The Art of Authenticity

This weekend Mr. Backbone and I went to a company holiday party, a party with friends, and decorated, decorated, decorated our own home for a family party we’ll be hosting next weekend.  Stay tuned…there will be a party recap next week.

Today, let’s take part in the Self-Discovery, Word by Word series, which is being hosted this month by Katie at Health for the Whole Self.  The concept is to select a single word and encourage meaningful self-reflection by focusing on the word. 

This month’s word is Authenticity.

Before reading some posts from other bloggers on the word Authenticity, I never associated this word with people. 

I would use it to describe food.  Yum!  This has to be authentic Mexican….

Or places.  This town is so cool; it’s really authentic to its history.

Or things, like the crap people bring to Pawn StarsYes sir, that’s an authentic NASA negative…but I goddda make money on it, so I’ll give you 20  dollars cash and 20 bucks in pawn shop credit.  Love that show. 

Turning to people, I struggled with applying the word.  It means: Real.  True.  Original.  Pure.  Genuine.  Undisputed. 

I thought…Am I real and true with others?  Are others real and true with me?  All the time?  Or, just some of the time?  If I’m selective about it, is there an art to revealing my authentic self?

I’m not so sure that I’ve ever been 100% real, true, and genuine with anyone, 100% of the time.  It would mean that nearly every thought that entered my brain when interacting with someone would exit my mouth.  I never do that.  I always filter.  I’m constantly filtering. Most of the time I filter because I don’t want to hurt peoples’ feelings.  Or, I filter as a form of self-protection.  To keep up a wall.  To set a boundary. 

Also, being as chameleon-like as I am, I don’t show all sides of my personality to everyone I meet.  I’m never intentionally disingenuous, but if being authentic means always showing a complete and true, undisputed self…I fail the definition. 

I think it comes down to this….  The key is for YOU to know the authentic YOU.  Whether or not you chose to show your authenticity, and to who, and in what quantities…is a complete judgement call.  Not doing so doesn’t mean you lack authenticity.  So long as you’re being genuine, holding back just means you’re filtering.  And filtering isn’t always a bad thing. 

Lots of people let their different sides show, depending on the situation at hand.  Even Santa.  We all know his white beard and jolly HoHoHo, but what about…

When he goes to Ireland…

And the Ukraine…

And China…

He’s still Santa…right?  Or, a form of Santa.  But, he’s turned into someone that the people of other countries can relate to and understand.  Does that mean that Santa isn’t authentic?   I don’t think so. 

Do you think that being genuine and being authentic are the same, or different?  Do you filter, and if so, how much? 

I am flying off into Business Land tomorrow, so there will be no post this Wednesday.  I’ll be back with you on Friday.  Have a great week!

8 responses to this post.

  1. INTERESTING! I think that filtering is absolutely necessary in certain situations. Human beings are social creatures, and to an extent filtering is an essential part of that. But like you said, that doesn’t have to mean you’re being inauthentic or phony; rather, it means you’re consciously choosing to share only certain parts of yourself in certain situations.

    I think that the key is ensuring that the part of yourself you share in one situation doesn’t directly conflict with the part of yourself you share in another situation. For example, I might act differently at work than I do at home, but that’s ok so long as in both situations I’m still being myself. I hope that makes sense!


  2. Posted by suzicate on December 13, 2010 at 6:15 pm

    Ironic to stumble across this word on your post today! Authenticity is my number one priority in considering people as friends…I do not do pretentious. I find it valuable when trust is concerned. I like to know the real thing, and don’t like to pretend to be offering more than I am. Good post.


  3. Very insightful that you said “I don’t like to pretend to be offering more than I am.” When I meet people for the first time, some of them come off as over-selling themselves. Good point that it’s much better to be your authentic self, even at a first impression.


  4. I think you hit the nail on the head when it comes to being authentic and genuine, by sharing….

    “The key is for YOU to know the authentic YOU. Whether or not you chose to show your authenticity, and to who, and in what quantities…is a complete judgement call. Not doing so doesn’t mean you lack authenticity. So long as you’re being genuine, holding back just means you’re filtering. And filtering isn’t always a bad thing.”

    I agree, filtering is not bad thing at all. I use to allow every thought to just pop out of my mouth; believing that if I didn’t say it all, I wasn’t being genuine. However, I’ve learned that filtering is being wise, because it I must adapt myself to each person individually. But I can still be genuine.

    Great post!

    And if we don’t touch base before the holidays….Merry Christmas, Tracy!



  5. I seriously love all of these posts. I really need to get my act together and write mine. I have it on my “blog list” but keep forgetting about it.


  6. Totally agree with you about filtering. You just *can’t* show the same side to your boss and co-workers that you do in bed with your wild & crazy b-f (one hopes.)

    Not pretending to love, say, mushrooms or action flicks when you don’t is part of being authentic. As you saying, knowing who YOU are.

    Love the Santas.


  7. Great post! How much to filter is a really good question. I write a lot about mental illness (my eating disorder, my husband’s bipolar disorder), but I do it anonymously so that there are no adverse professional consequences for either of us. However, I recognize that this reluctance to “come out” as people recovering from mental illness probably doesn’t do much to dispel the stigma associated with mental illness. It’s definitely an interesting issue and a tricky balancing act!


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