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Authenticity and Courage

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I am redesigning my website. I want it to look professional, authentic, and inspiring. A colleague asks me what authentic means to me. Me at my most vulnerable, me at my best, me at my worst?

Haha…! Funny question!

Is it? … Maybe not so much. Authentic is not just me at my most cutest, vulnerable, my most delightful.

Authentic is also me in the middle of a fight with my husband, having judgmental thoughts about others, or seeing my poochy belly hanging out of my t-shirt.

I am pretty sure I don’t want any of that on my website. I want the me at my most lovable best. Me worthy of love, acceptance, and belonging.

Certainly not the me that might trigger criticism. Not the me that might prompt people to turn away, or turn against. Certainly not any part of me that might trigger being alone, all by myself.

When I consider the parts of me I want to keep private, I start thinking of the times when fear of rejection stopped me from living my truest dreams: my longing to go to theater school, to tell the first love of my life I had a crush on him, or to pursue publication of my first children’s story.

When I sit with this fear of rejection, I wonder if courage means taking a social risk and still doing what I believe is true? Maybe courage doesn’t mean risking my life to help war victims in Syria, or offering myself to replace the inmate on death row just before his execution.

Maybe my courage lies in holding on to my vegan diet, even if others find it weird. Or calling upon my co-mediators in the lunch meetup to recycle their plastic plates, instead of throwing them away. Or repelling from a cliff with a terrifying fear of heights, with guys I’d never met before.

What if authenticity means living your deepest aspirations, even if you might face negative consequences? Would my answer to my colleague be that authenticity means being true to my values, living them in everyday life?

Courage and authenticity seem interrelated, especially if we’re not sure we’ll face an empathetic, accepting response. So my questions to you are:

  • What means authenticity to you?
  • How is courage connected to authenticity?
  • What comes up for you?

Let me know, I would love to read your response.

Author: Elly van Laar

I am a coach. I specialize in helping compassionate professionals integrate self-care in their lives. I have a Master's degree in Political Science, Leiden University, the Netherlands. I love meditation, walking, gardening, biking, and hanging out with family and friends.

4 thoughts on “Authenticity and Courage

  1. Hi Aralyn, thanks for reading and responding. Yes, I believe authenticity is first and foremost about knowing yourself. Then you are in choice about what you want to share with others. I’m not sure if it’s about keeping secrets, or about the level of intimacy in relationships. I don’t believe that the fact that I don’t undress at my networking event, means that I am secretive or inauthentic. It just means that there is a certain level of intimacy. If I wouldn’t want to undress in front of my husband, I might see myself as secretive and inauthentic. How does that land?

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  2. Authenticity means being present with all of yourself. I try to have no secrets. I try not to think this is private. If it is relevant to talk about, I do as I don’t want people to have secrets around me. Secrets and hiding stop authenticity in relationships.

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  3. Thank you Elly. This is so true for me too.
    I appreciate your eloquent and inspiring words and the empathy and honesty behind them.

    Like

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