Being authentic in a status quo world is easier said than done.
Why is this such a big deal, to be authentic, and what does it mean?
Here’s the Oxford dictionary definition of authentic,
“of undisputed origin and not a copy; genuine.“
The etymology of authentic is from the late Latin, authenticus, meaning ‘principal, genuine.’
Being authentic means being an original and not a copy of anyone else.
But if feels like there’s a big problem with that.
Society for the most part does not want originality. Society wants status quo.
Governments want everyone to fall in line and to do what they’re told. Children go through a school system where everyone is taught in the same way, even kids who would do better with a different method.
Tradition is a priori status quo
Religions have their own sets of rules about how you should act. Fall in line and you go to heaven. Break the rules and you’ll burn in the fires of damnation.
Add a psychopathic zealot or fundamentalist into religion, and rules become so perverse that people start killing other people, even within their own tribe.
Many countries believe that their neighbours to the east or west are the root of evil, a propaganda state, or the wrong political persuasion.
Men should be men and women should be women with no crossing the line. Science and LGBTQ peoples will tell you otherwise.
A gay man, no longer wanting to be on the fringe, declares,
“I don’t want to be called gay, because I’m simply a man … full stop,”
Doesn’t it feel precarious, standing out on the fringes of society, while the mob of brainwashed neophytes march towards you with Nazi banners and burning Kiki torches?
There will always be followers
There are those who,
- Don’t want to lead
- Want to be told what to do
- Are happy with the way things are
Each of those statement is anathema to me. Sometimes I feel like an island and I can’t relate to the boxed-in towers I see on the mainland.
And here’s the paradox. We can’t subsist as islands. We need others.
Perhaps being authentic is to understand the value you can bring to the world, the gifts you can share, or your insights that can start a movement.
The timeline of authenticity
How long until you can become the best definition of yourself?
As long as it takes.
Recently I made a shift in my message, and as a result, my market. I was too much like everyone else in health, fitness, and coaching. I had little of value to say.
So I narrowed things down to what I know I love to do: writing and coaching. Then I got clear, rather I was reminded of who I am and was finally able to answer the question, “Darren, why don’t you work with gay men?”
I’m gay, but I forgot to BE GAY
Being gay is who I am. I’ve been exploring what that means most of my adult life. You’ll see the pieces of this puzzle in my writings on Th-Ink Queerly.
I long for a new tag on Medium: “gay personal development.” That sums up what drives me.
I want to be a better gay man. Not “better” in the sense of good vs. bad. But better in the sense of authentically validated, self-aware, proud, joyful, and unashamed.
How do you know if you’re being authentic?
If you have to ask — as the saying goes — you’re not being authentic.
When you’re an island you’re inauthentic.
When people comment on your latest post or video with, “I love this and the ease in which you now communicate,” it’s because you’re being authentic.
“Your audience is smart — they know when you’re into your words.”
– Tom Kuegler
You’ll also know you’re being authentic when your work, craft, or endeavour, feels effortless.
The production and performance of your core work will give you more energy than not doing it.
You will speak without having to worry about what to say next.
You will listen without concern for what you need to say.
You will feel like you have never felt before, without fear about who you are, or who you think you need to be.