Archive for November, 2017

November 9, 2017

My Authentic Self

In the past week I have been told four times that I am authentic. Four times! And that people like me for it! Prior to this I’m not sure I’ve ever been told that.

The funny thing is that just before each person told me that I am authentic, I had been feeling extremely self-conscious for what I had just gotten done saying.

Then I realized, with each of those situations, I had exposed myself, not literally, but figuratively. I had put it all out there and then envisioned myself ducking out of the way, sheepishly looking in people’s eyes for their disapproval, only to be met with smiles and the words “you are authentic”. Each time I took it as a compliment, but couldn’t help but wonder, why now? Am I not always being my authentic self? Maybe.

Growing up, I was shy. An introvert. (Still am.) I didn’t really put myself out there. I didn’t express my thoughts and opinions on most subjects with anyone other than family and close friends. I was afraid to. I was afraid people wouldn’t like me for those thoughts and opinions and I carried this with me for a long time.

People who were in my inner circles have always known the real me, but people on the periphery? I let them believe whatever their preconceived notion was.

A few years ago (that’s Kate-speak for I have absolutely no recollection when, but know it wasn’t in the recent past) I read something that highlighted the irony of what I’d been doing. I had been sheltering my real thoughts and feelings from most people I would meet, fearing if they knew what I really thought, they wouldn’t like me. I know I said this earlier, but I’m saying it again because the thought is ridiculous. If I was afraid they wouldn’t like me for who I was, why did I want to connect with them in the first place? By doing this, every conversation was uncomfortable because I didn’t say what I really thought, others made assumptions as to what I thought because I hadn’t expressed a difference in opinion in prior conversations and then they made more assumptions that I agreed with everything they said.

At one point in time this happened with my boss. She made assumptions about me, my thoughts and opinions, even my political viewpoints and assumed they were the same as hers, when in reality, I was pretty much on the opposite side of the spectrum, but afraid to speak my mind because I was afraid those differences could effect my relationship with her and ultimately my job. So I let it go on. Until one day I couldn’t. Unfortunately my timing stunk because another co-worker of mine was with us. I probably should have said something when it was just the two of us, but I didn’t. Lunch was going fine until the conversation turned to polĂ­tics. This was in the time frame when a woman from Alaska was running for office. My boss thought she was awesome. Me? Not so much. Although I was excited for a woman to be running for office, I thought she had just fallen off the crazy train and I didn’t want her representing me as a woman. So I voiced that. And my boss looked at me as though I had betrayed her. She thought, and assumed, that because I was a woman and because I hadn’t said anything differently in previous conversations, that I was in support of Crazy Train too. It wasn’t true. And I finally spoke my truth. I’m not sure why I waited for that moment. Maybe because my friend was with us, maybe because my soul had been screaming for so long that it couldn’t be silenced any longer, whatever the reason, it came out of me like a cat in a bathtub. And then I felt guilty. Guilty for not saying something earlier, guilty for having what I didn’t say, be a betrayal of friendship and good working relationship. Guilty for not being authentic from the beginning.

That may have been the turning point for me to always honor myself. I would love to say it was a conscious decision, but the reality is that it is something that evolved over time and that particular story had been sitting on a shelf, covered in cobwebs in the back of my mind until I started writing this.

Now I try to be conscious to share my thoughts and opinions and honor who I am, not only with my inner circle, but with everyone.

Being authentic is tough sometimes. It means exposing myself when I don’t know my audience and how they will respond. It means talking when sometimes I would rather not. But it also means I am at peace with myself. I’m being me. Authentically me and that feels good.

Kate

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