You know I am from the Midwest because when you ask me how I am, I answer you. This is, as my children’s minister pointed out to me, a trait I have passed on to my girls. Lucky for the Norman girls, she finds us charming. Don’t ask us how we are if you don’t want to know, because we will tell you. As it turns out, most people who throw a casual, how are you, my way does not actually want to know that I am exhausted, or that I am having big feelings about my big job change, or that my children are having big feelings about everything, causing me to about lose my mind three separate times on the way to church that morning.
It is hard being a hot mess. It is even harder when you are doing the best you can to tell the truth about it. Authentically living is just really hard.
This year, my New Year’s resolution was to feel all of my feelings. Next year I am totally going for something less painful and intense and will choose to complete a triathlon or offering to birth someone else’s baby. My feelings are exhausting, not even I knew I could be so happy and sad, so sure and so confused, all at the same time about the same events in my life. But the deeper I get into this authenticity thing the more I realize just how hard and beautiful this life is.
I used to think authenticity meant saying all the says, telling everyone everything that I thought or experienced. I am learning authentically living has a lot more to do with making the choices that are right for me, including choosing when not to share.
As a writer, it turns out, I have a pretty high tolerance for sharing all the things. I have written about pooping my pants in public, about gaining weight, about just how inadequate I sometimes feel as a parent. My family doesn’t mind. They too have a high tolerance for my whole self.
Not everyone will be ready for your authentic self. Not everyone wants to know how you are, even if they do ask while you are clearly fifteen seconds from crying. They may have not even had a chance to look at your face that hides no secrets. That is okay. It doesn’t make you a liar to smile and give them a “fine.” It makes you wise. Not going into it may be just what your authentic self needs.
In all my attempts at living authentically, I have found one thing to be true: everyone does it differently. You can’t follow someone else’s blueprint and end up with your own unique house. I tend to share more than others, to cry in public, to spill my guts when it is my turn to request prayer because I just desperately need it that week. That is how God built me. But it isn’t how God built some of my most authentic friends.
You have to find your own way, you have to try a lot of things on and see what fits, you have to build your own life from the ground up.
Authentically living is hard, but it is also totally worth it.
Post originally published on August 8, 2015.