Authenticity = ?

My latest curiosity on being authentic.

Hey, long time no newsletter!

Promise, I haven’t been giving you the silent treatment. There are far better reasons for not publishing a Staying Curious letter for several weeks (more on that in a sec).

For the last handful of months, I’ve observed a more authentic narrative from the masses. It seems the implications of 2020 have set the stage for more “real talk.”

But what is authenticity?

In an exchange with my friend Emily, she asked what it means to me. I turned around and posed the question to Twitter, which sparked some thought-provoking conversation:

Some terms stuck out to me in these replies:

Unique, unapologetically yourself, integrity, alignment, real self, acting in accordance with your principles, despite your audience.

Quote of the letter

I recently recalled a piece of paper my mom had taped to her mirror when I was a kid. It said:

What other people think of you is none of your business.

Being inauthentic stems from wanting to please others. But we can’t actually know what other people want, because we don’t know what they think. And it’s none of our business, anyway.

So, what if we didn’t do things for likes and approbation? What if we just did what we felt intuitively pulled to do? Even if we think people will like us a certain way, we never really know what they will think. We’re not in their heads. So why bother trying?

A personal example

Actually, I have two.

  1. I don’t like weekly or daily emails. There, I said it! I’ve been fighting it because I know many people who do like them, and mentors encourage me to send newsletters consistently to build trust. I hear them, but I don’t see how sending a newsletter at the same day/time periodically merits a more trusting audience.

    I don’t feel guilty for an irregular newsletter schedule because you guys get enough email as it is. Sure, maybe I’m missing out on some opportunity, and I’m not pushing myself to publish routinely. But it’s because doing that doesn’t feel authentic to me — it feels like just playing the game. So that’s why I don’t send this letter out regularly, and I don’t plan on it.

    That’s not to say you shouldn’t send yours out weekly or daily if you want to! Do what makes sense to you.

  2. I published a bite-sized thought recently, using a different estilo than my usual. I’m revisiting a poetic and metaphorical style, which is how I wrote when I got into writing as a kid. I’m also peeling back layers of myself, digging into my vulnerabilities, and writing with my heart on my sleeve more.

I’m prepared to be fully wrong about all of this. I’m constantly surrounded by people who are smarter than I am. I look forward to being surprised and enlightened by you.

I’m aiming to let my creative side reflect who I authentically am. I want my work to flow in alignment with my intuition. I’m not worried about fitting into who you think I should be. While I hope you enjoy this newsletter, I won’t be offended if you don’t! We can’t all be everyone’s cup of tea.

Tout Oublier

Take this delightful example of authenticity: Angèle is a Belgian pop-star. She released this video with her brother, Roméo Elvis, a famous rapper, in 2018.

You don’t have to understand French to laugh out loud at this video. She was 22 years old when she released this and it’s surpassed 110 million views on Youtube. Incredible!

Despite these staggering numbers, from the lyrics to the ridiculous scene of the clip, Angèle’s authenticity shines through. I don’t think she created this video in hopes to rake in the likes and fame. When I watch her videos and learn her lyrics, I perceive her as authentic. She embraces and promotes her weird side.

633,000 people liked this video. Maybe it’s not so weird to be weird, huh?

So, my current understanding of authenticity comes down to this:

Embracing my weird.

I encourage you to embrace yours.

Curiously yours,