An authentic life

How funny that today’s Daily Prompt is “Authentic.”  I’ve been thinking about that so much lately.  It even popped up (again) in my youtube feed from the School of Life.

The true and false self

Their opening statement is along the lines of “One of the most powerful explanations for why adults may have troubles is the that we were denied the opportunity to be fully ourselves.”   That seems to concisely and succinctly state my growing up years.

You see, anxiety rules my life.  I tell myself anxiety is just a portion of me, that “I” am me.  “Anxiety” is not me.  But anxiety takes up such a large part of my being that it almost swallows me whole at times.  This anxiety, a large part of which is social anxiety, restricts my actions and even thoughts to being “acceptable.”  Or unauthentic.

This anxiety tells me that *everyone* thinks I’m weird and undeserving of attention.  Undeserving of life at times.  I’ve had this anxiety since before I can remember.  Being the one on the playground too afraid to join in so I would stand on the side.  Being too afraid to talk to anyone but family.

So as I grew up, I learned to be unauthentic.  I learned (however falsely) that in order for people to like me, I *must* be fake.  I must put on a smile when my world is crashing down around me.  I must talk about the weather when I would really just like to eat lunch alone.  I must ask “How are you?” to each person I see in the tea room, knowing that the answer will always be “good.”

So, maybe driven by a need to start fresh, I moved across the world.  Temporarily, for school, but still its 4 years of my life.  And in this time, I’m learning to be more authentic.  I can’t say I’ve learned.  I’m just being introduced to the idea.

For me, this means…being me.  Being quiet, thinking, singing the same song to myself over and over all day.  Immersing myself in work, emerging when it suits me, not at tea time.  So yes, I skip meals and tea times, but I didn’t want to hear how “fine” everyone’s weekend was anyway.  Details, sure.  But that surface small talk…

It means enjoying photography.  It means computer coding for fun.  It means crocheting until I have 40 shawls made (yes…at least that many).  It means being simple on the surface, but complex when you look deeper.

These “quirks.”  I am learning to call them that, rather than weaknesses.  Because they aren’t.  I used to think so.  Because from what I knew of the world, the world valued sameness and normality. And I don’t fit that mold.  I am unique.  And I’m learning to accept that.  And maybe even like it.  IMG_0028.jpg

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