Day 28: Authenticity / by Jeff Tacklind

A goal of mine, while blogging during Lent, has been to write more authentically.  This is trickier than it sounds, because I’m constantly editing.  And truth be told, that isn’t always a bad thing.  There have definitely been times wisdom has had the final word, by a hair, and prevented me from saying the wrong thing, or even the right thing for the wrong reason.

But authenticity isn’t just a lack of editing.  It is a lack of BS (see there, I just edited.)  And that can be really difficult since we are always trying to project an ideal image of ourselves.  At least, I am. What that ideal might be varies incredibly from person to person, but we all have our strategies.  Even humility can be used to market oneself. 

As I’ve been blogging, I’ve been doing my best to walk that line between what is meaningful and what is simply true.  What is interesting and what is actual.  Writing every day helps.  If something crashes in loudly, it is hard to pick up my pen and write about something else that is easier, or more pithy. 

The other day I wrote a blog about criticism triggered by a letter of complaint I’d received.  I didn’t want to write about it, but I didn’t have a choice.  Either I did it, or I skipped writing that day…which would mean breaking a Lenten commitment, which has dire consequences.  (not really. I just said that for effect.)

And all of you responded so brilliantly with such encouraging words!  I am going to write a separate blog about encouragement, because that alone really worked me, and also did something deep in my heart. But today is about authenticity. 

Writing about that letter of criticism awakened some deep anxiety that is always lurking down there in the bottom of my heart.  It has become my old friend.  The anxiety hit me just after I pushed the ‘save and post’ button.  What have I done?  That was too much!  I’ve overshared.

Why?  Because I feel vulnerable.  I feel exposed.  And now my whole body hurts.  I feel jumpy, worried, weak.  Most of all I feel weak.

Brené Brown writes about telling her counselor that vulnerability feels excruciating and her counselor replies that it is an exquisite emotion.  Her whole premise is that vulnerability is the key to living a whole-hearted life.  Somehow, we must learn to savor the feeling.  To appreciate its exquisiteness.

I can imagine what that must be like.  After all, I hated my first sip of coffee, and now I can’t live without it.  Coffee was too bitter, and now that bitterness is all I want first thing in the morning.

Or the pain of a hard workout.  Who, honestly, wants to feel their legs or arms ache?  But if I pushed through some workout that I wasn’t sure I could survive (Insanity) and made it…well, that pain is almost the reward.  It is the reassurance that I’ve done something I can be proud of.

So here’s my little epiphany for the day.  That the excruciating feeling of vulnerability is the texture of courage.  So many of you responded to me with just that word of encouragement.  When I feel vulnerable, it means I have completed an emotional workout I wasn’t sure I was ready for. 

This doesn’t mean I’m going to go out of my way to write something painful each day, but I’m also not going to run from those feelings when they come.  When they do, I will try my best to associate them with the after effects of bravery.  And do my best to savor the feeling. 

Who knows, I might learn to like it.  Maybe I’ll learn to crave it, like coffee.  Maybe if I’m not vulnerable, by the afternoon, I’ll have a headache.  Either way, thank you all for teaching me a bit more about why authenticity is worth it.  I sure love you guys!