Sitting in the living room with my community group, I started sharing what I’d been learning about myself lately that I wasn’t a huge fan of and wanted to change. I’ve always struggled with sharing my true thoughts and speaking authentically, and I decided I didn’t want to live that way any longer. Ironically, as I was starting to share this with my group, I was interrupted. And then I was interrupted again. And then again. And again. By then, the conversation had so derailed that I just gave up.
As I walked back to my car by myself after group, I thought about what had happened and found myself growing increasingly frustrated. Frustrated with the girls in my group for not listening to what I had to say, and frustrated with myself for not pushing to make myself heard.
I decided to stand up for myself. When I got home that night, I sent a text to my group and shared with them that I was frustrated that I wasn’t heard. “… I’ve discovered how anti-conflict I am and how much I am constantly pursuing keeping the peace and making sure no one is mad at me or each other, so I wanted to say this in the spirit of trying to combat that in myself and not be so afraid to speak up for myself. I’m not mad.. I just wanted to be honest and take a step toward being better for myself.”
Knowing that I could be 100% authentic about how I had been feeling and that those feelings would be fully accepted is such a freeing feeling. Brene Brown shares this definition of authenticity in her book, “The Gifts of Imperfection”: Authenticity is a collection of choices that we have to make every day. It’s about the choice to show up and be real. The choice to be honest. The choice to let our true selves be seen.
Authenticity doesn’t come naturally for me… or anyone, I don’t think. It’s something that has to be practiced if it’s going to become a way of life. It is so easy to sit back, give everyone what they want, and tell yourself that your voice doesn’t matter- but that isn’t true.
Authenticity matters because you matter, and you matter because God created you in His own image. Giving yourself a voice means believing the voice God gave you matters. That alone is a good enough reason to practice authenticity, but that doesn’t mean it’s any easier.
Today, take a step toward authenticity by speaking up when all you want to do is hide. Every step you take in those moments will bring you closer to authenticity, to bravery, and to freedom.