We’ve got a juicy one in store for you today, my friend. Today, we’re talking about authenticity.
Authenticity (or the lack thereof) shows up in a lot of our stories of changing our relationship with alcohol; alcohol as an inhibitor of authenticity, the thing preventing us from living up to our highest potential, the mask behind which we hide or morph.
On a personal level, alcohol turned out to be the one thing that was preventing me from connecting to my purpose and the fullest iteration of myself. I hid, I remained small, I fit in where I thought I was supposed to, I changed into the person others expected me to be. Removing alcohol stripped away the facade—it was painful at first, but eventually allowed me to find my voice and my purpose and my unapologetic love of pop music, cool factor be damned.
So what is authenticity, exactly?
In layman's terms, authenticity is the act of being wholly, unapologetically oneself. But beyond that, authenticity requires awareness, constant self-examination, a balancing of responsibilities and the impact of our choices. Understanding our motivations, our limitations, the things that light us up, and our boundaries. Authenticity is a complex and ever-evolving process, and something that very few could be considered true experts in.
Researchers have decided that authenticity is the human baseline, but that we’re blocked from fulfilling that baseline by everything else in life. Our families of origin, our culture, our jobs, our peers, the interconnectedness of our tech age, and so on. They came to this conclusion by studying newborns; squishy little week-old babies live their fullest iteration, unapologetically and enthusiastically. (Can confirm, as the proud owner of two of these creatures.)
But interestingly, they note that around 18-months-old, the behavior of those squishy babies begins to change—they begin to act differently around specific people, modulating their expressions, behavior, and even outward affect depending on who they are interacting with. (This also explains why my toddler is charming to strangers and a temperamental gremlin for “mama.”)
We discover, at a painfully young age, that love and affection is conditional. That people give us the resources we need—affection, food, shelter, safety, financial resources—depending on how much they like us, and that we can have an impact on that through our behavior. It sounds tragic, but it’s simply reality. We learn to be inauthentic, or even synthetically “authentic,” through years and years of conditioning telling us that it gives us an edge to hide our true selves.