|Markus Spiske, Flickr
"Oh, you purchased a brand new Lexus? You’re a published author?
Your job title is X and you earn six-figures? So what!"
In my quest toward authenticity, I have been pondering whether some decisions I make, and some actions I take, have more to do with what others expect of me than with what I, myself, want out of this life.
I can think of a few examples in my past:
- Hanging out with the "cool crowd" even if they are shallow, mean, or both (ah! the joys of Middle School);
- Trying to behave like a full-force extrovert when in fact I am more of a - friendly - introvert: I love to chat and make connections, but I prefer one on one or structured interactions (such as when I teach or give a talk) to big parties, and I need a lot of alone time;
- Trying to look "feminine" when in fact I have a slightly androgynous disposition: I feel like a clown in frills, dresses, heels, busy jewelry, heavy makeup, or complicated hairdos;
- Trying to go for a scientific career path when in fact I thrive in languages and humanities; in the same vein, making career choices based on prestige + earning potential when in fact my true calling (and a balanced lifestyle) resides somewhere else;
- Refraining from expressing certain opinions or feelings for fear that people would disagree or disapprove;
- Showing off my accomplishments or possessions;
- Generally trying to get people's approval and "impress" them, instead of just going for what feels good and feels right.
Indeed, my mindset used to be along the lines of "your accomplishments (and your looks) = your worth as a person". Not just any accomplishments, either. Mostly the ones that have to do with wealth and prestige. I had never questioned it until I met the future father of my children, who, despite earning the right to put Dr before his name and a string of letters after, never made any fuss about it, and barely ever mentioned his accomplishments. I was impressed, not so much by his credentials, but by his sincere humbleness.
Nowadays I strive to nurture my authentic self, even if that means less overall approval or admiration. I still value good manners, kindness, and personal hygiene, but other than that, I avoid worrying about "what will people think". When I do "show and tell", I do it to inspire, not to impress - which means I approach it in a very different manner, and for very different reasons.
So my question, today, is the following:
If nobody's opinion ever mattered whatsoever, what would your life look like right now? What, about it, would be different?
Would you have the same job?
Would you live in the same place?
Would you hang out with the same people?
Would you date the same person?
Would you have the same hobbies?
Would you own the same objects?
Would you dress/talk/behave the same way?
Mindfulness this Week
What are you ready to change for the sake of authenticity?
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