Radical Authenticity

“We have to dare to be ourselves, however frightening or strange that self may prove to be.”

― May Sarton

It is easier said than done. It is extremely difficult to be authentic (and honest) in the world where falsehood and hypocrisy is highly rewarded (and more appreciated). I know this to be true. I came from humble beginnings (you know… Blessed -are -you -who -are -poor-for- yours- is -the -kingdom -of -God- bullshit) grew up in isolation surrounded by nature and only my siblings as companions. Like I said already before when one is only dealing with ones immediate family and one doesn’t have a phantom audience to impress and deceive or conform to social rules, one becomes fearlessly authentic and brutally honest but socially inept.

And what is socially adept means? It means being able to understand and play the majority’s politics and conform to society’s philosophy and ideology. It means pleasing everybody most of the time and trying to be well-liked. It means running with the herd, not rocking the boat, going with the flow, staying in line, wearing a mask (each for every occasion) and hiding your true self. That or committing social suicide and running the risk of being a pariah.

“When you’re socially awkward, you’re isolated more than usual, and when you’re isolated more than usual, your creativity is less compromised by what has already been said and done. All your hope in life starts to depend on your craft, so you try to perfect it. One reason I stay isolated more than the average person is to keep my creativity as fierce as possible. Being the odd one out may have its temporary disadvantages, but more importantly, it has its permanent advantages.”

― Criss Jami, Killosophy

I have my doubts about this above quote, though I want to believe it with all my heart and been practicing it since day one. Protect your originality, right? It’s okay if you don’t have to share your thoughts, your craft your work. But even famous introverted artists (think Emily Dickinson) has to suffer social interaction once in a while in order to be heard. We have to market our products, and for that we need audience. And before we can have the public listening, we need others who would/could help us to be out there and be known. Especially these days when a good marketing strategy can sell a mediocre merchandise (think of Fifty Shades Of Grey -just a personal humble opinion of mine) where glitter and glamour are more popular than ever (reality shows like Real Housewives) and social media can make (almost) anyone an instant celebrity (with the right approach). Being a real introvert in this day and age means drowning in the sea of anonymity. Nobody will knock on your door to see what you’ve got to offer unless you put yourself out there first. And that’s include a lot of hard work.

Practicing the above quote literally means being vulnerable and more susceptible to rejections which can lead to depressions and all sorts of things. (Think of Virginia Woolf and Sylvia Plath) When all your hope in life utterly depends on your craft and your sole purpose is to perfect it, there where it starts to become dangerously fatal. Balance is the key. It is okay to be introvert and perfectionist, but realize also that no man is an island. We all need help in some areas from time to time. Though I’m generous to a fault, it took me a long while to realize and accept that it is not a shame or a weakness to take and receive aid myself. I still have difficulties asking for assistance but I’m getting there. Like Gendry said (GOT)  If you need help bark like a dog. Just kidding.

“Highly sensitive people are too often perceived as weaklings or damaged goods. To feel intensely is not a symptom of weakness, it is the trademark of the truly alive and compassionate. It is not the empath who is broken, it is society that has become dysfunctional and emotionally disabled. There is no shame in expressing your authentic feelings. Those who are at times described as being a ‘hot mess’ or having ‘too many issues’ are the very fabric of what keeps the dream alive for a more caring, humane world. Never be ashamed to let your tears shine a light in this world.”

― Anthon St. Maarten

Expressing authentic feelings and letting your tears shine a light in this world is the fastest way to isolation and being a social pariah . Nobody wants to know your trouble and woes believe me. When people ask ‘How are you?’ they are just being polite. They expect the customary answer of : Yes I’m fine, how are you, how’s your family the weather, the dog, your job, etc. Imagine when you tell them the truth. Like: 

“Ah, I don’t feel fine, not for a long time already, in fact since I was born. You see I hate this freaking life. The only reason why I don’t say goodbye to this cruel world (actually it’s not the world that is cruel for this is a wonderful, beautiful world full of gorgeous scenery) is because I am a catholic and even though I doubt the existence of heaven and hell deep down inside I still believe in the possibilities that those places really exist you never know and I don’t want to be punished for taking my own life for I suffered already enough in this one I don’t want to suffer again where I’m going. And my family… you asked about my family? Well, they are lying, thieving bunch of no good who will betray each other including me, mostly me in order to get what they want. Not what they deserved but what they want it doesn’t matter if it’s not theirs to take.”

And you go on and on about why it is that you are not feeling fine. I guarantee you they will never going to ask you ever again: How are you? And be sure the next time you encounter them, they will avoid you like a pest.

It is the nature of people to expect good things to be enamoured of beautiful, ideal, shining, fairy tale-like existence and I cannot blame them. In this world where chaos, cruelty and violence (among so many ugly realities of life) are omnipresent, it is forgivable to want to deceive ourselves with superficial beauty. It is not a crime (it is in fact highly recommended-how could we otherwise survive) to be positive, optimistic, hopeful, believe in something even if it is only  a make-believe.

“A lot of the conflict you have in your life exists simply because you’re not living in alignment; you’re not be being true to yourself. Live authentically. Why would you continue to compromise something that’s beautiful to create something that is fake?”

― Steve Maraboli, Life, the Truth, and Being Free

People learned to lie, to deceive and be fake because they want to be accepted; they want to belong, to be connected, to be happy and to live in peace. Honesty and frankness make you vulnerable and outcast. Nobody wants to be left out so most seek the ‘easy way.’ They pretend to be always okay, always strong, always happy, staying in line projecting everything that is glorious and positive because people are attracted (jealous, envious) to everything glamorous and idyllic. Look at the example of social media. Those who have legions of followers are the ones who seem to be leading exciting lives which often means beauty and wealth equals fame. Once you have the popularity you can afford to be eccentric and whatever image you want to project to the public. But not before.

Having said that, personally I would not want to( ex)change myself into somebody else I am not even if it means being more popular and widely accepted. I am one of those people who thrive in solitude and don’t mind being alone. Granted, it could be difficult sometimes (in fact, most of the time) it is hard to be misunderstood, to be honest and authentic, to speak your mind, stay true to yourself and stick to your principles all the time. You cannot be all that and be truly happy. I’m happy with myself but people can make me sad with their social norms and protocols, their demands and expectations. Their fear of the unusual and unknown, their avoidance of truth and their narrow-mindedness. But still, I will not have it otherwise. 

I believe that so long as you are true to the best that is in you, everything will eventually find its proper place.

What it means to be authentic:

– to be more concerned with truth than opinions
– to be sincere and not pretend
– to be free from hypocrisy: “walk your talk”
– to know who you are and to be that person
– to not fear others seeing your vulnerabilities
– being confident to walk away from situations where you can’t be yourself
– being awake to your own feelings
– being free from others’ opinions of you
– accepting and loving yourself”

― Sue Fitzmaurice

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