“I Choose Authenticity.”
Those words are the first I see when I stare straight ahead, confronting writer’s block, waiting for the inspiration to hit me. Literally, they’re on a poster above my desk. They’re also the words I retreat to when my story gets too hard, too personal, too real; when I wish it was someone else’s narrative, and I wish I could get some distance.
Life is full of messy, uncomfortable, painful moments. And most of the time, we’re totally unprepared for how “real” life is about to get. It sneaks up on us, and then avoidance becomes our best alibi. Most of us are more comfortable staying a safe distance away from ourselves and our feelings – it’s easier than doing the work of reuniting our actions, intentions, and feelings.
However, in those difficult moments we must practice balancing the opposing feelings of being fully present and running away. Those are the moments we grow.
The thing is, if we’re going to reclaim ourselves and our strength, we need to be courageous, we need to show up, turn toward our anxieties and discomfort, and let ourselves be seen - whether we’re ready or not. We need to acknowledge our truths, even if the exposure feels interminable and unimaginably difficult to bear. We need to face head on our suffering, the indescribable, painful reminders of our less-than-proudest moments that continue to steal our attention, even when we are confident that we’ve squelched them all down, and then embrace our own crumbling walls so we can live more authentically.
Choosing authenticity means being the author and reporter of my lived experiences, and knowing that any feelings that accompany my experiences are legitimate, and acceptable. It means feeling those feelings rather than finding the nearest, easiest escape route.
There is an inexplicable feeling of strength and pride associated with owning my story - in choosing authenticity.
Willingly embracing vulnerability and surrendering to my feelings is terrifying! Often, when I write a piece, I start by requesting that my work remain anonymous. I have so much to share, so many thoughts, and writing is a respite. It’s a welcomed space to be honest and struggle with my spinning thoughts, but agreeing that the story is mine, and taking ownership for my words is totally overwhelming – every time. Choosing authenticity means owning my words, and embracing the power that comes with that responsibility.
I’m learning that we all have something to say, and “having something to say and no one to hear it is so lonely." When I own my words, the subsequent intimacy and connection to others that I gain by realizing that I’m not alone is no more dangerous than avoiding my feelings and experiencing my story in isolation.
In fact, it’s relieving. Feeling so deeply, being present in a place of hurt or pain, and embracing your own truth can leave you breathless. It’s brave.
Brene Brown said it best. She said, “I see now how owning our story and loving ourselves through that process is the bravest thing that we will ever do." And so, even though it’s scary, I have learned that there is an inexplicable feeling of strength and pride associated with owning my story – in choosing authenticity. In the end really, “our story is the only thing we have that’s completely our own."
For me, this sentiment means saying “yes” even when it makes me literally shake, and putting my name on an article that feels deeply personal – usually it’s about something I haven’t even talked to my friends or family about. It’s terrifying and exciting, but honestly, the momentum is contagious, and it gets easier every time.