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It's 6:18am and I've been up all night working on a paper so in line with that paper here goes.....

What is authenticity?

What defines authenticity in a life? Are we being authentic by dressing a certain way, in a certain brand or style? Are we being authentic by liking or loving certain colors, architecture or art? Are we being authentic by the foods we enjoy or the plays we attend or even the people we choose to be friends with? Are we being authentic by representing the location we grew up in, the music we listen to or the values we hold dear? What defines an authentic life?

If any one of us had to truly define what authenticity in a life represents, I wonder if we could do it….. Does anyone in our modern world even know what that word means anymore? I think it would be difficult for modern society to understand authenticity because modern society has no idea what integrity is. It is impossible in any forum to be truly authentic if you cannot first have a foundation of integrity. My favorite definition of authenticity in the merriam-webster dictionary is this: true to one's own personality, spirit, or character is sincere and authentic with no pretensions.... "SINCERE WITH NO PRETENSIONS"

Let me explain what I mean by modern society having no integrity or authenticity….. The whole world seems to have an opinion on things now, but only a very small percentage of those opinions are based on actual educated knowledge or fact. We just go with the flow now…….if most of society is for it, it must be the right way…..right? I see post after post on facebook of opinions (not facts) about this or that celebrity, or politician or way of life. News story after news story about this event or that or this person or that person and then after researching the facts of the stories myself I find 9 times out of 10 they are not even 10% based on actual fact. And don’t even get me started on magazines!!! And the worst part about all this is that modern society knows this but they do not care. They want to be told where to go, what to do, and what to think and how to believe. They want everything easy and they want it now!

It's so much easier of course to just go down the same path everyone else has already carved out, then to fight down your own way alone. But would you really be alone? Or might you be surprised to find that there are multitudes of others who are carving out their own path too! So what if we dare to be different? Dare to go our own way, to create, to blaze our own path what then? What does your authentic life look like? Who are you really? If you strip away all the masks you use to show people only the you that you want them to see…..if you strip everything away to the core of what drives you, what your passionate about, what you can’t live without. If nothing was holding you back…..who would you be? What does authenticity look like in your life? What does authentic look like in my life?

For me authenticity is being me. Writing stories in my own words and in my own worlds. Not trying to be like another writer but just being me. It means writing songs and singing them the way I feel they should be sung. It means learning something new every day even if I never again use the information I acquire (kind of like algebra). It means refusing to be bullied because I have a different opinion or belief system. It means loving even the unlovable and forgiving when it makes no sense at all to forgive. It means saying things that make people shake their heads and being amusing when I don’t mean to be. It means sometimes keeping my mouth shut, because my opinion may be wrong and even if it's right the cost of hurting someone is too high a price to pay for it.

Being authentic means standing my ground when everyone else walks away. It means reading books no one else reads because I might learn something new that will help me better understand and navigate this crazy life. Being authentic means walking a mile in someone else’s shoes….because until I do, I have no right to ask them to walk a mile in mine. It means being inspired by everything every day, because it’s that easy to still find good in the world. Being authentic for me means never fully growing up because if I do all authenticity I have goes out the window.

So the challenge today in the words of Dolly Parton “Find out who you are and do it on purpose” time is going to pass whether you choose to do that or not.

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