AYWM 9: “Authenticity: Emphasizing What Makes You Different”
In the past few weeks I have evaluated my strengths and looked at the things that I am passionate about. This week I am thinking about what it means to be authentic and what makes me different.
I agree with C.A. Kabu who says that authenticity is a funny thing. She says, “You know it if it’s there, and you definitely know when it’s not. Defining authenticity requires much introspection. You have to think about your character, your values, your strengths, and their intersections. Eventually, you realize that the definition of authenticity is perhaps simpler than you expected. You can, for instance, reach the conclusion that being authentic is actually related to having a sense of who you are and sharing it with the world without reservations.”
Considering this helped me to determine why I should care about being authentic, how I can fully embrace my uniqueness, and how my life can change when I remain true to myself.
As I mentioned in a previous post, I have a kinda “been here, done this” feeling as I go through these exercises. I have been enjoying going through old journals and comparing my perceptions of my life from ten years ago to now. Some of the questions I asked myself back in 2001 are very similar to the introspective I am working on now. What fascinates me most is that even though I am most definitely in a different place now than I was back then, and I have changed and matured in many ways, the core of my being, my beliefs and values are very much the same. I do live an authentic life. It is when I lose sight of who I am and who I strive to be, that things get difficult.
In 2001, I asked myself the following questions at the beginning of a journal that I called. “I Love My Life.” By answering these questions, I was able to determine who I was and who I wanted to be. I believe this is when I embraced authenticity and learned to love myself.
- Is my overall outlook on life marked by hope and optimism?
- Are there things in my life that I am passionate about?
- At the conclusion of a day or week, do I often have a warm sense of satisfaction about my accomplishments and contributions?
- Can I become very still and experience a sense of peace?
- Do some parts of my life bring me a healthy sense of pride?
You Are a Snowflake, Right?
By Karen Caterson
Hi, Snowflake. You are a snowflake, right?
We all are! I mean, we’re all unique, beautiful, one-of-a-kind—just like snowflakes.
Of course, all of us gorgeous, individual snowflakes are also part of our culture, our society—our SNOW.
And there are a lot of wonderful things about SNOW. Joining with other snowflakes can be fun (think snow forts, snow fights, snow angels, and snowmen).
In our culture most of the emphasis is on the SNOW, way less on our uniqueness— our individual snowflake beauty.
We can even lose our snowflake-ness to the SNOW.
We all are snowflakes (unique and beautiful), but we’re not always comfortable with that.
Sometimes even thinking about our snowflake qualities (our differences, our beauty) makes us squirm—we can feel more like a flake than a snowflake.
But knowing our differences—and living them is what makes us authentic. And being authentic leads to making a difference in the world as we share our unique offerings!
So, how do we emphasize what makes us different—when we’re not always comfortable with our uniqueness (our snowflake-ness)?
It starts with awareness, mindfulness.
We can allow ourselves to get curious about the times when we feel or think differently than SNOW (than whatever is status quo at the time).
Many of us really enjoy connection, so we intuitively look for ways that we’re like others—ways we agree.
Purposely looking for how we think and feel differently can seem very odd, but continued mindfulness and curious reflection about our differences (our uniqueness) will grow into being more comfortable with our snowflake-ness… and that will grow into our snowflake beauty being emphasized naturally.
There is no one in this world that is exactly like me. My thoughts and feelings are entirely my own. Sometimes I feel like there are no original ideas. I strive to be different. I want to stand out. I want to shine. If I have an idea, I Google it. I am always disappointed, but not surprised, that someone somewhere has already thought of it. As a young person, I thought I was a trend-setter. Truthfully, I was trendy. But I spent a lot of time with people who weren’t so they thought I was the fashion-forward person. Did that make me a poser? No way! I always knew what I liked and I was not afraid to be me. I think that is what being authentic means. Not being afraid to stand up for oneself and being courageous enough to show your true colors.
I would say that I am off the charts when it comes to living my life authentically. Do I sound conceited? Why shouldn’t I have a sense of self-pride? I just did some serious soul-searching about what makes me unique and special. I can’t get over my bad self right now! I am on this! Right? Well, okay. The truth is sometimes, it fluctuates. I feel that lost feeling, like I am feeling my way through a forest. Things don’t always go my way. I resist or try to control things. I fall short of my potential. I start to listen to that critical inner voice. When I remember how good things truly are and I remember my focus, I can find my path fairly easily.
Right now the path is illuminated with those new bulbs that are supposed to last six times as long as the old kind and be more energy-efficient. . . and I see where I am going. It’s a lovely road that includes a lot of fun stops along the way. In six months from now I would like to be writing regularly and maintaining my blog while maintaining the balance of managing a home with three teen boys and working full-time. My goal for this period of time is to give each area of my life my all. Mostly, I want to be happy, keep up the energy that I am experiencing now, and stay true to myself. And as C.A. Kobu says, “When you are in touch with who you really are and welcome your authentic self with open arms, your life acquires a different and marvelous flow, and you feel oh so good!” Oh yeah! I sure do!
Visit Karen Caterson at Square-Peg People
See C.A. Kobu flourish at http://wakeupandflourish.com/
Join A Year With Myself and explore your authentic self . . . http://ayearwithmyself.com/