Authenticity: Birthday Post


I wanted to write a generic birthday post. One with a list like, "27 ways to know I'm blessed" or "27 things I want to do this year". I wanted to be cheesy about the many things I learned, or about the amazing things I've done. About how grateful I am to have been able to experience another year to its completion.

I'm not going to do any of that today. I'm not going to write a post like that because that's what I've always done. I've written, spoken and made images filled with quotes and things people expect to read. I've tweeted things to purposely illicit retweets and replies. I wanted to cater my messages to an audience I needed to grow—that's what you're supposed to do: cater to your audience. But in doing so, I found myself losing a voice I was struggling to find and establish. I was forcing a voice that wasn't my own. I was losing myself in my own brand, my own creation, at the expense of trying to portray what I wanted to become. Who I wanted to become. That, however, is not how this works.

People are attracted to authenticity. They're attracted to genuineness. They don't care about what you want them to hear, what you ought to say, or who you want to become; they care about who you are, and using that person to spread a message. A message they need to hear. A message God wants you to deliver. 

Learning the truth about authenticity is what I spent the latter half of my summer doing. Recognizing that it's not about who you hope to be, or the you, you wish you convey. It's about being you—whether you've yet learned who that person is or not. You, as whole or as broken as you may be. It's about being unashamed of that confusion. It's about being genuine in that discovery of self, and not appearing to be found; it's not about being lost either though. It's just about being. 

You don't have to force yourself into a category. You don't have to "me too" your way through to fit in. You don't have to place yourself in a box. Authenticity isn't about boxes. Authenticity is about the doodle drawing that took over your blank page. It's the direction in which the lines were drawn—in no systematic way—just free and all over. No, it's not a box, or any other figure you created when you forced the lines in a direction you didn't intend them to go. Authenticity is the mess. It's the squiggly lines. It's the inability to 'fit' in a mold, and the desire you have not to. Authenticity is you. It's you without thinking about it. The thoughts you think without second guessing. And it's what people like most about a brand and a person.

In year 27, I vow to be my most authentic self. Being more of who I am, not who I ought to be. Saying more of what I need to and less of what I think I should. Falling freely from wherever the hell I will fall from, and writing, tweeting, posting and sharing about it once I hit the ground. I will be more of me in my brand, but most importantly in my life. I will not be ashamed to laugh at the jokes I think are funny; I will not restrict myself to the interests of those around me. I will not attempt to relate to those I simply do not; no more forced connections for the sake of having them. Because authenticity is sincere, it's honest, it's open. You cannot force that into a box—and I will no longer try to. 

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