Authenticity: be you


I came across this on Pinterest last night and it was so in line with conversations I'd been having as well as thoughts that have been going round my head all week, so I'm going to try and write something on it.

Authenticity: knowing who you are and being brave enough to live it.

Authenticity is something I really value. It is a characteristic I admire in people and it is a trait I appreciate and look for in friendships. And it's a virtue I'd love to live out.

Definition:genuineness

Synonyms: accuracy, correctness, credibility, dependability, factualness, legitimacy, purity, realness, reliability, trustworthiness, truthfulness, validity, veritableness

It means to be genuine. It's a word we quite often use when describing someone: "He's such a genuine guy", meaning that they're very real. There's nothing fake about them – they're pure in who they are, and exhibit most of the synonyms listed above. It's something that actually, while it sounds straightforward and simple and obvious to live out, it's often not. We often have different versions of ourselves, different personas we use in different situations, or with different people. And sometimes that's ok – I.e. Your work self may be slightly more formal than your social self, or something along those lines. Which is fine. But often, it's nothing to do with that. Often we put on different versions of ourselves not for us, but for other people. We try and act and behave how we think others want us to. In ways we think will get us liked more, or more included. I've been doing it for years – I think everyone does it at some point and to some extent, particularly growing up. I don't know if the shy thing maybe accentuates it, but all through school and in the army as well, I would try and be who I thought my 'friends' wanted me to be. I'd try and be more like them, less like me. Whether that was kid stuff like trying to do my hair the same as theirs (I went through a phase in early high school of very slicked down pony tails cos that's what everyone else did…it was never a good look and with my thick crazy hair it was even worse!), or going to a club and attempting to dance, pretending it was something I remotely enjoyed, or imitating the language they use (be it good or bad!). I always thought that if I could be more like them (whoever 'they' happened to be at that time) then I would be fine. I would finally fit in. I would make better friendships. I would be liked more. I would succeed more. But frankly, that's a load of crap.

I guess for lots of people, it comes down to whether, or how much, you love or even like yourself in the first place. That surely will determine how much you want to be that other person – the other you, the 'better' version of you. And why is that? Like, why are we so much better at loving other people, at seeing their positives attributes and what makes them great, yet when it comes to us, we so often have negative-tinted glasses on. It can be like we're blinkered. We see what we can't do – the things we're not so good at, or the traits we don't have that others do. We see the things we think are holding us back, but never the things propelling us forward. Why do we struggle to build ourselves up, in the same way we would so easily encourage or compliment others? I would never speak to someone else the way I've so often put myself down. So why do we do it to ourselves?

I get wanting to be better in the sense of being kinder, more caring, more compassionate, more conscientious etc., but you don't need to change who you are to do that. Whether you believe in God and Christianity and that God made us in his image or not, being authentically you is the best thing you can do. You were made the way you are for a reason – traits, qualities, flaws and all – you literally wouldn't be you otherwise. Being authentic not only helps and benefits you – making you happier and confident, letting you worry less about who you're 'supposed' to be – but it makes your relationships more real, more genuine, and stronger too. And to me at least, that's super important. And judging by the amount of posts I found on Pinterest about 'being you', I don't think I'm the only one who thinks about this.

This post is super messy, but it's something I care a lot about. Being authentic is important to me. I've spent years trying to get out of the mindset that I should be or need to be someone else, to stop telling myself I'm not good enough, and I'm still trying to some extent, albeit a lot less. The other side of authenticity I find difficult is in relation to my faith or to the Salvation Army. And it really bugs me. But I think that's going to be another post in itself. When I'm not being super skeptical, I believe that God loves us for who we are, warts and all – 'we can't escape his love or take ourselves out of his care'. God loves you and your family and real friends love you for exactly who you are, so you need to do the same and love yourself too.

complete side note: sometimes it probably comes across that I'm completely miserable, or that I spend my entire life thinking or feeling down or in turmoil, beating myself up, but it's not like that at all. I mean, yeah I think lots, and sometimes I do struggle with faith/personal stuff/relationships, like everyone. I just write it down because it helps me process stuff and dwell on it less, in the way that people would keep a diary. I don't think I'm special or superior and I'm not looking for attention. I guess I share it in the hope that by being so open and honest, even one person might relate to something I write and realise it's not 'just them'. (Even if it means I get judged for posting or sharing it, or get a whole load of anxiety every time I do post!!) And anyway, I enjoy writing them, and I enjoy the discussions that occasionally come from them. ☺️

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How do you live like you believe? #questions

Well, that was an interesting night! I was strangely nervous/anxious for most of the day yesterday (Partly from being at the hairdressers, which every introvert knows is a traumatic experience in itself haha!) but also for the summer school festival at night. I was beyond excited to see and catch up with a few people, having spent the week texting them, wishing I was there to spend time with them in person. But I was also really apprehensive and anxious of what kind of emotions it would bring up. I've spent the week feeling strangely nostalgic, I sobbed for about 10 minutes on Sunday night, wishing I was there and having a serious case of fomo (fear of missing out 🙄😂), and I knew it would feel weird going back to Kilgraston in particular, somewhere I'd spent so many weeks of my life (especially weird going without Matt!). I know everyone stops going at some point and I'm not trying to be melodramatic or exaggerate at all, but when something has been such a big part of your life for so many years, it's really weird to not be involved. Anyway it was all fine! I mean it was weird to be there to listen rather than take part – I had to control my tear ducts when the whole school started singing at the start (and again near the end of the band piece Purpose…), but it was lovely to just be there and particularly to chat to everyone. (Me, aka super quiet, non-chatty Roslyn, was in fact literally the last person to leave the school. Maybe Matt's rubbing off on me after all 😉) Although it's true that I may have had (more than) a few tears when I got home… 🙄

The festival itself was great – everyone taking part played/sang/danced/acted/sported(?!) really well and to a great standard. For me, I really enjoyed the q&a with the new students, the multimedia video and the chat with the sports students – because from hearing them all speak, it was clear what an impact the week was having on them. Not only that, their faith, or at least their desire to explore that faith, was evident. Seems like the sign of a good week to me (and that's only the halfway point!)

I was really intrigued by the theme for the week – live like you believe. Because it's not necessarily an easy thing to do. As far as I'm aware they've been looking at different traits, such as compassion and accountability, and how to live these out. I'm actually really sad to be missing all of the teaching and cells. It's always been something I've looked forward to, particularly in recent years of going to summer school. I like being challenged, I like being made to think and I like hearing different perspectives and points of view. I'm even more sad to be missing tonight – a lot of people hate the Thursday night, but it's something I've always really enjoyed. It can involve a lot of emotion for some people, but that's something I actually like. I like that it's a space where it's acceptable to be emotional or vulnerable, without 'losing face' or whatever. There was a kind of stability to it for me – like a yearly opportunity to sit and take stock of where my life was, and where my faith was, and where it was all going next. I like the amount of support that is always there, from people you expect and those you don't. I love the opportunity it gives for conversation and discussions, so open and honest and real. That's the thing I've missed most this week I think. Those real, genuine, authentically honest conversations. They are my fav 💗

I do have a question though. (Wouldn't be me if I didn't!!) How do you 'Live like you believe' if you don't quite know what you believe? If you take the statement literally at least, then how does that work if you're unsure or just downright confused about God/religion/faith/Jesus etc.? If you don't know what bits you understand, what bits you believe or agree with, where does that leave you? (Or me!)

I go through spells of being really 'confident' in my faith – I pray a lot, I'll read lots, I'm enthusiastic. Then I give myself even a moment to think about it, and I realise I don't understand the majority of what I'm claiming to be enthusiastic about. That when I read bits in the bible, they don't make sense or are too far fetched. That I disagree with every defence of Christianity in a book full of questions about how real it is, or isn't. That I don't understand or believe in or agree with the hymn/song lyrics I belt out in the car or the shower. And then I feel really inauthentic, and hypocritical, and struggle to see the point in dealing with or caring about it at all. Why is it so complicated?

Traditionally, I'll spend at least part of the Thursday night sobbing to Matt/Ian/Sharon/Adam/Karen that I just don't get it or just don't believe it – that I want to believe it but I just don't. That I want to believe it and feel it but I just don't know how or understand what that really means. (Side note – I've been thinking a lot and reading a lot about having a 'personal relationship with God' – blog post to come at some point!) I'm sure they'll all be very glad not to have to deal with my constant 'but why? But how?' questions tonight 😂 But for me the questions all still stand.

So, how do you Live Like You Believe, particularly if you don't know what you believe? Summer School students (and staff!), I'm looking for answers and clarification from you! ☺️

(p.s…make the most of the rest of the week, and tonight especially. Ask the questions, have the conversations, be open to anything and be present in it all. 😌)