My blogging friend, Susan, of Penless Writer, wrote a great post a couple of days ago on being authentic and vulnerable. I encourage you to go read this post to not only hear her views but to get the basis of my thoughts. I was commenting back to her and the more I wrote, the more it became apparent that I needed to put this in my own post. Here's are my thoughts:
I agree whole heartily with Susan when she writes: In thinking about being authentic I believe the main reason so many people aren't, both in real flesh and blood life and blogland, is the fear of the second word....being vulnerable. It's very true, if you are truly genuine and real, no false fronts, no phoniness, you will make yourself vulnerable.
In my more recent years, I have worked hard at being authentic. It's not always easy. It means that I have to show a part of myself that I don't want to admit to or shed light on. I believe we are all broken, but many times, I don't want to admit that. Some times I have a hard time admitting that to myself. Once I can be honest with myself, I still have to make the decision to be honest and open about my brokenness with others.
Maybe the harder aspect to being authentic is the ugliness that lies in each of us. God created us special and unique, but we live in a fallen world and therefore, sin lives within us. Even though I know I'm flawed, and that everyone else is, too, I have a hard time admitting to that. I don't want people to think of me as being perfect, but neither do I want them to think of me as someone who doesn't have their act together or struggles with something specific.
I guess that's what this all boils down to... judgement. I don't think any of us wants to be judged in any aspect of our lives. By being vulnerable, we put ourselves in that position. Why would we intentionally do this to ourselves? For me, I needed to see or feel the positive effects, instead of looking at it in a negative light.
I've realized that the older I get, the more I needed to be authentic and the more I worked at it, the easier it has become [and I'm still working at it]. I'm sure it's partially because I am more in touch with who I really am and who I really want to be. I think that comes naturally with age, but it does require some soul searching and commitment. For me, one of the rewards is the freedom from hiding behind one of the many masks I've carried with me my whole life.
One last thing... I want people to feel like they can be authentic with me. How can I expect this if I'm not willing to be authentic with them? This applies to all people, but became very real while working with teenagers. I think they have some innate sense of when an adult isn't being real with them. And how could I expect them to be real with me if I wasn't doing the same for them?