Authenticity is tricky.
Just to be clear, I’m defining authenticity as
real or genuine : not copied or false
true to one’s own personality, spirit, or character
That can be tough to live up to. It’s easy to slip from authentic to unfiltered.
On one hand, I’d never want someone to think I was being fake or hypocritical or plastic. But on the other hand, I don’t want to hang my dirty laundry out for everyone to see.
I recently heard it put this way –
You don’t need to flush the toilet in front of everyone.
I don’t know about you, but I kind of gross out when I realize that someone is in the bathroom while talking to me on the phone. It’s just weird. EXCEPT, if it’s my husband then it doesn’t bug me. It’s no big deal. There’s a different level of authenticity and transparency required for toilet flushing.
There’s such a thing as “too transparent.”
I’m called to be authentic. I believe it’s an important part of encouraging other moms and forming real connections. But there are limits. You know I go to the bathroom. Everyone does. But you don’t need to know the details. I’m quite certain you don’t even WANT to.
Beyond that, if I were to do something as gross and tasteless as Instagramming my bathroom habits, I’m guessing it would hurt our relationship. You’d probably have a hard time taking me seriously the next time I wrote about Grace or tried to share an idea for how to solve a parenting challenge. All you’d be thinking about was my “mess.”
And you’d be right.
Authenticity still needs filters.
Being authentic means I admit that I’m a hot mess. I stop pretending. I let myself be vulnerable and admit I’m flawed and imperfect, and that vulnerability brings us closer.
(In the whole unfortunate bathroom example, it might mean asking a friend to pause a conversation and allow me to call her right back.)
Being unfiltered means I impose my mess on others, sometimes in graphic detail. I stop having boundaries. I over share. I let myself be vulnerable to having my mess used against me. I even use my mess to drive others away.
(Young children are completely unfiltered with their bathroom habits. Ever notice? Thank goodness we have a different standard for itty-bittys.)
I want to be authentic.
I want to be true to my own personality, spirit, and character. I want to be real… genuine… not fake.
But that doesn’t mean I want to flush the toilet in front of you (much less post it to Instagram!)
I’d love to know how you walk the line between authentic and unfiltered. Care to share?
Note: This post is part of an ongoing series expanding the vision first shared in the 31 day series on writing.
A is for Authenticity