In Praise of Authenticity


I have a friend who wore her mother’s long black wig, unbeknownst to her mom, to school in Grade 1. Wore it all day long. Now that takes balls. That’s what I call being authentic.

So many of us start our lives with a list of instructions, given to us by our parents, and then spend the rest of our lives trying to either follow them exactly, or dismiss them completely.

I started life in a large family, with a hard-working mother and father. I attended church every Sunday. I was expected to tow the family line, which was to be a fine upstanding citizen who respects authority and my elders. Be polite. Speak when you are spoken to. Be a good girl. Pretty common, right?

But I had a hard time staying within the parameters set out for me. For one thing, I’m not great at remaining silent while others…well, do anything, really. I’m just not great at staying silent. Period. I call a spade a spade, or what I see as a spade anyway. I can say shocking things to make people laugh. I love to swear. Also, I don’t respect anything or anyone because I’m told to. I’ll make up my own mind, thank you very much. Right or wrong. I guess I have, what you would call, a big personality.

For years, when I followed my natural inclinations and unleashed my exuberance, I would chastise myself afterwards. I loved quickly and deeply. I danced wildly. I kissed passionately. I told dirty jokes freely. I swore gleefully. And I always beat myself up for it. My very being did not mesh with my rules. I became a battered woman by my own hand.

After years of open war-fare, finally worn out, I waved a white flag. I decided to embrace my enemy. Me. And it turns out, I love me.  I realized that I am as I am because I need to be. My traits are my tools in this life. My forthrightness. My honesty. My creativity. My humour. I use them all to show love. Your kindness, your generosity, your patience, your silence….those are your tools. All are essential.

There are a million ways to be loved and to give love, so we need a million tools for the job. Actually, it’s probably more like 7 billion. 7.4 billion, at last count. We can each contribute with what we have, because what we have is perfect, just the way it is. It is exactly what is needed. We are, I believe, at our essence, beings of light and love. Our human traits allow us to express this essence as it was intended.

So maybe it’s time to discard the rules that state that one size fits all. Stop with the right and the wrong. The black and the white. Find the path that allows us to shine our light, and bring a bit more peace and love into this harsh world. I believe we need warriors and healers. Activists and pacifists.  Leaders and followers.

As for me, I’ll keep working on the discernment to recognize when a situation is or isn’t calling for my particular gift. And I’ll continue to weed out the old rules that no longer fit. They are always there, whispering to me. In the meantime, how about this. How about if you promise not to judge my big mouth, I’ll promise not to judge your silence. It’s a start.



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