of undisputed origin; genuine.
“the letter is now accepted as an authentic document”
genuine, real, bona fide, true, veritable;
legitimate, lawful, legal, valid;
informal – the real McCoy, the real thing, kosher
Above is Google’s cookie-cutter definition of authenticity. It has taken me over twenty-four years to even begin letting this word resonate in my 21st century-paced mind.
I knew the definition before. I could use it in proper context. I even used #liveauthentic in several Instagram posts. However, it has taken four close family deaths, inexhaustible prayers for my father’s life, traveling through eleven countries, learning how to do life while in a stupid amount of love, and [rightfully] questioning my mental health to actually embrace the word.
In a world that constantly tells you to look like this:
I [fortunately] learned early in life that I can live quite happily looking like this:
Curly hair, uneven dimples, acne, and a size 10 ass. These are just a few [of my favorite things] to start with. There is not one ugly thing about my physical self, though if I listened to society and/or the media I would certainly believe differently.
It didn’t take much motivation or work to authentically embrace my physical traits. I understand that “beauty” is an industry—a thriving industry that capitalizes on “imperfections” and low self-esteem. It also helps that I had loving and encouraging parents that tried to raise me to be confident in my whole self, starting with character and morals.
It did, however, take me a while to understand authenticity on a deeper, much more meaningful level. Sure, I’ve been known for being genuine. I have a loving nature and light personality that shows without effort or force, but even that is somewhat surface level. A stranger on a plane can spot these attributes. (For the record, I’m well aware of the demons lurking in my shadows, too.)
Learning how to embrace who you are, what you want to do, what you want out of life, and then living unapologetically in a way that reflects your talents, goals, and passions—that is how [I think] you #liveauthentic.
I’m no expert in authenticity. I still get caught up in the BS of everyday life in the First World. There are so many how-to books, social influencers, and AWESOME PEOPLE to look up to, but that doesn’t mean we have to follow unwritten rules on how to live this life.
I always assumed I would graduate from college and go straight into my career. That career would look very similar to those in the same field. But then I studied abroad in college and my world unfolded. So many new doors opened and I realized that I was given the life tools (a brain and decent sense of adventure) to clear my own path. So I started looking deeper into opportunities that made my heart flutter. I almost let the usual societal “norms” pressure me into a path that I’m just not meant for, until I started embracing my authenticity.
I am a dreamer and a doer. I’m a (newbie) writer with a creative eye and skills that need to be honed. I travel. I am in a love that lights my soul on fire. All of these things could still be true if I decided to walk the paved path, but I don’t want to.
I am not those who walked before me. No one else can tell my story, and no one else can write my book. I will not look to others to ask what my next move should be. I will not check social media and magazines to see how I should wear my hair and clothes, and I will not hide under a painted face.
I will embrace my authenticity instead of trying to mold it, and I will use my intuition when looking for it in others.
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Kalu Ndukwe Kalu
The things you do for yourself are gone when you are gone, but the things you do for others remain as your legacy.