Authentic is a buzzword that seems to be used frequently these days.
What does it really mean though?
I hear others reference an “authentic life” and often fail to see its true application in their daily lives. I don’t mean to discount anyone’s journey, but do believe it’s a word that has real weight and power. For me, it is a cornerstone for a strong personal foundation. Recently, I shared a post on a kind and honest life, listing “authentic” as a step toward that goal.
Personally, I believe an authentic life is the unique intersection where self-love meets our highest alignment.
My path to an authenticity hasn’t come easily or quickly. In fact, there have been many painful twists and turns. To accurately paint the picture of my path, let me share some historical context first.
Some years back, life was an exercise of dancing as fast as I could. Each day I was on the stage of my creation in an exhaustive and futile attempt to live a life I believed everyone else expected from me. My internal need for perfection only perpetuated the dancing…faster, harder and more complex.
This amplified dance demanded more of me, so I continued to work faster and harder to perfect my routine. For many years, that recipe blessed me beyond belief. I achieved success that surpassed my circle of influence and became a living testament to the American Dream. I am beyond grateful for the experiences that shaped that life, but gratitude couldn’t absolve my internal hollowness. It left me feeling trapped and wanting to escape.
The dance had become dangerous.
Daily, I searched for distraction by seeking escape with sleep, food, shopping, or any other anesthetic that helped me unplug for a while. Temporarily, this behavior helped me to avoid painful parts of life, but like I often say, “wherever you go, there you are.”
I was overwhelmed, depleted, panicked, and depressed, constantly looking for a way out.
Finally, through a series of disastrous reversals I couldn’t no longer run from myself. The music had stopped and I was completely alone and out of moves. I fell from the mountain top I had built from mostly inauthentic means.
By trying to manage and control every outcome, I often found myself feeling like a fraud, even in those moments where I was completely in my element. The duplicity of this self-created life left me hanging between a life of the “expected” and one where there was no roadmap.
At rock bottom, I knew I had two choices, to end it all or begin again.
I spent considerable time contemplating both choices. I am grateful for the path I chose, which allows me to share from my own authentic place, honoring the struggle and pain that shaped this journey.
As I began again, there were days, weeks and months in the dark. Slowly, through a divine series of events, the light began to shine again.
One enlightened moment, was hearing Alanis Morissette share about her own turning point on Oprah’s Super Soul Sunday. Her life changing words were, “getting to the bottom where there was no lie left.”
For me, those words changed everything. Suddenly, a light came on and illuminated the reality that building an authentic life requires one to stand in their own truth. The Good, bad, and ugly all matters. Each and every step was a building block.
So, now what?
Bit by bit, I have become more aligned with a life that I had always longed for. I began uncertain of the end game, but set forth by showing up and saying yes to experiences that I’d always avoided. Doing so, forced me from my self-created box and opened me up in new and unexpected ways. Each new experience served as an opportunity to face my fears and become more aligned with my passion and purpose.
I’ve discovered the things that scare me the most are usually the greatest teachers. By honoring my feelings, I can view each new opportunity with discernment, deciding on its expansiveness by choosing yes or no. That power of choice leaves me feeling;
Peaceful. Relaxed. Aligned. Intentional. Purposeful. Powerful.
Each emotions is richly rewarding, filling my cup to overflowing. Ahhh…Authentic!
Painful experience taught me that none of us is wired to live a life that isn’t meant for us. Of course, we can show up and meet our obligations, often for quite some time, but as time goes on, there is an erosive and damaging effect.
A fully authentic life is one that honors our history and allows us to become more fully who we are here to be. Through integrating our stories, we can serve all that has come and gone while learning the appropriate lessons each offered. Standing in the face of what once trapped us allows us to challenge and discredit the painful stories that keep us from fully being who we are meant to be. I now lovingly refer to this process as “learning to love what is.”
For me, embracing my beautiful history in a kind and honest way has been the only clear path to an authentic life. I now use everyday as an opportunity to show up and face what life seeks to teach me. That has made all the difference and I no longer dance as fast as I can, but instead enjoy the gift of living in the flow.
Does something keep you from living a wholly authentic life?
If so, are you willing to explore yourself in a more focused way to find its rich reward?
I encourage you to join me on this journey of self-love and alignment…