authenticity & judgement
To find authenticity is to find and grow the flame deep within you.
The one that’s at your core, where the person you’re meant to be lives. Some people have a nice steady burning throughout their lives, most have one that’s been dimmed, and some of us have a bed of embers where ours once were. The good news is: it’s eternal. It cannot be extinguished, no matter how weak it gets.
Authenticity has always been within you, we’re born with the fire. We see authenticity in babies and we celebrate it in younger children, but then the judgments start and the flame begins to dim and suddenly we’re not perfect just the way we are anymore. Suddenly we need to color in the lines, and sit this way next to this person because someone says so. We need to wear certain clothes at certain times and eat this in the morning but that at night. We need to wear makeup and shave and be uncomfortable and we’re bad or weird if we don’t. So, we go with it. Who wants to be bad or weird? We want to be good and loved, and we’ll be good in order to be loved despite our true desires.
These judgments come to us from family, friends, and society in subtle and obvious forms. If you pay attention you'll notice them everywhere! When we hear them, it’s natural for us to identify with them. We take these thoughts in and give them meaning. That’s why we feel sad or mad or hurt when someone is rude to us. It’s a natural human reaction. If we hear them enough, like anything else, we start to create habits with them. That is when the flame begins to dim. Instead of going about our lives like we did when we were children, knowing full-well that we’re fucking AWESOME, we start to believe our habitual thoughts. These habits are so strong that we believe we are them and they are us. We get insecurities. We start making decisions from the habitual perspective instead of our authentic one. Sometimes they can turn into depression and anxiety or other mental health issues.
So if it’s judgement that dims our fire, then non-judgement is how we can fan the flame. How do we stop society from being judgmental? How do we change our families and their judgmental beliefs?
It’s a bummer realization, but we can’t. We cannot change anyone else, we can only ever control ourselves. Finding happiness and authenticity relies on radical acceptance of this truth. So, if we’re the only person we can change and control, the responsibility lies in us. It might seem unfair and like this isn’t going to work; why do we need to change when all of this has been done TO us, and how will it affect anything when society and our families are the ones who need to change?
I used to wonder this, convinced I’d always be searching for the answer. I was raised with very strong judgments about who and how I should be - so strong and forceful that it turned into abuse. Abuse is wrong, and the victim is never to blame. It was her fault and she needed to stop abusing so that I could heal and find my fire for once. So I tirelessly dedicated my 20's to making that happen, a goal that would never be reached. Instead she died in a car accident, and I was left without resolution. That was in late 2017. I was excited for the healing to begin now that she was gone, but after 2 years of waiting I realized her death hadn’t changed our relationship at all. I still felt extremely judged, sad, and fearful of someone who wasn’t alive.
It may have never been my fault, but her death taught me that my life and healing is my responsibility.
And so I began a mission to undo all of the habits she had helped me create. That’s the super cool thing about habits - they can always be undone, and there are always new habits to learn. I worked to replace every negative and judgmental thought with one that was factual. Not one that is positive - one that is factual. I worked to accept my feelings without judgement. I started saying no to things I didn’t want to do. I started buying whatever I wanted at the grocery store instead of judging myself for what I desired. I started giving myself permission to just be - whatever that meant.
I started to realize that when I’m not being my own bully I’m actually a really cool person. I found my perspective shifting…..and as the flame grew, my whole life changed. I feel like I’ve found homeostasis. My external body and my internal being finally feel at peace. Through a divorce, acquiring debt, an across-state move, a new job, a pandemic, and now another move, I have felt okay. I can’t say I’m always happy now, because that’s impossible, but I am always content as long as that fire is burning.