Isn’t being authentic enough that we now want to be radically so?
An authentic life is where we express ourselves just the way we are. There is no disconnection between our inner world and our outward life. It is peace, joy and bliss rolled into a package, or so we are led to think. But being radically authentic is when the clichés surrounding authenticity are challenged and candour takes the place of pretension- the charade of being true only to the positive in the spectrum of human emotions.
In the pursuit of emotional well being, an authentic voice is much desired, something that is true to the self. The ‘voice’ manifests itself in the choices we make, in the way we run our lives, the philosophy we swear by and the creative outlets we have. We declare to the world our real personas and we feel empowered when we bring out all the love and goodwill for the humankind as a mere fallout of being ourselves.
Yet, I question myself, are we, as a community or a society, going overboard in our quest for authenticity? Do we not feel pressurised to have the perfect life or the perfect work life balance, the perfect emotions and the perfect goals? Is it important that we be climbing mountains, real or metaphorical, travel far and wide, write a book or record that album and in the process feel nothing but priviledged, successful because we pushed ourselves or challenged ourselves?
An average day sees in us a wide range of emotions… Happiness yes and focus yes and bliss yes and chasing our dreams yes. Do we even acknowledge the ubiquitous doubt no and anxiety no and inadequacy no and boredom no and whiling away time no…? We do not even allow a low grade unhappiness because of the inherent and sometimes unavoidable disconnection between the situations and the realities of our emotions.
Why is it that suddenly we have an aversion to negativity, to feeling inadequate, to not be following our bliss, to not be dreaming big? Do we need to look at every challenge as an opportunity for personal growth? Do we have the courage to admit our vulnerability, our flawed reasoning and all too human failures? Even in talking of our failure, we are supposed to concentrate how it was a learning experience.
Sometimes, I think back of the time I was fighting depression. Safely distanced from that experience, I like to think how I cherish that time because it was the biggest learning for me. Coming out of that harrowing time unscathed, I proclaim that it is empowering to know that I could conquer. It makes me brave in everyone’s eyes and a winner to my mind’s eye. While it is true that it is good to have a greater feeling of security because something that could go awry and wreak havoc ultimately turned out all right and I feel relatively unscathed. Yet, am I turning my back on those negative emotions that led me into that well of despair in the first place? I feel compelled to be looking at the glass as being full most of the time and am rewarded by a vocal acceptance of myself as a positive person. But how much of my completeness is contributed by my dark side?
Is it not alright anymore to lead an ordinary life? To be able to see the beauty and the magnificence of the simple existence? It is more desirable that we recognize our pace, our proclivities and that our little happinesses are just as important as the grand ones. It is only a matter of scale and a perceived importance of the larger one. It is alright not to judge sometimes, more importantly our own selves or to push ourselves to feel what we should be feeling… feeling posituve, energetic and dreaming lofty dreams. It is alright to do things for the sake of doing them and not for any end in sight. Not for that painting to be one day hung in the gallery or even in the parlour. Not for those words to be penned down into a book. It is better to take time to stop, to find ourselves by losing ourselves in ‘something’, even nothing, rather than chasing after a goal. It is better to share a moment with a friend and even silence.
Every few days or even hours, we might feel unhinged. Something happens to throw us out of our equanimous state. And often, it is because nothing happens that the mental equilibrium is challenged. It is the void that becomes our undoing. And we realize that spiritually we have strayed far from home.
For me, finding and maintaining authenticity is being in balance, emotionally, physically, spiritually… all of the elements that make me. And being in balance means finding balance again and again and yet again. It is the acknowledgement that balancing is a constant act.
Being radically authentic does not only mean being open but also embracing both the positives and the negatives within us. We often ignore the negative because it drives us down but shadows are a part of light.