Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Authenticity is being true to oneself...when no one's looking and in spite of when everyone is. -E. Meara

Help! After much procrastinating and hand-ringing, I think I set myself up to potentially disappoint here. I've been stewing over this post for over a week now. So I'm taking Nik's (and ggg's before her) advice and just writing dammit!

First...training. A little running here and there, a bike ride straight thru the eye of a hurricane Sunday morning (thank God my computer is screwed up again because it would have been beyond discouraging to know exactly how slow I was going at maximum effort for almost 2 hours) and this morning almost 3000 yards broken into sets at race pace with more "fun" active recovery/near drowning laps thrown in. There were almost 20 of us in the pool today and during the fast sets the pool was completely silent, which usually is a tell-tale sign that we're all working pretty hard. Or it seemed silent; I couldn't hear much but my wheezing and the pounding in my ears. Maybe I'm exaggerating a little but I still came up short compared to several of the hairy Speedo-clad people. Eww.

So, getting naked. As opposed to nekkid. Sorry to disappoint...but it ain't all that. Not even close.

Disclaimer: Much navel-gazing to follow. Read at your own risk.

I read an article recently about authenticity. It really struck a chord with me because I've been doing a lot of work in the area of my own emotional honesty, or authentic self, and how I chose to present it, or communicate my truth. It has been an outstanding privilege and a joy for me to connect with people, both old and new over the past year. I have very willingly taken off my emotionally awkward clothes and allowed myself to be naked. Scary! Terrifying! Empowering! To decide what parts of my past I'm taking with me and to see clearer how I'm going to choose the truths that cover me and protect me in the future.

For the past year, I've been using the written word as the main mode through which I examine who I am and who I hope to become, and one of the reasons I chose writing is because words have always been a comfort to me. Sometimes I just like the way certain words go together and I like finding just the right combination that explains or allows someone to share in the experience of looking outward with me. I am often desperately hopeless when it comes to actually speaking in complete sentences which is why I love to wrap a thought in the perfect words that would otherwise rattle around in my chest and explode out of my mouth unchecked and uncensored. (and ungrammer-checked! Gah!). Sometimes I'm just testing the waters to see if I'm out of bounds or to see how I measure up. So I write to say, in my grammatically-incorrect, punctuation-optional way that I recognize that we all have feelings and hopes and insecurities. These, the ones I try to find some humor in, are mine. Take em or leave em. And I am completely okay with the fact that my truth may be completely different from the perceptions of others. Unless we have a dialog, you may be mistaking some fancy emotional clothes for pink-skinned, jiggly-assed nakedness. I’m okay with that. And I’ll still put words together and enjoy the fact that you read them.

The last few weeks it seems as though I’m particularly naked and I invite you to be brave enough to do the same. I’m actually a little surprised at what I’m seeing in the mirror. I wonder if it’s possible to be too exposed, too vulnerable. I’m working on it.

Oh, and it turns out, I have a wickedly inappropriate sense of humor. So there’s always that to fall back on if you get bored with the truth.

Bitch, please.

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"Bitch please" - I will never tire of that!

Isn't being naked great? Empowering you say? Damn straight! The written word provides the ability to step out of the awkward shyness that some of us have.

From my own perspective, I have revealed far more than I ever dreamed - and much more than I ever would admit to in a face-to-face setting. Yet when those stories flow from the fingertips onto the keyboard, it's surprisingly refreshing. It is what it is, right? Why not let it all hang out for all to see sometime? Of course you occasionally run the risk of "too much information." But that's a small price to pay for all the positive aspects it can lead to.

I'm naked. And it's wonderful.

9:06 AM  
Blogger mimikatemom said...

Not a stitch on ya Walrus. Save for an interesting little pink tank top. ;) The challenge for me is to have the some kind of naked confidence when I'm not behind the keyboard. Here's to letting it all hang out!

9:50 AM  

Naked confidence in the real world is tough - for me anyway.

I get reminded of that pink tank top often. Oh the joys of alcohol.

10:15 AM  
Blogger Kevin Charnas said...

I actually find that the more exposed and vulnerable I make myself, the more empowered I become. It's like, "Here I am, in all my freakyness" and then I realize that I'm still standing here. And everything is alright.

And of course, in my book, wicked-warped sense of humor is key to survival. birds of a feather, my friend?

10:33 AM  
Blogger Oh, The Joys said...

I'm either getting NEKKID or getting in my speedo.

11:32 AM  
Blogger jennifer said...

keep it real erin!!! how courageous of you. my tai qi teacher always reminds me to wear the face i was born with. i love those words. the more i read and reconnect with you and your nakedness the more i fall back in love with my grade school buddy!!! your awesome. i love that you have daughters to observe this about you.
one thing i am struggling with lately is i stay true to myself however i still worry about what people think about me. i know i am not the average joe, nor do i ever want to be. i chose a path of making my mark totally different than most of the kids i grew up with, although i love where i am at, my true self, i can't shake my fear of being "weird"....i'm not sure how other people feel about this.....ummm, freaks unite?!?!!!!

1:04 PM  
Blogger Greg Pagel said...

Freaks do indeed unite, though not always by choice.

Erin, you've always seemed like one of the most sincere and genuine people I know. I offer as evidence the fact that the more you try to write nakedly, the more I find myself thinking, "Yup. That's the Erin I knew 20 years ago."

Be you, comrade.

11:27 PM  

Oh yes. Oh yes. Freaks unite indeed! I need someone to play with.

10:04 AM  
Blogger Nicole said...

I have no idea how to be naked (that is, the naked you are referring to). It's quite suffocating.

Does everyone go through this "I don't know who I am or where I belong or what I want out of life" phase right before they turn 30?

7:10 PM  
Blogger Lisa said...

"wear the face you were born with." I love this!

What a great post. You've certainly made me think about exposure -- does it strengthen us? I hope so.

I enjoy your confidence.

6:17 PM  
Blogger GMAFB said...

Being authentic is not something that a person thinks about. They don't realize they are being authentic when no one is looking or when everyone is. They either are or they are not. Authenticity is not something that can be turned on or off. It is definitely not something that can be fabricated by consciously selecting the things we think are neat and cool from people we know and don't know and say - "I'm going to add that to my authenticity". Authenticity can in part come from and is typically shaped by those around us, however, those things that make us authentic (if we are in fact) are not knowingly fabricated by us. It can't be contrived or staged, but some love to anyway - "see me".

8:52 AM  
Blogger mimikatemom said...

I disagree GMAFB, the article I was reading was a philosophical one and the definition is: Authenticity is a technical term in existentialist philosophy. In this philosophy, the conscious self is seen as coming to terms with being in a material world and with encountering external forces, pressures and influences which are very different from, and other than, itself. Authenticity is the degree to which one is true to one's own personality, spirit, or character, despite these pressures.

10:48 AM  
Blogger GMAFB said...

I didn't realize that it was in an article, a philosophical one at that. How can one argue with that?

If it's too conscious, it loses it's authenticity.

You can't wake up one day and decide to be authentic or authentic again. It doesn't work that way.

It is what it is and you are what you are. You can strive to be better, you can be better. You can strive to change things, you can change things. It won't make you any more authentic, but depending on the changes, it could make you less authentic. At the end of it all - it still is what it is and you are what you are.

You can't run from it. You can't hide from it. You can improve upon it, you can screw it up (more), you can embrace it.

9:23 PM  
Blogger JJ said...

This post really hit home with me. I definitely think being authentic is something EVERYONE can work on. I think that most people wish to be more of "themselves," but like
you recognize, there's a lot of fear with "putting it all out there." I don't think you either "are" or "aren't". Since we are constantly learning and evolving, we have to constantly work on making sure that the way we present ourselves is honest, be it good or bad. Who are we without outside influences, without ulterior motives? It's a lifelong process. My experience has been that the more you do it, the more you get accustomed to it, and you come to realize that it's not as terrifying as it once was.
You, my friend, are one of my favorite people, and when I met you, the first word that came to mind was "sincere." (and "hot.")
Cheers to you, mate!

8:10 PM  

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