It kinda feels like a buzz word at this point – authentic/authenticity. It first walked into my life in college. I was a Resident Assistant taking a mandated leadership course that I ended up absolutely loving. Among the various sub topics, we talked about the differing forms and personalities of leaders. As soon as we came upon “Authentic Leadership” I was hooked. Those who operated under authentic leadership were leaders who were simply real. They worked alongside their employees/team members. Authentic leaders did not lean into fear as a driving force but rather, open communication and creating common goals.
Since college, and especially as of late, authenticity has been rearing its head again and again. Becoming this echoing mantra in my mind. Being authentic, being honest with who I am, what I like and don’t like; uncovering, a little more every day, what makes me who I am, what makes me come alive and what God put me in this planet to do.
Before we go any further I need you to recognize…truly recognize how special you are. Take a moment first to understand how important YOUR stamp is. There is a whole slew of people who need to hear YOUR story, who are interested in things that YOU are interested in and will love exactly who YOU are. Why try to hang with anyone else? You were created to tell your own story, not mimic someone else’s.
Along my ever changing and blooming authenticity journey, a few things have stuck out to me, made me re-evaluate how true I was really being to myself and shaken up my perspective. For you, I’ll boil it down to three…
“You are the only you that will ever be” – Jen Sincero She says this a few times in her book “You Are a Bad Ass” and for good reason. I think most of us need to hear it more than once. I am the only me that will ever be. I am the only Nandi raised by Jessica and Dillard, with a younger sister Imani who grew up in a sometimes volatile household where alcohol and “heated arguments” were very much present all while having the privilege to travel the world, meet new people, move to new places, be exposed to a variety of cultures. All of our individual stories/background/lifestyle choices make us exactly who we are and there is NO SHAME to be had in our stories, only celebration. Telling our stories gives others permission to tell theirs as well. We find connection there. We all crave connection, no matter how awkward the process to it is. The people you identify with share commonalities with you. Whether it's music, hobbies or simply growing up in the same state before you both moved to Colorado, it is our stories that connect us. You are the only you that will ever be. If you don’t read any further, take this nugget of love with you and cherish it. Being you, no matter the circumstances, is a beautiful story to be told. Share it.
Your purpose lies within your authentic self When we waste our time trying to be other people we miss our own calling. Don’t you love it when you scroll through your feed and see that one friend from high school just living her best life!? She’s living in her authenticity, what makes her come alive and shine. If you’re not happy for her, you’re likely jealous because you know you’re not living your best life. Step one to getting to that “best life” status? Aside from deciding you’re going to live your best life- and mean it – is identifying what makes YOU come alive. What makes YOU happy. What makes YOU giddy to be you. (Again, you should totally read Jen Sincero’s book because she hits all of this on the head soooo well!). When we are our most authentic we are in touch with who God/The Universe created us to be. We are sharing our gifts with the world by simply being ourselves. This doesn’t have to be anything outlandish. Start by thinking about what simply makes you smile and start there.
Your tribe is waiting Could you imagine if Rachel Hollis, or whoever your latest favorite author is, decided not to write the book that has changed your life?? Okay, maybe that’s a little dramatic, but really, what if that speaker, author, teacher, mentor had decided not to follow their arrow and instead tried to mimic someone else’s? They wouldn’t have made the impact on your life that they had because they were chasing someone else’s dreams. Our stories are all so beautifully different in ways that to me feel divine. Because of my specific genetics and environment of my upbringing I am who I am today, and for a handful of people I am just the voice, friend, coach, teacher that they needed. Likewise, there is a group of people out there that need your specific story to help them to identify with their own. Your natural born gifts are truly GIFTS that should be shared to others. People, who probably don’t even know it themselves yet, are waiting to receive these gifts. Imagine your very best friend. They love you exactly as you and it is because of who you are that you two are close. Trust me, while you may not be in the market for a new bestie, there is a tribe of people awaiting your authentic craziness and cannot wait to celebrate all that makes you unique.
Authenticity is about being exactly who you are. This doesn’t equate to being especially blunt or rude or “I am who I am so deal with it!” It’s about identifying with all of the things that have come together to make you who you are and allowing celebration of individuality instead of a feeling as though “I need to be like him” and “I need to dress like her”. Your gifts are sacred and so very much needed in this world. When we all thrive in our own skin, the fear of being seen melts away. The need to judge melts away. The living of false, forced lives, melts away.
Being authentic is being free.