I recently read that authenticity is “the choice to let our true selves be seen”.
Good thing? Bad thing?
I read in a blog post that authenticity essentially equates to brutal honesty .. like the total unfiltered kind. Like, “hey, I saw your new baby and he isn’t so cute” kind of “authenticity“. That is NOT what I’m writing about today.
I’m writing about being the best version of yourself, authentic. Being the kind of person that people aspire to be like. The way you wish you were after you say something stupid and realize that it hurt someone in a way you didn’t intend.
Authenticity that encompasses caring and concern … and when that happens without it benefiting yourself. Just being human. Being kind. Giving for the sake of giving. Knowing that, of course, sometimes you’ll get rewarded for your kindness, but not doing it BECAUSE of the reward.
It’s a lofty ask. I meet very few people that probably fit the bill. And honestly, I’m not sure I’m always that person myself. But I think about it all.of.the.time. Because it’s sort of my north star I believe. And my stomach turns upside down when I meet someone who shows me they are just in it for themselves. Yuck.
True story. A few years back I was at an event and there were some pretty “important” people. I was a “nobody” and I felt it, but I held my head high and worked the room – being myself – showing interest in others — because I’m genuinely curious about other people and who they are – but no doubt, I didn’t “fit in”.
So this is how it went … I’d meet someone – they’d look at my name tag (and my company) and quickly decide whether I was worth engaging with or not … whether I was somebody important to them — meaningful — helpful — you get the drift. More often than not – I was not deemed high enough on their value table and they quickly found somewhere else to be. It was humiliating but I’m a big girl and recognized it’s part of the real world – part of the business world. Sigh.
During that evening I spent, I don’t know, probably 30 minutes talking to one guy about his Burning Man experience. Others came into the conversation. There were iPhone photos shared. I asked many questions. People laughed and we had a nice chat. I had no idea who the guy was. I showed my honest enthusiasm to learn more about him, or others that came into the conversation and nothing more. And when the evening ended and I went back home, I reached out on LinkedIn to the people that I met (and actually met / had conversations with and where I felt comfortable that we had connected) — because that is what we do – we extend an invitation and say how great it was to connect … And you can guess the results. …. Crickets.
Fast forward about six months and I’m applying for the job to run the organization that held the event. I know, seriously, right? Well, that story is for another blog post. Anyway … I’m about to meet the person that I had the 30-minute conversation with … for an interview! Do you think he remembered me? … yeah, no.
Even better … once I got the job (and yes, I did get the job) … I spent the next few years going to events where every time I met someone, it was like my wedding .. “Oh … SO great to meet you!! How wonderful … blah blah blah”. Now don’t get me wrong. I’m not here to judge or criticize (at least not opening in my blog post LOL) … because those were people trying to be nice. And I do appreciate that they were being .. well, nice. I know most were being authentic. But what I never forgot is that their enthusiasm was all because of my title and not because of who I was as a person.
Maybe I’m living in a fantasy world because I want people to see me … and I don’t know, maybe I’m okay with living with that as my fantasy. True, people disappoint me all of the time because I want to see the goodness in people first and it’s often not always there … but I don’t want to lose faith and go through life with a glass half full approach … or worse, feeling like people are self serving and nothing more. So I’ll take the hits. I’ll wear the battle scars with pride. I’ll keep on wishing and wanting and hoping and dreaming … Because when I meet someone, I know that I am curious about who they are … not what they can do for me. And when I go to sleep at night, I’m grateful for the people in my life that know the difference.