This post feels like taking a step towards enlightenment.
I’m not being dramatic, but I came to a conclusion about something this past weekend I’ve previously not been able to nail down. Authenticity is one’s greatest virtue.
Let me set this up. I was Whatsapping with a guy I’d gone on a date with. He lives in Africa, working as a honeybee farmer in Tanzania. I know, that part is amazing. He’d listened to a podcast I’d been interviewed for and mentioned he’d found it very interesting. The only thing was, “The beginning sounded really scripted. The followup questions were more you. You know what you’re talking about so you should just let the ideas flow.”
I was livid.
How dare he give me this unsolicited feedback? If I wanted him to let me know his thoughts I would have asked. Telling me my interview sounded scripted made me feel unprepared and incapable. What’s even worse, it made me feel inauthentic.
I seethed about his podcast postpartum for several hours, then forgot about it. But knew it was worth noting. There is something more to this.
Garden State (2004) is one of the best movies of all time – my opinion. It touches on a moment involving Natalie Portman’s character Sam feeling unoriginal. She combated this by doing something that had never been done before to feel completely original again. My feelings about authenticity isn’t far off.
Recently an influencer I know beyond the Instagram lens posted a throwback selfie of her and her husband (while he was on his phone) during their honeymoon with a caption that read something along the lines of “I’m taking selfies while he’s making deals”. Knowing neither of them have real jobs to speak of, her feeble attempt to make it look like her husband was busy working on their honeymoon (firstly, what?? I would file for annulment on the spot) was, well, pathetic. It was a lie. Even if he was making a one off emergency call, why photograph to blast across to your 25k followers? LOOK HE’S WORKING! I SWEAR our parents didn’t pay for this ridiculous wedding followed by this even more ridiculous honeymoon.
Haha – I went back to the post and one of the last of the 25 or so comments on the photo reads: “What does he do?” Obviously no one bothered responding to that.
Just be who you are! He doesn’t have a normal job, but there’s no need to project that he does. The whole situation was just… INAUTHENTIC.
I’m just going to keep citing instances when inauthenticity has made me question another person or even our friendship.
Over two years ago a friend of almost 15 years and I blanked one another. She was transitioning in her career and wasn’t working in an office full-time. In order to fully take the plunge into her new career, she was forced to work without pay for a while. I applauded this. She was living her truest life. But then she began to lie about it and the money she was making. She started a Twitter account and asked me for my expertise being a social media specialist. Within days she’d accrued over 2,000 followers. She’d only tweeted 17 times, most of which were retweets. I knew what this meant but I was tactful in how conveyed it to her – “Based on your current Twitter standing, it may look like you’re buying followers”. It wasn’t an insinuation that I knew, but constructive feedback on how to maintain an engaged base. She responded (or better yet, retaliated) by blocking me. When I asked her about it a few days later, she was all: “Oh, do you think Twitter is buggy and just does that?” No. No, I don’t think it just randomly blocks your followers.
I stopped speaking to her after that but I couldn’t understand how I could let something so trivial get in the way of our friendship that would probably have lasted decades.
INAUTHENTICITY. Be who you are. I can’t trust you if you lie about the stupidest shit.
I’m loving this right now. Remember Miley Cyrus circa 2008? I couldn’t stand her back then. My niece who was 8 at the time adored her and I bought her Miley’s first album when she was sick. She loved it and played “Party in the USA” on loop. I ended up banning the CD from my car.
I couldn’t put my finger on what I didn’t like about Disney Channel days Miley Cyrus. Vaguely I remember some sexy selfies leaking onto PerezHilton.com and found her variety of Disney-fied bubble gum pop to be…you go it… INAUTHENTIC. It bothered me so much that my 8 year old niece saw this conflicted teen as a role model.
Years later, when Miley “came out” as her true self, I loved her. Now it was my turn to leave Wrecking Ball on loop and I did so for much of 2013. She was embracing who she was and it was everything. If this same niece wanted to look-up to this narrative, I’m all for it. It’s real. It’s who she is.
I could keep going with this.
Touching on lying boyfriends isn’t necessary. That’s a given and pisses everyone off, so I’ll give it a miss. What I will say is when I dated the Texan, I touched on how he would project his insecurities onto his sister and ex-girlfriend. I saw through this and knew I had to end it by waiting for an opportunity to do so. When I did, and he made it seem like his idea, he reenforced everything I’d believed about his inauthenticity as a person. Fundamentally, this is why he and I were incompatible.
But this understanding of how I interact with others based on their perceived authenticity or my own insecurity around my own authenticity is huge. It’s a rare virtue to have to be completely authentic at all times. I know I’m guilty of saying things behind the backs of people I consider friends and shouldn’t. There’s a delayed onset guilt I always feel after the fact but can’t quite place. It’s my own inauthenticity as their friend that I’m uncomfortable with and perhaps the only way to come to terms with this feeling is by either telling them to their faces how I feel or cut them out completely. By spending time with someone I don’t admire, I’m living my most inauthentic life and it needs to stop here.
NB: I’m fully aware that stock photos are inauthentic. Thats one I can’t get around just yet.