PHOTO: IWASE YOSHIYUKI

“Authenticity is the daily practice of letting go of who we think we’re supposed to be and embracing who we are.
“Choosing authenticity means: cultivating the courage to be imperfect, to set boundaries, and to allow ourselves to be vulnerable; exercising the compassionate comes from knowing that we are all made of strength and struggle; and nurturing the connection and sense of belonging that can only happen when we believe that we are enough.
“Authenticity demands wholehearted living and loving—even when it’s hard, you’ve been when we’re wrestling with the shame and fear of not being good enough, and especially when the joy is so intense that we’re afraid to let ourselves feel it.
“Mindfully practicing authenticity during our most soul searching struggles is how we invite grace, joy, and gratitude into our lives….
“Choosing authenticity is not an easy choice. E.E. Cummings wrote, ‘To be nobody-but-yourself in a world which is doing its best night and day to make you everybody but yourself—means to fight the hardest battle which any human being can fight–and never stop fighting.’ Staying real is one of the most courageous bottles will ever fight…
“The thing is authenticity isn’t always the safe option. Sometimes choosing being real over being liked is all about playing it unsafe. It means stepping out of our comfort zone. And trust me, someone who has stepped out on many occasions, it’s easy to get knocked around when you’re wandering through new territory.
“It’s easy to attack and criticize someone while he or she is risk-taking—voicing an unpopular opinion or sharing a new creation with the world were trying something new that he or she hasn’t quite mastered…”
“As we struggle to be authentic and brave, it’s important to remember that cruelty always hurts, even if the criticisms are untrue. When we go against the grain and put ourselves and our work out in the world, some people will feel threatened and it will go after what hurts the most—our appearance, our lovability, and even our parenting.
“The problem is that when we don’t care at all what people say and we’re immune to hurt, we’re also ineffective at connecting. Courage is telling our story, not being immune to criticism. Staying vulnerable is a risk we have to take if we want to experience connection.
“If you’re like me, practicing authenticity can feel like a daunting choice—there’s risk involved in putting your true self out in the world. But I believe there’s even more risk in hiding yourself and your gifts from the world.
“Our unexpressed ideas, opinions and contributions just don’t go away. They are likely to fester and eat away at our worthiness. I think we should be born with a warning labor similar to the ones that come on cigarette packages: Caution: If you trade in your authenticity for safety, you may experience the following: anxiety, depression, eating disorders, addiction, rage, blame, resentment and inexplicable grief.
“Sacrificing who we are for the sake of what other people think just isn’t worth it. Yes, there can be authenticity growing pains for the people around us, but in the end, being true to ourselves is the best gift we can give to the people we love. When I let go of trying to be everything to everyone, I had much more time, attention, love, and connection with important people in my life.
“Dig deep. Get Deliberate: Whenever I am faced with a vulnerable situation, I get deliberate with my intentions by repeating this to myself: ‘Don’t shrink. Don’t puff up. Stand on your sacred ground.’ I think there’s something deeply spiritual about standing your ground. Saying this little mantra helps me remember not to get small so other people are comfortable and not to throw up my armor as a way to protect myself.
“…My friend Catherine Center says, ‘You have to be brave with your life so that others can be brave with theirs.”

 

~Brene Brown from her book The Gifts of Imperfection: Let Go of Who You Think You’re Supposed to Be and Embrace Who You Are