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What it Means to be Authentic

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“All this time I was finding myself, and I didn’t know I was lost.” A quote from a pop song on the radio, yet something that gives me chills when I hear it. That whole song by Avicii gives me chills. It rings true with a lot of what I have been experiencing as of late…Authenticity.
I have shared in the past how I am a recovering perfectionist. How my inner critic and inner perfectionist have wrecked havoc on my life for years. The more I begin to distinguish the voice of my perfectionist self and begin to silence her, the more of ME that gets revealed. Sometimes the real me that is revealed surprises me. For instance, I always claim that I am very organized and clean. It is something I have identified with, that people tell me I am good at and I have taken that on as part of who I think that I am.
Yet, once about 8 months ago my old roommate left town for a week and a half and I was the only one in the house. I had the kitchen looking like a war zone went through it, dishes every where, food messes that I had to leave because I was too busy to clean them up in the moment they were made. I was horrified at what I had done and it overwhelmed me that I could create such a mess. Instead of cleaning it, I became overwhelmed and created even more of a mess. I was on a roll. It was there and then that I discovered that I am not all that clean, or organized. Let me just say though (for the record ☺) that I make big messes and clean them up to a degree beyond clean! I was mortified at myself that I could create such a mess. Who was I, if I was not clean and organized? I will also add that it gave me great discomfort to be something other than who I thought I was. I felt shameful in a way. Like I had to make an excuse for why it happened, I was too busy to clean up in that moment, etc.
Lots of other examples have ensued since. Like being late and coming in with some huge reason why, feeling like I had to explain to whoever I was late to how crazy my life is and that there is a reason for my obvious lack of perfection. That that was NOT who I was and there was a good reason for it. I have to say that I can put on a real Oscar Award winning performance for some of these reasons. True or not it is all bullshit. It is all me trying to go against who I am in reality. It is all me being not authentic.
Who I am is someone who does not have it all together, although I love to appear as though I do. Being on time, organized, clean, neat and pressed, who always looks perfect, with her hair done just right, clothes perfect, etc. I am not always this person. Sometimes I am, but not always. And it is those times that I am not that person and I get really down on myself for being late, for spilling my tea all over my car and myself (this has happened more times than I want to admit) for making a mess, for not getting everything done, and for not being “perfect”, it is those times that I don’t love myself and that part of me-that really is me-feels shame. It is a horrible feeling. Like some part of me is the evil mom saying “you are not good enough, come on Erin do better!” It feels hollow and dark and very unloving.
Am I saying give yourself an excuse for being a slob? Maybe, maybe not. If that is who you are then you better learn to love that part of yourself and hire a cleaning person to tidy up your life. Make little changes that feel good to you, but please do not beat yourself up for not being “perfect.” That is something that does not exist and the more I hated that part of myself, the more “messes” I seemed to make.
My mantra as of late, having 3 jobs, in between places to live and driving all over an already crazy city has been, “I’m doing the best I can right now.” I cannot tell you how much that mantra saved me and really helped me put my inner perfectionist to rest. The minute she would pipe up about me messing something up, I would say that and everything got quiet again. I found peace in it.
It was only last week that I discovered and finally admitted to myself that I don’t have it all together all the time and that is OK. What does that even mean to be “together” anyway? Also something I created in my mind. It is all a made up perception and is not real.
The truth is that I can be clumsy, messy, say something off beat, not look perfect, late, not get everything done, but I can also be graceful, clean, say the right thing, look great, on time, get everything done and be fabulously me at the same time! I can be it all and I am it all. And however it shows up in the moment is the only sort of Perfect that I need to think about. This to me is a whole new way to “Be in the Moment.” I have never looked at it that way; because I spent a way too long and some what painful existence trying to be something I was not, to prove to no one in particular, other than myself.
This has been one of the greatest discoveries of my life and yet the simplest and easiest to remedy. Truly loving me, even the messy parts, especially those parts.
I leave you with a quote on authenticity by Brene Brown, “Authenticity is being willing to let go of who you think you should be in order to be who you are.”
Thank you for letting me be authentically me.
What are you willing to let go of? Please share below.

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Erin McGuire


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