I am not so good at it these days. A whole lot of reasons really, sometimes I think I am just too old for that crap these days, but am I? I gave my children some money to spend on clothes the other day, not a whole lot but enough for a few things and then I did something I haven’t often done, I stood back and left them to it and they went and bought clothes. My daughter, a beautiful young woman bought herself a pair of boyfriend jeans, similar to these but with a few more rips and frays etc. I remember once saying to myself as a friend bought some “pre stressed jeans” bloody hell, paying extra for half worn out s..t!
Well my only instructions to my children were to consider the season, we are going into winter and she did that, they were not shorts! Well my daughter proudly showed me her loot and produced these jeans and then asked me if I liked them, and like George Washington and not Bill Clinton I could not tell a lie and said I didn’t, she was devastated.
I was at pains to assure her that actually it didn’t matter what I thought as it was her choice but she was still disappointed. Now should I have said something different? Well so it is with my life. I can paint on a grin for a while but when things are not so flash it is not hard to read me. I was reminded of this the other day when a student was really concerned about me, I re-plastered my grin and said I was fine when on the inside I was far from that. Most people who know me are not that easily fooled.
I have been told before that I wear my heart on my sleeve and I guess I do in a lot of ways, I can be very professional and have had to be at times when dealing with trauma and damaged children, with dealing with offenders who are repugnant to me I have remained relatively dispassionate and nearly always professional, rapists, killers, pedophiles I have worked with them all. I have had friends who are racist and bigots, although these days most of them are gone by the wayside as I am want to be truthful with them.But if you know me then you will know, if you ask a straight question you will get a straight answer.If you ask me how I am I will tell you, it may be the edited version but it will be authentic. Sometimes it may be warts and all, and sometimes that is not so pretty. But like I say often, never ask a question that you do not want to hear the answer to.
I read this little piece in Relevant magazine a few weeks ago it said that “authenticity begins with acknowledging, rather than hiding, that we have shadows in our souls” In some ways I count the ability to be truthful with others as a burden because to be truthful to others is to be truthful to yourself first. In doing so we face our own shadows, our imperfections, foibles and frailties. On a personal level, authenticity begins with acknowledging, rather than hiding, that we have shadows in our souls. http://www.relevantmagazine.com/god/practical-faith/there-such-thing-being-too-authentic#Oy126vbiR4rBh2oD.99
Often in reply to being asked how I am I say that God is good and his mercy is everlasting because I am a terrible sinner at times. I try to be authentic as much as I can, as a teacher when I read a piece of work I look for something to say that is encouraging and truthful like hey that’s great so much better than last week, here is what we have to do to improve it. You won’t get bullshit from me however, if it doesn’t meet the mark I will tell you whether you are a student, a boss, a politician, lover or friend. It is a risky business at times because there are many people who cannot handle authenticity because I think that it exposes the shadows in their own souls, for some they are shadows that have not seen the light ever or for a very long time, and people can be very afraid that should those shadows see light they may consume them and shake their worlds beyond that which they can handle. They often remain crippled by doubt and making the same mistakes in life and love over and over again, and yet I am told it is that authenticity which makes my writing compelling and interesting, a reader wrote to me that they felt almost like a voyeur reading my writing, almost like looking in my lounge window yet they felt drawn to read more.
So for me being authentic remains at my core, it drives my belief in family, friendship and love. It would be so much easier to be less authentic and I am sure that I have paid what at times seems to be a high cost for authenticity and I may be about to pay the price again as I grapple with decisions I need to make but I know this for sure that authenticity is that which gives me hope for the future, it enables me to have relationship at all and to look in the mirror. Authenticity gives me integrity and without integrity I am nothing merely dust on the soles of a dirty pair of shoes.
We have to dare to be ourselves, however frightening or strange that self may prove to be.”