How To Be Authentic 2.0

“Nobody cares how much you know until they know how much you care.”

My coworker was talking about the kids in her yoga class. She said that once she earned their trust – once they saw that she was sticking around, that she cared – then they were in a space to learn yoga from her.

That is the sort of relationship you build with your audience. To build that relationship, though, you need to be real. To be real, you have to know what you’re about.

You can’t do that sort of thing by bullshitting. You can’t pretend to be something you’re not. You have to know what you’re about.

This is where it pays to be authentic.

Authenticity is that 1 in 7 billion. It’s telling the story in your own way, in a voice that nobody else can copy.

A post I wrote on authenticity some months back received comments from readers who pointed out, “Authenticity isn’t something you talk about; it’s something you do.”

True, but some people misconstrue being authentic with being open or oversharing. They think it’s about opening the medicine cabinet and the underwear drawer for all to see.

That’s not authenticity. That’s having no boundaries.

Authenticity is having clear intentions. You tell your audience, “This is what I’m about.”

Once again I wrote a post about mental illness, and once again, I didn’t know how to conclude it. I didn’t know what kind of resolution to give readers, because I didn’t have a resolution within myself.

What I am left with is a need to be authentic. I can’t pretend to be at peace with my condition when I’m not. I can’t pretend to be enlightened when I’m not.

Having no resolution is unsettling, but then that’s how mental illness feels. How do you write about this? In blogging, no resolution is against the rules. Posts are tidy, structured, laced with SEO keywords, and end with a call to action. How do I write about that?

It took a long, long time for those dots to connect. It certainly wasn’t a “fake it until you make it” sort of thing. I had to dig deep and be ready to say, “This is what I’m about.”

If you’re fake, you’re going to get tired of what you pretend to be. If you’re fake, people will notice, and your work will suffer. Worse still, you will lose touch with you you really are.

I’m at peace with the fact that I’m not at peace. I’m at peace with the fact that I am not enlightened, and this makes writing easier. This creates space to write the message that my audience needs to hear, not the one I want them to hear.

When you are that honest with yourself, you don’t lose anything. You gain something incredible.

By writing this recent post, I gained a new perspective on my condition. Friends commented how it helped them understand what I was going through.

It answered a question that’s been troubling me for the past year: how do I live with this condition rather than have a life that is diminished by it?

That higher truth is accessible and open to you, when you are authentic with your audience and honest with yourself. How could you not want that?

Photo Credits: from Unsplash, by Parker Johnson

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