~ Genuine ~


Authentic (Photo credit: Ara Pehlivanian)

Authentic seems to be the buzz word these days. The advice: “be authentic” is given every day in many ways—in blog posts, magazines, on television. I have never given this piece of advice to my sons, because I have no doubt that they are being authentic.

What does “being authentic” mean? I have to say that this short phrase has lost its meaning for me because it has been repeated ad nauseam. Does it simply mean “be yourself” or is it deeper? Is it a struggle to be authentic? You would think that it would be easy~ but if it were easy, then it would not be something that drops so eloquently and frequently from the mouths of many of the gurus of the day.

Authentic. Perhaps if we articulate what the word means it will help define exactly what being authentic means. My thesaurus  (embedded magically in my laptop) gives these words as synonyms: true, reliable, dependable, faithful, trustworthy, accurate, genuine, real,  valid, bona fide. Its antonyms are two very negative words:  false and fake. The definition is: “Genuine and original, as opposed to being a fake or a reproduction.” (Encarta dictionary)

I get so tired of buzz words, but the meaning of this word is substantial. It has a right to roam the earth, but not as something that is spouted without context. It is good to be faithful and trustworthy. It is divine to be genuine and real. But sometimes we do adopt the false and fake to hide our authenticity because we are afraid if we let our true or real selves show through, we will be found wanting.

I want to be authentic—but I want to know exactly what that means. I do not want it to be a superficial “handle” to be bandied about at will. Authenticity is the basis of a life well-lived, but it needs support and acceptance. Those who are not authentic have found that being themselves is not “good enough”.

To be authentic we need to be brave, we need to be ourselves, we need to know how to take off the mask without fear. Sometimes it is hard to show your true self. It is much easier to be rejected for something you are not, then for something you are.

Does being “authentic” mean “wearing our heart on our sleeve”? Yes, I think it does.  When we show what is in our heart we are being ourselves. We are being true, valid and bona fide. Or genuine.

Are you tired of being told to “be authentic”. Do you think it is easy?

Published in: on October 24, 2012 at 10:02 am  Comments (54)  
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54 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. Sometimes it is easy to be authentic, when you feel your true self, warts and all will be accepted. In other situations maybe it is a censored version of self that you put out there. As always, interesting post Lou.

    • that is so true – you hit the nail on the head (without hitting your fingers!) it is our censored selves that we so often present

  2. Very interesting – got me thinking again as you always do! What about “be yourself” – what the hell is that supposed to mean? Could you write a post on that?

  3. “It is much easier to be rejected for something you are not, then for something you are.” This is something to think about, and I think it explains the behavior of a lot of people.

  4. I find authenticity arises according to the situation – who you are surrounded by hugely impacts whether you have the confidence to be your true self or not. A very interesting read 🙂

    Choc Chip Uru

    • thank you Uru–that is right–we are ourselves when we are most comfortable that we will be accepted

  5. There are quite a few people running around in this world who don’t know who they are, trying on one identity after another. That makes it hard to be “authentic.” As you pointed out, authenticity makes you vulnerable. That’s not always wise, so that makes it hard, too. Great question.

    • I think it is harder than it first appears — makes sense to be authentic, but things that make sense do not always win out

  6. Very provocative post. Now I’m not sure what “authentic” means. I didn’t realize what a buzzword it’s become until you pointed it out. It’s not a word I associate with people. To me, it’s a label for an object.

  7. Great post .. Living an authentic life is certainly a risk-taker, but the alternative (a fake life) is not acceptable (been there, done that)

  8. The other buzz word that gets me is transparent. I’d love to be authentic all the time, but rejection keeps me from that. There is nothing better than being with people you know you can be yourself around though. It’s like putting on the cookie pants at the end of the day!

  9. I tell myself to be authentic, and I grow weary of that. You are right, it means to wear our hearts on our sleeves. It also means to let go of fear. Haven’t got that part sorted out yet…

  10. Yes … wear your heart on your sleeve … but not only be true to yourself, be true to others. … Thanks for being a genuine host.

    • I like your addition “be true to others”–wise words-thank you

      • 🙂

    • Love that addition. Being true to others is actually a bigger challenge than being true to yourself but it can only follow after one is genuine and honest about oneself.

  11. This made me think. Maybe I’m not a genuine person. I think I am being me, both in writing on my blog and in person, but I do have to admit that I don’t wear my heart on my sleeve. I’m from a family of stiff upper lip types and have had it ingrained that feelings are my business only, not anyone esle’s. I guess I tend to be flip more often than completely genuine.

    • Me too – though it is hard to maintain a stiff upper lip sometimes — I never think you are flip–just clever.
      By wearing your heart on your sleeve though, I do not mean spill your guts–there is a little too much of that–I think you are genuine–

  12. Love it. It makes me think, what I am striving for in my life.

    Thanks for the post

    • and thank you for dropping by – glad it gave you a little food for thought, as they say

  13. I think many words and phrases get over-used until they lose their meaning and this is one of them. Everyone is authentic or amazing or awesome — no they’re or there not. You know my feelings on this! Another one that keeps showing up is “bucket list.” I’m over it plus I’d rather just have a “Running List of Things I Want to Do,” and leave off the whole end of life thing. I’m babbling, but I will say one thing: Lou Ann, you are true, reliable, dependable, faithful, trustworthy, accurate, genuine, real, valid, bona fide….yep, that word, authentic.

    • aw, shucks Brigitte – you are so nice and I agree with you — some stuff is way overused
      Instead of a bucket list, I am like you–no end of life thing for me–I call mine my “life list”

  14. I am kinda tired of it, but would rather someone be “real” and genuine, than not!

    • me too – but why do we have to be told to be authentic??

      • Now that’s the million dollar question! And I don’t have the answer!

      • darn, I was sure you would –

      • I am amazed by how little I do know! I get my life answers from you.

      • good one–I like how you turned that around!

  15. When I hear “be yourself, be authentic” I’m wondering how much those people who say it actually live by it. There are so many situations when we don’t act according to our own nature for whatever reasons that the mantra should be rather finding more times to express our true natures. It’s also funny how genuineness is the “IT” thing now while everyone just follows trends, fads and hypes. This would be a good advice if people actually looked into themselves and realized that they just follow the herd most of the time. Without true self assessment it’s just a phrase that most know, less are following.

    • very astute – thank you for this thoughtful comment and I agre with you–we need to do more than just repeat a new catch phrase

  16. The older I get, the more “authentic”. I’m “free to be me”–another hackneyed expression :o)

  17. It’s hard to be true to yourself if your environment is full of people telling you how to be, what to do, how to act etc… it starts with your parents telling you – be nice, say please, don’t slouch, brush more. Then in school – this is how it’s done, this is why you do it, this is how it started. Then at work, and everywhere you go. Sometimes rules and society force us to be a certain way. I could go on… but for me, to be real is to first like myself, then accept there are several versions of me that adapt to different situations.

    Great topic! Loved reading all the feedback too!

    • you are right – we do have several versions of ourselves, and who is to say that everyone of them is not a part of us, our true selves

  18. Nice topic and “food for thought.” Many words and phrases for some reason, become what I call “catch all.” So authenic, real, amazing, and etc. have become over used, abused, misused, and right now, I am amused.

    I was not trying to be funny. Or maybe I was.

    I stumbled across your blog via someone’s else’s blog. I have no idea whose blog. I think I’m going to like your corner of blogland a lot.


    • so glad you dropped by and are amused–you are right about catch all phrases, which are useful I guess until you find out you are not all that sure about what they are referring to

  19. my favorite post of yours so far ~ i agree, i do feel we all struggle to not be “fake” especially if we aren’t sure of the ramifications of being ourselves. thanks for your words of truth and honesty

  20. I may be an over-thinker here. But – I think people are always authentic – even when they are not…

  21. I think being authentic and genuine is more of a feeling rather than anything we can really articulate too much. Sometimes I meet people who are perfectly friendly but don’t strike me as being particularly genuine, if that makes sense. When we stop trying to please other people and accept ourselves for who we are, warts and all, I think that in one sense can mean that we’re being our genuine true selves. Lots of food for thought here! 🙂

    • I think you have a very good point — it starts with us accepting ourselves

  22. Fascinating discussion…. I think that it’s only possible to be authentic if we’re not frightened, and most children were frightened that they weren’;t acceptable, so they put on good face. It’s as we mature and grow out of our fears of rejection and punishment for being who we were as children that we find the courage to be authentic. It comes naturally when we’ve let go the past, but often we don’t realise that the past is still running our lives.
    I don’t think we can decide to be authentic – we Are authentic or we haven’t got there yet…..
    Not sure any of this makes sense!

    • makes perfect sense, I do not think we can just decide to be authentic one day, we have to kind of achieve it–

  23. Sometimes being authentic is not always appropriate. Do we always say what’s on our mind? I think not. So the next best thing is to be honest, but say things differently than the way your first instincts my lead you say them…but only in certain situations.

  24. i think they’re called buzz words for a reason. buzz is a very annoying sound. you are both genuine and authentic – anyone who reads your blog knows that.

    • thanks so much — and buzz is an annoying word–thanks for putting it together for me 🙂

  25. I think we can be ‘authentic’ or be the ‘real us’ when we like and believe in ourselves…otherwise we’re trying to hide what we don’t believe others would like in us…Diane

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