On Being Authentic

Today a friend advised me to be authentic. “Be your authentic self,” she said. Isn’t that great advice? Are you authentic?

The Merriam-Webster definition includes this description: “made or done the same way as an original”. It makes me think about compartmentalization. I believe we all compartmentalize in our daily lives, and I think it sometimes makes us feel disconnected from one another – and perhaps misunderstood.

Here’s an example: During a business trip to Nashville, I was invited to lunch with several men with whom I was forming an association for real estate developers. We piled in the car together and traveled to a local bbq joint. As we ate shredded pork sandwiches and greens, we discussed local bureaucrats, football, and marathon running. I chirped in with comments and thoroughly enjoyed the food and conversation. On the return drive to my hotel with one of the men, I discussed my children and my husband. Of course my personal passions – like poetry and Paris – were missing entirely from the discussions. For that matter, so were those of my colleagues – and I feel certain each one has at least one personal passion they would never discuss in a professional setting.

That is classic compartmentalization. We show only certain sides of ourselves to others – and sometimes to ourselves. From now on, I’m going to do less compartmentalizing. I’m going to do my best to be authentic. It’s a little scary, but it should feel great.


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