unapologetically ourselves is given to us. We have lost sight of authenticity and how to integrate that into one on one interactions, in the way that we consider the number of followers we have as “real” and flourishing friendships and how closed off we’ve become when it comes down to truly, personally connecting to one another outside of double taps and comment condolences.
You are not a collection of Instagram’s best filters or quotes, you are a hot mess of a human being who is flawed, filled with the most random of quirks and so much beauty…
When was that last time someone asked how you were doing and instead of throwing out the, “Good! So good” that you have mentally recorded, you actually were honest with yourself and others, and admitted that you’re in a rough place? I know that, for me, it is one of the hardest things to do is to unravel my type-A, responsible, pastors’ daughter, first born, controlling self and actually lean into all that I am. What if we dared to take the time to admit when we’re not doing as well as we would like, and show the parts of our lives that aren’t so pinterest-y or put together? What if we dared to spill authenticity from every pore, every conversation, every interaction?
A week ago, I was having a conversation with a friend about our Christmas Breaks, our families and own personal state of being. We talked about how hard it was in some moments, how celebrating was also intertwined with some hard conversations and tears being shed. As we were talking he told me, “If I’m going to go through this life, I’m going to do it as a real human being.” I had to think about that for a second, a real human being. A human being who weeps, makes mistakes, hurts feelings, does ridiculous and reckless things, who laughs and gets frustrated. What if we vowed to live life as real human beings each day? Unafraid of our vulnerability, our authenticity, the unedited versions of our life and trust that there is no other way to live.
Authenticity: the act of living, being and exuding truth. Imagine how we would love people better if we dared to live that definition out—imagine how much more we would love ourselves! You are not a collection of instagram’s best filters or quotes, you are a hot mess of a human being who is flawed, filled with the most random of quirks and so much beauty…
The world needs more of us to say, bravely, here is all of me, stripped to the very core of who I am, please don’t judge, please tread softly and I promise to do the same for you.
Photos by Kimberly Jurgens for Yellow