It’s no secret that I’m new to writing. I have only been posting on this blog for about 2 months and in the first few weeks I struggled expressing what I wanted to say.
It was after I found these writing prompts and started writing what was in my heart instead of my head that I began to understand what was missing. I knew I had a story to tell, but my writing just wasn’t authentic. I was writing the way I had been taught to write. I was following the rules instead of following my heart. I was failing to share the part of me that truly makes me who I am.
And in thinking about today’s prompt I realized that this lack of authenticity when has at times carried over into other parts of my life as well.
After my divorce I struggled to understand who I was. For so long I defined myself in terms of that relationship, and as a mother. When I was suddenly spending so much time alone, it was scary. I started off doing the things I thought I should do, continuing on with certain habits that had served me during my marriage. But I came to realize that this wasn’t me. It wasn’t until I started reading and walking the beach, instead of watching the TV shows that had once been so important to me, that I began to feel true to myself.
And in doing so, I learned to be authentic with myself.
At work I was trying to prove myself as the new person on the team. Since I was working in IT for the first time I tried to act like I knew more than I did, instead of admitting how much I needed to learn. Eventually I realized that I would understand more, grasp ideas faster, if I asked more questions instead of pretending I already knew the answer. And I found that what I really do best is ask the right questions so that I can truly understand the problem that needs to be solved.
And in doing so, I learned to be authentic with my coworkers.
But where I’ve been the least authentic has been in my relationships. Early on I would meet new people and I’d have trouble opening up. Even simple irrefutable statements would fail to come out of my mouth when talking to someone. “The sky is blue.” was too difficult to say. I would repeat what I wanted to say over and over in my mind, completely unable to release the words. “The sky is blue. The sky is blue. The sky is blue. The sky is blue.” I let fear of what people would think hold back my ideas. Over time I began to push past this fear and participated in the conversations that were happening around me, and I was able to make real connections with people who have now become close friends.
And in doing so, I learned to be authentic with others.
I recently started talking to an old boyfriend, one who “knew me when.” The conversation we had showed how well I hid my true self. It turns out that even though we dated for about 9 months, he never really knew who I was. He knew the pleaser, the one who had no opinions and no standards. This is no longer who I am. I wonder what he’ll think of the new me.
And in doing so, I am learning to be authentic with men.
One of my very close friends said to me earlier this week that he can’t believe how far I’ve come in just the few years he’s known me. In the beginning I would sit next to him at an event, and I wouldn’t speak. Now I’m connecting with strangers virtually every day with little hesitation. I have definitely grown considerably. I am no longer the person I was, yet I’m not the person I plan to be. It will take more practice, more self-discovery, but I am learning to be authentic with the world.
This post is in response to the daily writing prompt Authentic