This is weird!
I haven’t written out my thoughts or talked to y’all in over 7 months. My last post was December of last year; a Holiday gift guide which is hardly a “post” and certainly not authentic. I’ve been alive and kicking on social media (again…not always authentic) but just haven’t had the time or energy to do anything else (totally authentic). But here I am with this need to speak again and own my thoughts, bare my soul, and purge.
So, where have I been? 2016 was a rough year for me and I haven’t been ready to talk about it and be honest until now. There was a cloud that hung over me and our house that seemed to grow through the year as oppose to dissipate. It was the most difficult time I’ve gone through since the death of my mother in 2009 and brought back a lot of bad memories, new questions, and pain. I won’t go into too many specifics but suffice it to say I stopped speaking to a family member, struggled with “life” and “career”, questioned friendships, and became really insecure and self-conscious. Being sad and unhappy became really easy…putting on a front even easier. I began to take EVERYTHING personal; like clearly everyone was out to get me right!? It was a global conspiracy! This was me…plunging lower and lower…without even focusing on the real issues.
My husband has called it paranoia…I call it learned behavior. Therefore on January 1st of 2017 (after I tearfully and happily flipped 2016 the bird) my husband decided that I needed (besides God/prayer) a motto to help guide me through these next 12 months. That motto is to ‘live authentically.” Authentic, in my opinion, means not changing who you are for other people…but at the same time not expecting others to change for you. I have always been a confident and outgoing person (I mean shit, I survived and thrived during my college/sorority years), but I’d lost the ability recently to be authentic…fearlessly authentic.
This is scary!
Being authentic is doable, but doing it fearlessly is hard…it’s scary. I wanted to focus on what mattered this year; my faith, family & career. And, If you’re like me (always caring too much what others think) then you never know how other people are going to respond. Interestingly enough, this morning, as I sat in my quiet house (kids both at camp/school) I began to reflect on the first half of the year and my goal of being authentic. I began scanning my social media too (the authenticity compass, #eyeroll, #guilty) and was shocked. Where has the authenticity gone in our lives and culture? The more I check my IG and Facebook pages the more I dislike them…and dislike people.
I understand that people grow and friendships change, but before social media you knew (or thought you knew) where you stood with people. Before social media I didn’t know when I was being left out or not included in that lunch, book club, girls night, etc… Before social media I didn’t even know that I had been completely cut out as a friend. Social media is every passive aggressive, mean girls dream! People were more authentic before social media simply because there was no other way to be; when you cared about a person you reached out in person and based your relationships off how you genuinely felt about them, and vice versa.
A lot of the insecurities regarding my relationships and need for authenticity stemmed from the relationship (or lack thereof) with the family member I have cut out. It’s true that no one knows what goes on behind closed doors and only a few people know the real story. Everyone has their own issues…so I internalized everything because that was easiest. I have chosen not to speak to this person because I’m being authentic to myself; they were toxic for a long time. I made (and continue to make) the conscientious decision not to contact them, and they do not try and contact me in return. I do not know if they are also being authentic with their feelings (I doubt it), but that’s not what matters when you are focused on living fearlessly authentic. I can’t be worried about whether or not they think of me, are sorry for what they’ve done, or even care. Fearlessly means making choices based on my own truth, regardless of how someone perceives my behavior.
This is hard!
And as hard as it’s been, I have to apply this same attitude to friendships as well. As I reflect back on the first half of this year I am proud of the strides I’ve made. Being authentic is somewhat of a relief…like I’ve given myself a break. When something/someone hurts my feelings (because the insecurity doesn’t just magically disappear over night) I ask myself…how do I feel? Why am I really feeling this way? Do I have a right to feel that way? Are my feelings authentic? The old friendships that remain are strong. The new friendships I’ve made have been genuine and truly authentic. Removing the toxicity has been a relief.
My husband has always said to me that if you are authentic and true to yourself, then the people who really matter will be drawn to you naturally; they’ll care just as much and meet you half way. And what I’ve really learned this year is that if you are true to yourself then your friendships will be worthy. You shouldn’t have to try hard for someone to be your friend…a relationship by definition takes two, and should be equal. If you give 100 all the time, then the person on the other end doesn’t really care about your relationship and isn’t being authentic; do each of you a favor and let them go. This can be done maturely and without harboring any negative emotions. You shouldn’t apologize for being true to yourself. And if you have ever struggled with anything similar…I encourage you to dig deep, evaluate what really matters, and try to live fearlessly authentic too!