Lately there has been a lot of talk around authenticity. Should you be authentic? How are you authentic? Can you be authentic? There are valid arguments on all sides, but to be honest, screw anyone who tells you what your blog and your online presence has to be about. Use it as you see fit to accomplish whatever it is you want to do or to become whoever it is you want to be.
Remember that a blog or a profile are nothing more than tools and we can use them as we see fit. There is no right, there is no wrong. There is just whatever words you choose to put down on the screen. As for me, sometimes I strive to be honest, to share my struggles with being more creative and productive. Other times, I chose to be more aspirational with my efforts here. To try and teach what I’m still learning and share how it is helping. More often than not, I am offering words up to myself as much as I am to you. It may not be “authentic” but it reminds me of who I want to be and where I hope to go.
When I was younger, I was painfully awkward1. I had no idea how to act in public and how to reconcile what was in my head with what was coming out of my mouth. It felt crippling and to a certain extent it was. I had few friends, little direction and no confidence.
Thankfully I’ve always had two things going for me: painful self-consciousness and a special breed of reckless persistence. I wasn’t happy and I refused to settle for who I was and hatched the kind of hair-brained scheme that only a 17-year-old could. I decided to become a punk.
I changed the way I dressed and the way I acted. I spiked my hair (even bleached it at one point), started skateboarding (which I had no aptitude for whatsoever) and started listening to punk rock (even though I never had much love for it).
It was comic at best and sad at worst, but the it unlocked something inside. It tapped into a confidence that I never knew was there. It became my own personal Kabuki mask, an over-the-top costume that allowed me to confidently play the part. And the more distance I got from who I didn’t want to be, the easier it became to find out who I was. And for the record, it quickly became clear that it was not a punk.
There are serious benefits to leaning in, to being true to who you are, but there is also something to be said for stepping away from that every now and again. Today I know myself better and am far stronger because I had put on a silly costume and faked it. I was as far from authentic, but inevitably it lead me to who I am.
Let this be a place where you can be who you want until you find out who you are (and then feel free to use it to express that). I don’t write this blog because I’m exceptionally productive and extraordinarily creative. I write it to get better, to be better and hope that what I put on the page helps me as much as it helps you. It may not be authentic, but I sure want it to be.
If being authentic is keeps you from being who you want to be or doesn’t seem to get where you where you want to go, try something inauthentic. Find a mask, try it on and see what happens. It may not work, but if you aren’t happy with where you are, staying true to that is only going to keep you from who you are meant to be.
yep, this version of me is a serious improvement. Sad, but true ↩