Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Just "Being Real"

I've talked before about the tension between authenticity and aspirational living, and the issue has come up for me again recently.  I'm in two moms groups, one for moms of preschool aged kids and one for elementary aged kids.  At the one for moms of preschool aged kids, there has been a great deal of focus on authenticity.   Things like: embrace your messy house, see your friends even if all you could manage to put on was your sweat pants this morning, get honest and be unapologetic about who you are!!!

While I couldn't agree with that message more, I also think there is a flip side to that coin.   I know someone who always says, "I'm just being real."  What she means, however, is that she is unwilling to change and if you want to be close to her, you'll have to accept that.  Acceptance does not mean complacence toward one another.  In fact, the very best relationships involve inspiring and challenging each other on a constant basis.  There's a subtle difference between "being real" and true authenticity.  True authenticity (as I see it) is an openness both to the messiness of who you are, but also a willingness to learn, change, and grow.  There has to be room in our lives for inspiration, aspiration, and challenge. 

Today, at my other mom's group, the speaker shared that someone had invited her to a dinner party.  A mutual friend who had also been invited gracefully declined by saying, "Sorry, going out in the evenings isn't working for us right now.  We are just enjoying being together and spending time alone at home." I love that statement.  No promises for a future get together.  No excuses for why they wouldn't be making it to the dinner party.  Just the truth.  To me, this is authenticity.  It is counter cultural and aspirational to set aside one (very good) thing for another.   But though the invitation was declined, the relationship was affirmed.  It frees others to be honest about their commitments- or it invites a more honest conversation about finding different ways to be together that meet everyone's needs.

So, what do you think?  Do you see this tension in your own life?  What does living authentically look like for you?  Do you see the difference between authenticity and "just being real?"

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