I was at a conference this week and during a breakout session the question of authenticity came up. We were asked when could we be authentically ourselves. Uhhh… when can we not? During the open discussion, most of the attendees seemed to agree that we are lacking in relationships and opportunities where we can be authentic. I stood up and openly disagreed – and caught some flack for that.
Authentic implies that the contents of the thing in question correspond to the facts and are not imaginary.
My position is that being authentic doesn’t rest in a single experience or a single representation of your self. If you are choosing to display, share, or hide a part of you – then the act and process of making that choice is authentically you. Authenticity is multi-faceted…it is a system of parts all related to create a unique whole (in this case, a unique YOU!).
How many parts of you make the whole authentic you? Who gets to see or experience all of those parts? Why do we judge the “whole you” based on a small limited experienced part of you?
Communicating who you are is not always a complete reflection of all that you are. So this brings me to the notion of “being or acting fake.” I cringe when my students and clients refer to someone as being or acting fake. Taking this position implies that you KNOW all that there is to know about someone. How can this ever be possible? Our perception of others is rooted in the choices we make. We choose what we want to pay attention to – just like we get to choose which part of our authentic self we want to share with others.
There is a time and place for everything that you want to be. When I work students and clients, I choose which part of my authentic self to share with them and the same is true for when I work with my colleagues and spend time with friends and family. In each opportunity and relationship I am authentic and the beauty of all of this is that I get to define what that means for me.
Back to the conference…
I was openly challenged for my position and referred to as having an oppressed mind that is in the hand of my oppressors. Meaning that I am somehow letting “the system” define me and it is my duty (from their perspective) to behave in a way that they deemed authentic. Note to those individuals: THIS IS OPPRESSIVE! For me to stand up and disagree (by invitation) with the message being shared is authentically me.
Choosing to be all that you want to be is authentically you – who else would you be?
How your choices are communicated is also authentically you.
The question “Who are you?” can be read as “Who am I at this time?”
And if you’re concerned with whether you’re authentic or not…my position is that you are always authentically you!
Open Soul Communication
Effective Communication for Effective Relationships
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Picture by Andre Wagner