Do you ever feel afraid to be as you are? See if actor Patrick Stewart’s story and these comments help you think or feel differently about this.
Tavis Smiley interviewed Patrick Stewart (Captain Picard in Star Trek: The Next Generation). The topic of Stewart’s famed hairless dome came up, and Stewart revealed he was as bald by age nineteen as he is today; and that for years, he wore a comb-over. His defining moment came after lunch at the home of a Hungarian black belt Judo player, who was also a director, and his wife. The couple left the room—Stewart thought to make coffee. He was grabbed from behind and held by his strong friend while the wife used scissors to snip off the comb-over. Stewart was furious. His friend let him go then knelt in front of him and said, “Now, be yourself! No more hiding.”
The dictionary has several definitions of authentic including “that is in fact as represented; genuine; real” and “true to its type; conforming to an original in style, methods, etc.”
You could say the first definition above refers to “walk your talk.” We usually start out talking more than “walking,” but with the intention to catch up as soon as possible. This is especially true when we’re processing inner-level matters we wish to shift. That “between place” is authentic, even if it seems counterintuitive to think of it this way—because it’s where we are as we aim to move forward. Each of us always has to start where we are.
The second definition is intriguing because of the words “conforming to an original”—because the original you must conform to in order to be authentic is you. Yet, how often do we view ourselves as original, unique—which we undeniably are; and we hesitate or fail to honor and celebrate this. Usually, this is because elements of society have imposed beliefs upon us such as attractiveness looks “this” way, intelligence is expressed “this” way, true success looks like “this,” and other similar statements.
It took Michelangelo three years to carve his David statue, to carve an exquisite image from something “fixed” in nature—marble. We, however, are not fixed in nature because we have the ability to self-learn and self-adjust. We are the sculptor and the clay of ourselves, which is as it was meant to be. Even if diamonds in the rough, we are more exquisite than any work of art or ancient architecture—because we are the creators of such works, or can be, even if on a much smaller scale.
We tend to think that being authentic means we are 100 percent certain about every aspect of ourselves, all the time. What a set-up for frustration. What if the truth is you’re always authentic, but don’t perceive it that way? Do you feel confused about something? Then, be with that—feel authentically confused so you can find what needs to be chipped away or molded until you’re clear about that particular matter. Confused is not inauthentic, it’s an authentic aspect asking for clarity—clarity about what is appropriate for you.
Authenticity is who you are—what you feel—in each moment, and the choices you make from that inner place. You may desire to perceive yourself as your most excellent self, but that’s something you can choose each and every moment—because you are changed in some way by each and every moment.
You are never inauthentic. Dissatisfied, perhaps; but always authentically you, with all your perceived “positives” and “negatives.”
Question: If a “negative” leads to a “positive,” is it truly, wholly a negative? If the “negative” had never appeared or happened, would the positive still have manifested?
Would the character of Captain Picard have impressed us as we were if he’d worn a comb-over? We may not have friends who will take such measures as Stewart’s did, which means we have the responsibility to “snip our own comb-overs” and say, “Now, be yourself! No more hiding.”
D. A. Battista said, "The scars you acquire by exercising courage will never make you feel inferior." It’s possible that when someone feels “inauthentic,” s/he may mean “inferior” in some way. “Inferior” is a layer of limiting beliefs hiding a unique being craving to feel true to the Self and afraid for some reason to be it, whatever that is in each changing moment.
Authentic is aware, attentive, and able to adjust as needed. It’s not “perfect” or completed before its time. Even if you hesitate to trust your authenticity, and even if you must take gradual steps to allow yourself to feel your authenticity in each moment, feel the courage within you—in your best interest and right timing—and be comfortable with what is original about you. Do this and you’ll exchange feeling inauthentic for feeling enlivened. Authentic is a state of mind.
You are what you practice.