It was around the time I made the decision to walk away from my legal career, that one sentence buzzed around my thoughts. I wanted to have a childish tantrum, kicking and screaming “I WANT TO BE AUTHENTIC!!!”
At that point, I was pretty clear what wasn’t authentic to me in my life. I wasn’t true to myself. I had a toxic job in a toxic system that was stealing my life from me.
I had lost myself under the label of a lawyer and I was slowly being drained by the way I was earning money which tainted my feelings towards the material wealth I had worked for.
I felt a lack, a deep void within and desperate desire to be authentic yet no real idea at the time what an authentic life was for me. My soul was as dry as the cracked desert and my creative life non-existent. I was sick and tired of being sick and tired!!!!
I started to play what felt like a silly game where everything I came into contact with; food, people, places, I would try to sense (not think) whether it was authentic to me. Sometimes, I would imagine a set of traffic lights; green was authentic, red was a no go. I wasn’t really aware of it at the time but now I can see I was reaching inside and consciously testing my intuition. I brought my core values and beliefs to the surface to be worked over and modified.
What started out as a simple game, became a life changer for me. An absolute life changer! The more that I listened to myself, the more I became aware of what truly offended or pleased my soul.
My intuition was finally working in tandem with my intelligence and between the two; I slowly stripped away layer after layer of social conditioning, expectations of others, the fears that prevented me from being true to myself and the desire to be authentic.
For many years, as many people do, I had my inner self and my outer mask. The outer mask was there to ensure that I kept up appearance, acted normally and fitted in with the crowd. But it was so inauthentic! A definite red light, do not pass go! And I really didn’t want to be part of the crowd when it came down to it. Why, when I could be me instead.
These days, there is no mask; if I am happy I am happy. If not, I don’t hide it. If I’m in a mood, I stay away from others. I won’t use a mask to keep my feelings in check. I find it hard to spend time with people who still keep up the mask. I see the false layer through eyes of compassion but it makes me feel incredibly uncomfortable.
As my values and beliefs were stripped back to the core of what I stood for, the difficult part came in being authentic, standing in my truth and ensuring I remained so in my relations with others. Unfortunately, a lot of people don’t like change. I realised that some of my relationships and friendships had to transform/fall away to allow me to be authentic to myself.
Changing the status quo is the hardest part when others don’t want to change. There is often a subconscious demand that you stay the same. This demand must be ignored. This is the cost of an authentic life and a challenge which is often faced.
I also had the realisation that to be authentic, I had to take care of my own needs. I found in so many of my relationships that I was giving a great deal and this wasn’t being returned or that I took a great deal and wasn’t giving as much in return. There was no balance.
So many friends had an expectation that my role was to support them yet when I reached out to them for support, it was like I was asking for moon to be delivered to my doorstep and it was getting in the way of what they wanted from me.
As so few of my relationships were balanced where I received the emotional support back, I relied heavily on one person in particular to support me.
I took responsibility for the fact that I facilitated the relationships where I was giving too much and brought the energy back to myself. I’m sure others have thought I was being selfish, as I wasn’t fulfilling their needs anymore. The fact is; I was never there to fulfill their needs. I’m here to fulfill my own. By fulfilling my own, I have more space and energy to give support when it is genuinely needed and without draining my energy. It also allows those who used to rely on me to create space to develop their own way of fulfilling their needs.
So what started as a little game really was a transforming life experience. It was a slow path to finding my truth and a test to live it and no longer offend my mind, body or soul life. It takes a lot of self-awareness and discipline, saying no and holding my boundaries, ensuring I don’t step on others but a happier and healthier me has emerged.
And that my friends, has laid the foundations to begin building an authentic life. And I have finally decided to start living the life I imagined.
(c) Samantha Wilson 2016. All Rights Reserved.