Being real. I think it is about the coolest thing that a person can be.
“I feel like I am the only person struggling,” I often hear from my students or women with whom I work.
Nope, you aren’t. We all struggle at different times; we’ve just become accustomed to keeping our struggles to ourselves. And while you certainly don’t have to broadcast your struggles, it can be really powerful to just be real with people in your immediate, intimate life. I find that when a friend says, “this is hard,” that it allows me three things.
1. To listen. At the end of the day, I think this is what we all want—to really be heard. And when I can give that to someone else, I feel like I am meaningfully engaging in the exchange that living is meant to be.
2. To powerfully and thoughtfully commune with that person. Maybe communing means that I just sit with him and her through the struggle. Maybe it means that I can actively do something of support—cook a meal, watch their child, make a phone call. But I find that being in community with someone else, because they have expressed their authentic truth, is one of the most powerful ways to exist in the world. It is a humbling honor to have the chance to do that.
3. To get real with myself. So often, we might think that we have to have it all figured out by now. But that’s not true (more of this in an upcoming blog post). And when someone reminds me that life is more journey than simple, parking in it, destination, I am empowered to live a more REAL life.
And I dig real. Life’s too short to live in façade and fracture. I bet you dig real, too.
So, today, I want to share four ways to show who you authentically are to the world.
Tell your truth. When someone with whom I have connection (this is to say that I don’t necessarily unload on the casual “how are you” at the grocery store) asks me how something went, I don’t just sugar coat it. I don’t project the best image to the world. I tell the truth. I say here is what was hard about it; here is what was good. Here is what is hard for me; here is what it is easier. I try, also, to tell the truth- without betraying the people in my life who didn’t ask to have their actions publicly dissected/ so there’s a balance there about making sure my revelations are about me and not someone else- on my blog and on social media. It can be scary, initially, because you worry about whether or not you will be judged or accepted but what I have found is that people are eager to listen, to help, and that there is often a reaction of, “Oh, me too” which helps us all feel less alone in the world.
Be wholehearted in your yeses and nos. You might recall that my word for 2012 was wholehearted because I wanted to make sure that anything that I committed to doing I could do with my whole heart. Taking a wholehearted approach to what I do and how I do it has been such an incredible gift. Say yes when you would love to, no when you wouldn’t and know that just the right person is out there to say yes to the thing that you aren’t able to do with your whole heart.
Be true to your essence. So, try as we might, hairy situations pop up and when they do, they sometimes throw us so off that we want to get all reactive in a way that we don’t normally react. Then, later, we regret acting that way- not because a reaction was wrong but because the reaction we chose wasn’t right for us. So, as much as possible, stay grounded in who you are when something goes awry. If it’s true for how you are, embrace it—if it’s not, don’t; it’ll just take you further away from your truth.
Be vulnerable. Vulnerability is an incredible gift to yourself and to whomever you with whom you are in commune. Be real. Share with people your whole self. While it feels, well, vulnerable, it is actually such a powerful and empowering way to be in the world.
What are your rule for being authentic in the world? When has authenticity or vulnerability or wholeheartedness really touched you?