In an ego-driven society where self-image is heavily determined by either status or aesthetics, being authentic is the elusive transcendence that is experienced on the path to self-discovery or some shit like that.
While I’m in complete support of being true to oneself, I cannot help but feel that authenticity has become branded, generic, and somewhat… inauthentic.
The foundation of authenticity is to be emotionally, physically, spiritually, and behaviorally aligned.
However, there is a growing image of what self-discovery looks like and the masses are eating up the vegan, gluten-free, non GMO, no sugar added bullshit with a recycled, environmentally-friendly spoon.
The image of authenticity is Urban Outfitters meets the Manson Family compound. Rather than being raw and honest with oneself and others, authenticity can seemingly be achieved by attending a tantric sex seminar and shopping at Whole Foods dressed as Janis Joplin.
One no longer needs to reach deep within the bowels of their soul to rip out the truth and transform their thought processes and subsequent behaviors — one simply has to post a Rumi quote and burn some frankincense.
Acai bowls and handmade, all-natural lavender soap are now erroneously believed to be the catalysts of change by those who believe that authenticity is an image and not a journey.
Self-actualization is now being marketed as a path for the wayward paved with commercialized eastern ideologies and a dash of western flair.
As a mentor and a therapist, the cornerstone of my job is to help others find themselves and achieve an individualized definition of happiness.
For some, that is living out of a van listening to Fleetwood Mac and smoking weed, but for the more practical clientele, quitting a job and losing a 401k to teach yoga in Bali and sell hemp jewelry on Etsy is not always an option.
Being authentic is not always synonymous with having chakras aligned and burning sage while Venus is in retrograde — it is lying down in bed at night with yourself and feeling as though you took even a single step toward growth and fulfillment.
Authenticity is meant to be imperfect and blemished. My personal journey toward authenticity can be easily likened to the seven labors of Hercules — and I am not yet victorious.
For me, authenticity is black coffee, foul language, sarcasm, and insensitivity that borders condescension.
I’m a selfish, workaholic that has a maddening love affair with achievement and a good port wine.
Being true to myself means pursuing my needs and wants with fierce tenacity while quickly abandoning what keeps me small and discontent.
I’m a realist with control issues and an unhealthy obsession with true crime. I eat processed food, I’m terrible at yoga, and sometimes, I do not recycle — but I continue to evolve into what I can only hope will be a tolerable member of society.
At the end of each day, I rest assured knowing that I am fulfilled but still eager for continued growth.
Finding oneself requires more than hot yoga and a few Bukowski quotes — there is emotional labor and introspection that goes deeper than a Burning Man concert.
Change is not brought about solely by reading Eat, Pray, Love and backpacking through Europe, but rather by critically analyzing oneself piece by piece and digging through the dirt until vulnerability is excavated through the rubble.
In order to achieve the quintessence of veracity, we must walk through the fire, not frolic through a field like a Dior commercial.
Authenticity begs us to be raw and uncomfortable while we shed our insecurities and our facades that our egos wear as armor.
One will not find the core of their being in a fashion trend, dietary restriction, or self-help book; we must explore ourselves to the point of discomfort — that is where the journey begins.