Authenticity: Being True But Growing Too

The other day at work I got the news that my desk was to be moved. Not the most tragic of news, or even bad news at all. In fact, I ended up with a great desk, still near the window and near people I like to chat with. All good stuff.

But I still felt weird, what with my overactive fight-flight reflex. I spent a few weeks feeling disoriented. I'm not asking for sympathy here, but just trying to make the point that I knew I was going to feel this way. I've become more aware of myself as I've careened through the ups and downs of adulthood and I know that I'm an anxious person – and part of this is that physical change does affect me. (This might be a good time to read an older blog of mine called Baby 19, where I discuss an ice cream shop touring opportunity I sadly missed at the age of five).

Knowing myself, knowing why I react to things the way I do, knowing what it is I prefer and what I don't like – that's what authenticity means to me. I believe it's about being true to yourself and not trying to be something or someone you're not. Such as trying to avoid situations where you have a boyfriend who surfs and suddenly you need to buy yourself a wet suit.

That said, I'm glad I tried surfing (badly) in the freezing cold water in Ireland. And one of my friends got good use out of the wetsuit during her two-year trip to Australia.

So where does accepting yourself as you are meet pushing yourself to try new things and be someone you never thought you could be? Where is it productive to be true to yourself and where does it harm you?

When you push yourself to do something that you know is tough for you, it gives you a small bit of insight into what life could be like if you weren't so scared or didn't create arbitrary limits. Sometimes it may reinforce your belief that something isn't for you – perhaps you actually don't enjoy it and it shouldn't be a priority. But occasionally, doing something that's a challenge – and even possibly making a fool of yourself – is a great experience to have. It keeps you humble and from taking yourself too seriously.

And that's what authenticity is about. Keeping it real (ha, ha). Knowing who you are but also being open to expanding that definition from time to time. For example, you could move desks every once in a while.

When I moved to London nearly nine years ago it was terrifying and lonely and it took a few years to actually feel like I fit in and that I was part of my adopted country. And although I still don't like pre-made sandwiches, I can complain about the weather like an old pro. More importantly, I learned that I can push myself to do new scary things, in spite of my anxiety. And by living on my edge, I got to know myself pretty well, which in my opinion is what authenticity is about. It's trying to get closer to your truth – whatever it may be.

This post is part of the Self-Discovery, Word by Word series. Katie at Health for the Whole Self kicked it off this month with 'authenticity'. Click here to read more about it or get involved.

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  1. Really, really wonderful post. It's good to remember that being true to myself doesn't mean being rigid or inflexible. Rather, it means being open to new experiences and having a willingness to be myself even as I change. Great insights! So glad you participated!

  2. "When you push yourself to do something that you know is tough for you, it gives you a small bit of insight into what life could be like if you weren't so scared or didn't create arbitrary limits."
    Wow! I love this! Such an inspiring thought...
    This is really a great blog you've got going here, Taron :)

  3. Taron, loved your surfing story, and the idea of knowing yourself yet - gently - gorwin and testing your limits. Sometimes you don't KNOW what you can do until you try.

    P.S. Likin' your blog template. ;-)

  4. Megascension--thanks for stopping by! That's one of the things that's so great about the word-by-word series, I keep discovering interesting new bloggers!
    Writing Goddess--not only do we have the same template, but your writing blog has the same template as my book group's! Looking forward to reading more from you. I wasn't aware of OCPD before -- the fact that is is different from OCD.

  5. I really enjoyed this post. When I let my fear dictate my decisions, I ended up sitting in movie theaters by myself literally all day, eating until I couldn't stand up straight. Food and movies were safe; interacting with other people wasn't. Learning to walk through fear and try new things has made my life so much happier and healthier. Glad it's helped you, too. :)

  6. Heather - thanks for sharing your thoughts. Walking through fear is not an easy thing to do. But I've never regretted taking a risk, so that's a really good motivator!


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