The problem with authenticity
Dear Izzy, Max, and Kate,
The problem with authenticity is that the world hates it. Most people, collectively, don’t want you to be you. They want you to be like them. That’s how they hide in the crowd. The problem with real authenticity is that it may cost you everything.
That’s part of the hard truth about “growing up”.
Yesterday Mommy sent me a message telling me that she was thinking about me. She said she has been into existentialism lately (she’s smart). She came across a definition of “authenticity” and emailed it to me, saying that it made her think about me.
DEFINITION: In existentialism, authenticity is the degree to which one is true to one’s own personality, spirit, or character, despite external pressures; the conscious self is seen as coming to terms with being in a material world and with encountering external forces, pressures and influences which are very different from, and other than, itself. A lack of authenticity is considered in existentialism to be bad faith.
I was humbled by her identifying me in those words. It’s who I was when she met me. But it’s not who I had become in my adult years. The “coming to terms” with the struggle is the hard part.
Until August of 2011 I felt like I had been living in bad faith for too long. That, despite knowing my true self, I was living a life chained to external pressures that didn’t make me happy. More respect. More power. More money. More stuff. I was wrestling with it all.
I set out to become myself again. And while I haven’ fully realized that journey, I’m back on the path. I ask “why” more now. It’s how I measure my work life, my life at home, my Faith, and yes, my athletic life. Why race if it’s not fun? Why race at all?
I see true authenticity in each of you kids. You’re still young, and while the world tries to form you into it’s mold, I’m doing my best to encourage you to be true to yourself. It’s a tragedy to be true to anyone else. Each of you is unique.
Izzy, you’re our tender-hearted, Faith led, athletic child. Everyone who knows you says how “special” you and how other kids are drawn to you. You care about people. You’re a peace keeper. There’s a peace about you that’s hard to understand. Adults and kids alike want to be around you. You love to read, write, draw, and make up recipes.
Max, you’re our wild man with a huge heart. You’re rough, tough, and covered with dirt and bumps and bruises, but you’re also a protector. You’re life is about protecting and serving your sisters. You always have kisses for your mommy and a wrestling match for your daddy. You eat ice cream, popsicles, and suckers in big bites instead of licks. You love tractors, trucks, and “working”.
Kate, you’re the definition of authenticity. You’re our wild haired hippy child. You “dance to the beat of your own drummer.” You have spunk beyond measure and we love you for it. It’s your spunk that kept you alive when you were a baby fighting for your life. You dress yourself in wild outfits that often include tie-dye, close your eyes and dance to Grateful Dead and Bob Marley, while making faces, and then laughing at our reactions to your antics. You can’t wait until Max is old enough to “play ball”…so you can watch. You love sweets and being held like a baby.
Never lose your will be be you. Never give up that fight. Don’t let the world tell you who you should be.
The problem with real authenticity is that it’s dangerous. And that’s exactly why you should pursue it. Dangerous authenticity is living the life God designed you for at all cost.
I love you,
“To be nobody but myself-in a world which is doing its best, night and day, to make me somebody else-means to fight the hardest battle any human can fight, and never stop fighting”. – e.e. cummings
“No one man can, for any considerable time, wear one face to himself, and another to the multitude, without finally getting bewildered as to which is the true one.” – Nathaniel Hawthorne
24 For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will save it. 25 For what does it profit a man if he gains the whole world and loses or forfeits himself? – LUKE 9:24-25
Sat: Rode 40 miles – 19mph avg.
Sun: Ran 10 miles – 8:24 per mile
Tues: Swam 1900 (included 3 x 500 at race pace) / Run 5 miles