I’ve always been drawn to authentic people – the ones with solid confidence, clearly defined views and opinions, knowing what they want, with a vision and plan of action, yet soft, caring, understanding and accepting of others, without the need to convert me into their believes.
While having such an attraction to such people I never really thought of myself this way – there’s always been a lingering feeling that I’m not as confident, I do not possess clearly defined views and opinions, not always sure what I want; gauge myself against others to validate myself; or simply do not talk much about myself to avoid being vulnerable.
It’s been years of therapy, self-improvement work and practice that are finally paying off by changing my self-talk and reshaping my view of myself. My authenticity has always been there, just not always tapped into – hidden under the layers of self-defensive mechanisms.
What follows is a practical exercise, that you may find helpful in establishing your own authenticity. Here’s what I came up with and am proud to renounce my authenticity through these believes and values (I used to think they were bad, as in “shameful/less than/not worthy” and that I should not talk about them):
- I Love to Eat! Food is Love! I Celebrate Food! For many years the diet culture taught me to keep this secret to myself, and so I did – restricting, depriving, secretly bingeing, overexercising, obsessing with my weight and shape. What an internal conflict though – love for food and the need to hide it. I now openly talk about food and eating, I cook… a lot! I value quality foods, I appreciate food traditions. My authentic self has come out of the food stigma closet.
- I like to spend time alone – reading, writing, running, riding – by myself. And I need A LOT of TIME to do so. I am a bit selfish – as in I like to self-improve, self-reflect, self-teach, even cook for myself. This stuff takes time… sometimes away from my family. But only through realizing that this is who I am, not denying it, I am able to balance the time and needs of myself and my family in a way to satisfy us all.
- I have a short attention span. Not a learning disability, I excelled in school, rather lack of desire to “waste” time on stuff I don’t find interesting, useful or otherwise worthy. I quickly analyze whether the information I am receiving is in any way something I need, and if not – I’m gone: either physically or mentally, if there’s no way to flee.
- I don’t like politics. I don’t have interest in it, I often don’t understand it, even when I put in an effort to learn about it, just so I could carry on a conversation – the information does not stick. WLRN radio station in my car comes to the rescue with latest updates and unbiased liberal opinions… This is a tough one – even now as I type, my heart is beating faster – “what if they think I’m dumb?!”
- I am a control freak, stubborn, impatient, and particular. I get upset of the unknown, don’t like surprises, don’t share my kitchen with well-meaning relatives and friends and don’t like to follow recipes.
- I had an eating disorder. I suffered a lot and I learned a lot. I decided to use my journey back to “normal” to help others overcome their difficulties with food, body image and themselves.
It’s very freeing and liberating to spill these truths about myself. My weaknesses are my strengths now. I am my own friend and no longer an enemy. I walk with my head up and smile only when I really feel like it.