Tuesday, April 28, 2009


“The authentic self is the soul made visible”
- Sarah Ban Breathnach

Conversation with a friend tonight turned to the subject of authenticity. It is a word that is often used on these pages of ours. We struggle for it, we talk about it, we admire it, and rather bizarrely it is also something we try to emulate. But is authenticity something you can find or create? Is it something you have to learn or do we just have it? And how can we tell if it is... authentic or not?

You can usually tell when someone is new to blogging. It is often obvious that they have been reading blogs for awhile. It's the lingo that gives them away. I know this because I did the same thing. I knew what sort of people I wanted to meet and I tried to leave comments that would entice them back to my blog. Very quickly I learned that it was too hard to pretend to be something I am not. As soon as I started leaving comments that were more like me and less like everyone else I started to make friends. I started being authentic.

Authentic is your voice. Authentic is your essence. Authentic is the you that you are in your head. It is honesty about what you stand for and what you want to say. It's not the nuts and bolts of your every day, or what you think people want to hear. You know authenticity when you see it. It's the reason that some blogs 'resonate' (there's that lingo again) and some blogs don't. If someone is being authentic, they give us permission to do the same. It's only natural to want that.

So back to my question. Is authenticity something you have to learn or do we just have it? I've come to think that authenticity is something that you must lean into. It's something that you have to stand at the edge of and test over and over again until you are comfortable with the view. It's about knowing who you are and being okay with that, warts and all. If you can do that, write from that place, and stop trying to be like anyone else, you will find what we are all looking for.

I'll keep leaning into it if you will.


Susannah said...

love, this is such an amazing post. i actually don't have the words to contribute cos i am so very tired this evening, but i am leaning with you, baby, all the way x

Susannah said...

ps. i really resonate with this post too ;)

Vivienne said...

i'll lean too...

i totally love this post...especially the last paragraph...and i find that authenticity is one of those things that can constantly be worked towards...once we find a certain aspect of our authentic selves we may also realize that if we leaned into it even more we'd find an even deeper understanding of it!

you've got me thinkin' lovely!

3rdEyeMuse said...

beautifully written, Megg ... I agree with your take on authenticity, though I would probably add practice to the mix of leaning.

ps - I will.

Sarah Stevens said...

I think it's interesting anytime people (including me) talk about knowing themselves, or finding themselves, as if one can ever truly be known or found, like a set of keys. I struggle with the idea of a stable self---something which isn't in constant flux, ever evolving. If being authentic means expressing yourself from a place of stagnation, of solidity without the ability to expand or contract, then I'm not so sure it's such a good thing to lean into. But if what you mean is something more along the lines of "allowing"---meaning being open to what is happening for you in the moment, and flowing with it, not forcing, then I absolutely agree that is something to be wholeheartedly leaned in to. =0)

Just a little postmodernist philosophy to contemplate.

---Rebel Cat

amy said...

very nicely said. a number of the blogs that i love to read use language and tone in a way that is very different from my own style of communicating. given that a huge part of the appeal of their blogs is a strong sense of character and individual spark, it's quite funny that i would ever be tempted to mirror their expressions.

Jo said...

Leaning with you too.
Authenticity is foremost in my mind right now as I hunt for my own voice in a new field. I think being authentic comes naturally to some but for others it takes great courage, great patience and a great many wrong turns! I talk about hearing 'the click' when I know I'm on my authentic path and in the past I've spent months and years losing hope that I'll ever hear it again.
My point is...it comes.
It's achievable for all of us but it's an ongoing practice. How's THAT for blogtalk?!

Genie Sea said...

I tend to think authenticity is something you have to learn to express. Most of us have been raised and influenced to subjugate our true selves.

Then, for some, there comes the journey back to who we are, to believing who we are is fantastic, and cannot be subjugated.

I agree. Authenticity rings a clear bell. You can't fake it. You can't buy it. You can't force it.

You can strive for it. Be it. Live it.

sas said...

This really resonated with me. I am about to go Unravelling with Susannah and I have been thinking a lot about what authenticity and identity and self mean to me.

I thought at one time that I would find myself suddenly (and this would probably happen while travelling through an exotic country). I have come to realise that my authentic self is being revealed and developed over time.

I know that my experiences and realtionships are moulding and testing me all the time; forcing me to ask - who am I ? What is important to me? Am I brave enough to tell my truth? Am I being authentic?

I agree that you do need to lean into it. And I know that when my defences were thinnest, when I was at my rawest places, when I glimsped into the abyss - that's when I have felt my truest, most wuthentic self. That's when I found my voice.

Brandi said...

wow this is a powerful damn post.

I did the exact same thing-I really resonated (ha!) with some blogs and because I did, I thought that was somehow how I should communicate too.

what I learned is this: yes, in a way I had to learn to be authentic. Which sounds counter intuitive. But my whole life was about trying to be whatever would get people to like me so it was definitely a learning process to figure out what I was really trying to say.

thank you so much for this post-it's amazing. As are you.

pen* said...

what a powerful post. it certainly hit all the buttons! i recognise so much of myself in your words there...

i like that you say, "authenticity is something that you must lean into" - makes it a little less scary and a little more attainable.

i guess you just need to trust you won't fall... :)

Julie Merrett said...

All I know is I'm very good at hiding behind the me that I think the world wants to see. That mask that I think will stop me getting hurt.

Authenticity for me is when I dare to lower that mask a little for people to see the real me... whether that be through my creativity, in friendship or in the smile I give to a stranger. I guess I become more authentic as that mask lowers and I risk who I am... but it always amazes me that the more risk I take the more I feel seen and loved.

Jeanneoli said...

Beautifully said. It is so easy to see authentic in another person and I am beginning to see that others see that same thing in me. I really want to lean into it!!!!

Melba said...

Megg this is such an interesting post. There have times I have judged others by their actions, but now I try to pull back and see the big picture and know that we all want the same thing...to be loved. I think the path to authenticity is a continous journey.

Love the new look of your blog.

Jennifer White said...

This made me think. I like that...first visit to you through Susannah's post today.

Authenticity... I think this is something that all of us have within us, but it's how we choose to use it, evoke it, display it...as to what makes each one of us original and authentic.

I am still growing in to my authenticity at age 41. What may qualify as authentic to me, may be completely different to someone else. I do like the thought of that though since individuality plays such a large role in how I coexist with people in my life.

I believe I could continue on these thoughts for quite some time tonight.. but I will end with thanking you for leaving me with such grand, inspiring thoughts before I fall asleep.

I look forward to visiting your words again very soon....

Schmoops said...

I think being authentic is just another way of saying sense of identity. Which, to me, just means taking off the masks that we all have put on at one time or another and finding out what our personal belief system is and what we stand for ~ which is a continuous journey. When we are willing to get naked as it were and remove the masks is when we start to find our integrity. Removing these masks is what makes us vulnerable, but also after time more fearless.

For some it happens sooner than for others. I am just now taking my masks off at 40. So to answer your question, I think it's both. We are all individual thinkers so we all possess an authentic quality, we just have to learn that it is there for us to reveal and bring to the forefront.

Graciel @ Evenstar Art said...

Loving this post and leaning with you. For me, it took entering my forties to have enough courage to speak from my true voice. I had the truth in me earlier, and spent countless years learning more truth, but the voice, in the form of my blog,as one example, emerged when I cared less for the opinions of the world.

Thank you for your sweet comment. :)

enchantedartist said...

Incredible...It has taken me years and years...but I think I am getting to that which is really 'me'...

Thanks for this post Megg...


Amber said...

This IS a great post to make one think... I agree with many of these thoughts in answer, here.

I think being authentic comes mostly from being willing to allow people not to like you, or be happy with you or your truth. I think a lot of it has to do with being okay with maybe being "alone" with yourself...Thinking of it like that, I think maybe some facts of my life were a gift to me in this way-- the constant moving, the needing to save energy for survival and self-protection, the crazy all around...I don't think I had energy to "pretend". What was, was. What is, is. Why not just be who you are, and if people don't like it, move one. Move on. Life is short.

For the record, I have always thought of YOU as very "authentic". I love your blog, because you are honest in your thoughts and journey. I appreciate that very much. ;)


Anonymous said...

Hi Megg ... my name is Marina from Australia and I have been reading your blog for a long time now, but have always been too nervous to reply, even tho there have been many pieces you have written that have just touched a chord with me.(resonated:)) Today, I just had to put 'finger to keyboard' and explain my AHA moment...it's this word authentic ... I have always said that I love a person who is honest... but I don't think that really explained it enough...I love people who are 'authentic' ... they are themselves... honest...no pretenses ...not afraid of being themselves. Thankyou for your blog... it truly enriches my life and others and oneday, just maybe... I will be courageous enough to start one of my own:)
Kindest Wishes

maddie said...

i feel just sharing yourself
in your own voice with your
own desires and fears and
curiousities and passions

when they are y o u

are felt and resonate

so beautifully

you can feel it

i feel you

you are fresh and so so so


m e g


Jessie said...

i just love you. i wish i could give you a big hug. i can't even tell you how grateful i am to have a friend like you.

megg said...

I'm not sure if anyone will come back to read this but thank you everyone for your thought-full comments. I loved reading your takes on authenticity. And Dear Marina from Australia - thank you for your sweet comments and YES, DO start a blog! It's scary at first, but the connections you make and the changes you'll feel are more than worth the fear!


Renee Howell said...

just meeting you - omg - wonderful post! nice to sit and read you tonight from Colorado. I'll be back to visit again. Good following of friends - makes me smile across my face.

Jaime said...

Wow, I remember when I started my blog, I had to confront things like this, and I never saw it coming!
I wanted to be able to write as beautifully and with the kind of depth that other bloggers possessed. I worried all the time that I wouldn't be interesting enough, creative enough, etc, unless it was just like the blogs that I admired. And as time passed, I became more and more clear about what I wanted my blog to be and how I wanted to express myself. I realised that it wouldn't be a pouring of words as much as a sharing of images...with a few words tucked in. And I feel good about following my heart. It feels authentic.
And your blog has always felt authentic to me. I can see your personality shine through your words.
You are adored, dear Meg.

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