People think I have my life together. Guess what? I don’t. Being perceived as great (in a highly constructed reality you’ve created for those around you) doesn’t actually mean you’ve got it together. There’s this thing… it’s called being authentic, and most of us have no idea how to do it. I’m still learning how.
When you are being authentic, you are the strongest, most resilient version of yourself, because authenticity means bearing your scars and failures for the world to see, no matter how ugly they feel. And that’s what we don’t do. We’re not vulnerable enough. We’re too busy trying not to be vulnerable.
The possession of flaws is a staple of the human experience, yet we live in a society in which we are pressured to cover up those flaws in order to appear normalized or acceptable. Simply put, this is why we are messed up.
Why I’m Messed Up And So Are You
The problem is that if we cave to this pressure of being perfect, we present a flawless, error-free, sterling version of our character—our Self—and in doing so, we feel increasingly lost due to a) a divergence between who we are and who we present to the world, and b) the incorrect belief that we’re the only ones with such divergence, thereby viewing everyone else as ‘composed’. In our hearts, we know there is work to be done, but we avoid it, because beginning such work would entail exposing our flaws & opening ourselves to ridicule, perception, and judgment; a cruel punishment, indeed. I’m not saying we need to start screaming our insecurities/addictions/trauma at the top of our lungs, down the hallway at work (let me know if you do, I kind of want to be there for that), but we need to be cognizant of why we have our insecurities, and work to communicate ‘why’ to the people around us.
We find the greatest comfort in those who we believe are like ourselves.
The reality is that when we’re willing to endure vulnerability, we find not just comfort, but incredible strength and community, telling our stories and bearing our souls to a cold world. Eckhart Tolle said it best, “…you need to say yes to suffering before you can transcend it.” It’s like rehab, but for everyone. We all need rehab. We are warriors in our own lives. We fight battles no one knows anything about. All of us. It’s a fact. And yet, we walk around presenting the most suited and put-together versions of ourselves, as if to suggest that being civilized also means being ignorant and incommunicative of our struggles. Like we all aren’t going crazy. It’s completely delusional to act like this. Sharp pencils look sharp because they haven’t been put to the test.
Being authentic means being put to the test. It means breaking the cycle of ‘character versus reputation’. It means letting the two converge no matter how stupid or ugly we look. You start somewhere and you change what you don’t like. Fight the insecurity. Be a warrior. Life is tough. Admit that you have no idea what you’re doing, and that you make a ton of mistakes. Once you find the confidence to say, “this is who I am, and I’m getting better,” that’s total exposure. That feels embarrassing, but you’ll find that you’ll attract other people who seek authenticity in the process. You’ll become a catalyst of confidence for others, too; reminding them it’s okay to be lost or hurt. We find the greatest comfort in those who we believe are like ourselves. So, by being authentic, it becomes infinitely easier to grow, to connect with those who truly care for us, and to deal with our individual pain. Those who hide their weaknesses are more concerned with maintaining outward perfection than those who communicate their faults openly. Nothing can be said or done to the latter individual that would prevent them from fighting through life, because they have no false ideas to protect.
You’re a warrior. Act like one. And while you’re at it, if you’ve figured it all out, reach out to tell me how you’re doing because I’m still trying.