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Thoughts on Authenticity

September 25, 2010

For the next few weeks, the ladies behind the website Spring are running a challenge called Spring into Action with weekly prompts to use for a blog post. I always like a new challenge, so I decided to participate.

This weeks question:

What makes you authentically you?

This is sort of a loaded question to me, as I’ve had quite a struggle over the years in answering this question for myself.

While growing up, like many kids, I went to summer camp. I went to the kind of summer camps where at the end of the time together, we had to write cards for each other and write something we liked about every person we’d hung out with. Invariably, my card would say things along the lines of ‘You’re a good listener’ on it. I hated this. I so badly wished that for a change would say something like:’ You’re really fun’. Whenever I was told that I was a good listener, what I heard was: “You’re so boring. You have no personality. Your only use is to listen to what others are saying.”

It’s taken me a long time to come to a place where I can now look back and think that maybe they what they were saying was: “I feel heard when I’m around you and I appreciate that.”

Why am I sharing this? Because I feel that I can’t talk about authenticity without being honest about the fact that this has been a real struggle for me. Also, because I experienced a lot of self-loathing and this is something that can run very deep. In fact, at the time, I didn’t feel it would ever go away. Yet, now it isn’t really an issue for me anymore. I’m still a very imperfect person and I have many weaknesses along with my strengths, but it just isn’t really a source of shame anymore.

I think for anyone that struggles with accepting who they are, it’s important to know that there is hope. That just because you feel a certain way about yourself now, it doesn’t mean this won’t change. I think that most, if not all, of us have struggled with some aspect of who we are at some point in our lives. We are constantly bombarded with messages of who we should be, what we should look like, what we should have. I think part of being authentic is being honest from time to time about your struggles and it makes us all feel a little less alone in it.

The thing is that I realized that what I once saw as a weakness is actually a strength. My propensity for listening translates to an openness to ideas, to inspiration, to other people’s struggles as well as their happiness. My need for reflection means that I sift through my impressions and (hopefully, most times) hold on to what’s good and am able to let go of what doesn’t serve me or my relationships. I think for most of us, too, what has been our biggest struggle can become a source of our greatest strength.

I’m working through a book called Style Statement at the moment. There are many questions in the book that help you to tease out your preferences in several areas of your life and that give you new insights in what attracts you and what doesn’t. Based on this, you formulate your own Style Statement consisting of two words. It really isn’t a shallow definition of style, but about who you are, what matters to you and the way your approach everything in life.

I thought I’d share a couple of questions taken from the book and some of my answers. Maybe they’ll help you think along about what makes you authentically you as well.

My favorite scents: Coco Mademoiselle, freshly baked cookies, vanilla, lavender, citrus fruits, the sea.

Form of excercise: Taking my dog for walks. Push-ups.

I crave: Feeling understood. Beauty. Feeling safe. Laughter. Change.

Very interested in: Love – I think learning how to live loved and loving others is one of the most important things a person can do. Truth. Faith. Design principles – I love to learn about the principles behind what makes something that is well-designed work. Joy – I think it can be all too easy to live life without joy but it becomes so much richer with it.

I have very little tolerance for: People with too much of a sense of entitlement. Rudeness.

You’d never catch me wearing: Pajamas in public. Or even sweatpants.
Because: I believe in getting dressed, it’s common courtesy to me!

As you can see, the questions are pretty fun. Now, over to you. What makes you authentically you?

XO Jadyn

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2 Comments leave one →
  1. September 25, 2010 1:13 pm

    What a lovely, brave post. Thanks for sharing. I think the thing that really stood out to me was craving being understood. I would have to put that at the top of my list of cravings, too… and I find that being a foreigner in a strange land makes that so much harder (yes, people can say Americans speak English all they like, but really, there are some major language barriers!). I wonder if you find that, too, with being abroad? And even beyond the simple words of language, I feel there’s a lot of cultural stuff that gets misunderstood, especially being married to someone from a different country.

  2. September 26, 2010 4:33 pm

    oooh, this looks interesting. i’m going to check out the site. have a great Sunday…xox

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