The Beautiful Struggle Of Authenticity
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Cataloged in Best-of Thought Catalog / Stories

The Beautiful Struggle Of Authenticity

What would be the story of you?

What would be the linear and clear timeline that somehow shapes us all, but tells us so very, very little about anything at all. Oh, I know the stories I tell to mold the frame that others see me through (not, lies, no, but not the whole truth, not the painful dark and horrible parts, must be pretty, must be nice…). Hell, I know the stories I tell myself when I’m alone and afraid, the stories that ward off the demons of my past like a cowering priest with a flimsy cross in the face of some unnamed and terrible evil. Some of those demons carry my face, my words, my actions, and those are the hardest demons to overcome -the ones I created.

On some days I feel strong. Liberated. Free. But on others, oh God on others, the shackles chafe, the air seems to weigh me down, and the future yawns before me like a some monstrous chasm of doubt and impossibility. I feel full, weighted down, immersed in all the obstacles I’ve overcome and all the ones that keep appearing to replace them. Like a traveler in the desert, muttering ‘over this last dune I’ll find the oasis, just one more,’ only to find another dry, lifeless dune followed by another.

It is such a struggle to be authentic. This cannot be just me.

I can’t be the only one who hides the most honest parts of herself behind heavy doors thick with doubt and shame and fear. The only one who lies awake at night wondering if she’s some sort of fraud for holding those precious pieces closer to herself, keeping them safe, but far, far away from the sunlight because time and life have taught her that the world takes such pretty things and dashes them to smouldering pieces. Authenticity demands vulnerability and how fucking terrifying is that? It doesn’t ask us to conquer our demons, it asks us to drag them into the spotlight, wrap an arm around them and call them friend. It demands that we own the holes we’ve dug so we can try and climb our way back out again, but first we have to admit we dug the hole in the first place. Then we have to drag ourselves up and out even as stones are thrown from above and our feet and hands slip -even as we are called weak, stupid, emotional, and unlovable. It asks us to cry out, to not remain silent, and hope that hands will reach out and hoist us up.

Authenticity is vulnerability and vulnerability demands weakness. How fucking terrifying is that?

I want so much to sketch out the story, my story, your story, our story, but it isn’t linear. It’s lopped and dipped and wavering and tangled up in itself and I wonder if it even has a recognizable shape. Who is the villain in this tale of growth and struggle and solitude? Am I afraid (are you afraid) it might be me (you)?

I’m not alone, despite this hollow ache that echoes and clatters within. I am overwhelmed by how not alone I am. Stunned and burdened and uplifted by how much my story echoes in you and her and him. It’s the same story with different characters but wrapped into familiar arcs and climaxes and conclusions. You’re not different and broken and impossible to comprehend, you’re you, and you’re finding that you don’t fit the mold you or anyone else tried to press you into and it burns… but you’re too afraid to put out the flames. Too afraid to examine the burned flesh that remains because then you would have to see; see yourself for who and what you are. And that, well… that would necessitate change, and change, more than authenticity, more than vulnerability or weakness is the dark terror that stalks us in the night. I know that fear, I feel it deep and real and pulsing.

The thing we fear the most is change, not because it’s impossible or painful, but because we have the power to necessitate it and we always have. The oasis has been stretching out beside you the entire time but you’ve been too afraid to turn your head and see it for what it is -too afraid to sketch out a new path that might lead you straight to it. You just have to look yourself in the eye and know it, feel it, be it. You’re already on the precipice, you just need to take that leap, take that hand reaching down from above, embrace those demons, and grasp that power you’ve always feared.

Have the courage to be you. Nothing could be more horrible, or more worth it. TC mark