To thine own self be true

Today’s post is brought to you by the letter A and the word AUTHENTIC.

Do you ever notice themes popping up in your life? Some people call these interconnected events coincidences. I call them things to which I choose to pay attention.

My theme for the past week was the word AUTHENTIC

It started last Monday when I saw a TV ad promoting vacations to Cuba. The ad described the country as AUTÉNTICA. This struck me. If I were to draw up a list of words about Cuba, authentic wouldn’t appear in the top 10. But no matter what my thoughts about Cuba are, the word auténtica stood out. (The ad campaign worked, apparently. I thought about Cuba, I wrote about Cuba, and now I have you thinking about Cuba.)

On Tuesday, the guest speaker at our Canadian Author’s Association meeting was Bob LeDrew of Translucid Communications. He spoke about social media, and when asked to share the most important things about using social media, he said, “Don’t be fake.” According to LeDrew, authenticity breeds internet success. 

On Thursday morning I opened a link forwarded to me by a friend. I clicked on it to find Neil Pasricha, author of The Book of Awesome, giving a TED talk entitled, “The 3 A’s of Awesome.”  One of the three A’s in Pasricha’s recipe for awesome was AUTHENTICITY. He pointed to the remarkable Rosey Grier as an example of a person who wasn’t afraid to share his authentic self. The 200-plus pound defensive tackle who was part of the “Fearsome Foursome” of the L.A. Rams enjoyed, of all things, needlepoint.

Defensive tackle + needlepoint = odd. When it first came out in the news, there were a lot of double-takes, but Rosey Grier shines in photos of him with needlepoint in hand. He’s happy.

At that point I already recognized AUTHENTIC as my word for the week.

Then on Sunday I went to church. As part of the service we heard the story of a woman who left a 20-year career in the high-tech industry to become a Registered Holistic Nutritionist. In her high-tech career she was well paid and “successful,” but unhappy. She went to work every day, keeping her authentic self hidden, smothered beneath obligations and expectations. But the authentic self didn’t want to stay hidden, and finally, she had to heed its calling. She left behind obligations and other people’s definitions of success and went back to school.

She graduated and is working in a health food store. She glows with joy and self-confidence and what I’ll call rightedness. When people from her former high-tech life come into the store, they do a double-take. To them, her new career choice seems odd. Then they look more closely and say, “You look really happy.”

It reminded me of a time a couple of years ago when the Ottawa Lynx baseball team was still in town. Their schedule always included a few weekday afternoon games which my flexible schedule allowed me to attend. I love baseball, and I wanted to go to a game, but no friends were available to join me. I hesitated, because a woman going to a baseball game by herself in the middle of the day is, well, odd. But I dug out my authentic self and went anyway thinking, “I won’t see anyone I know.” As I walked up to the entrance, one of the first people I met was a schoolteacher friend who was there with her class. She said, “Who are you here with?” I said, “Just me.” She did a double-take.

But you know, when I sat up in the stands by myself watching the game, I was really happy.

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