An authentic person shows you exactly who she or he is. No pretending. No performing. No exaggerating. No bull.
Well, that’s my experience anyway.
Authentic people are: What you see is what you get (a phrase some relate to wysiwyg, pronounced: whizzywig. An acronym with an authentic story all of its own. But I’ll leave that extra bit of research to you). I’m using the phrase in the way Flip Wilson’s Geraldine used it: a ‘plain-speaking person with no hidden agenda’. I’m a big fan of straightforward people who aren’t pretending to be anything but who they are, warts and all, with no nonsense and no secret order of business.
For me, one of the perks of knowing authentic people, is the ease of being I feel when I’m with them.
And as a bonus, when the authenticity is reciprocal… when I am present and wholly genuine… well… the overall experience can be a bit like an elixir… a sweet remedy that removes the ill effects of all that past “trying to fit in to be accepted”.
If you’ve spent time with a notably genuine person, and have offered them the same of yourself, you know the feeling I’m talking about; the calm, comfort that comes with being completely who you are… each of you sincere and mindful.
The experience is extraordinarily refreshing, and definitely one of the more satisfying perks of knowing authentic people.
I know. I know. Authenticity isn’t always all good. I might admire the authenticity in a person, but that’s not the same as admiring the person. An authentic person might not even be likable. Like me, you probably know some inherently genuine people who make you cringe. And yet, no matter how often they might anger you or even repulse you, you always know where they stand. And in my opinion, that’s a perk.
Because, for me, no matter how much or how often another person’s opinions and beliefs may go against my own, their straightforward what you see is what you get character… will remain one of the reliable and consistent aspects of our relationship. And for me, that trustworthiness and undeniable authenticity, encourages me to be the same: genuine, dependable and clear. And then together, from within this place of mutual authenticity, we have the opportunity to make an honest and real connection. We have the chance to build bridges.
And bridges create a common point where people can meet, greet, debate and deliberate, and if all goes well… cooperate and flourish.
So, why do so many of us have such trouble being authentic? Why do we put so much effort into “trying to fit in to be accepted”? We even behave in this way when we are with our own family members. It’s an exhausting way to be, not terribly useful, often dissatisfying, and serves to promote the false belief of not being enough just as we are.
It should go without saying that I’m no therapist. I’m just a writer who has done a lot of self-reflection, and who spends a lot of time observing the behavior of people for the purpose of character-building for my stories. So, I’m not about to attempt any kind of analysis here.
But I’ll offer this about my own experience. When I was much younger, I didn’t want to be judged as not enough, and I used to loath the thought of rejection, let alone living it as an actuality.
I’d go out of my way to try to keep everyone happy, leaving little room for being authentically myself. It’s an anxious way to be, mostly just a set up for failure, and a sure sign of living way behind or ahead of the present moment.
I’m grateful to have evolved. But when I slip back into old habits; when I recognize that I’ve begun to forget that I am enough. I settle down. Literally. I settle into my body; the pull of gravity; the support of the ground beneath me. Whether I’m standing or sitting, walking or riding… I breathe with awareness and relax. Usually three good breaths are enough to fully settle. My shoulders relax, as does my jaw, my pelvis, and even my eyes.
And I am once again present… and authentic.
Sure, there are times when life is so fast and loud that I get caught up in the powerful flow of it all. And sometimes, I forget to settle. But, in time, after years of practice, even with the weight of my responsibilities, chronic pain, fears, worries, changes and other pressures… I can call up awareness… once more remember to settle… and again, be authentic.
An authentic person shows you exactly who she or he is. Being an authentic person yourself, is the greatest perk of all.