What does it really mean to be authentic?

authenticOver the past month or so, I’ve been noticing that I have a tendency to be most driven to write when I’m going through a difficult experience. The act of writing about my challenges helps me process them and find insights and solutions I had not yet thought of.

As started to write my “next” blog post around Thanksgiving, I came up with a lot of ideas, but they were all related in some way to the struggle,  the obstacles I was facing, and this bothered me.

As I thought about my recent posts, it was quite clear to me that they were all centered on difficulty.

I started to wonder … Was I overemphasizing the negative in my quest to be authentic? Or even worse was I actually attracting more challenges by focusing on them?

And what concerned me even more was the fear that I was losing my audience by writing too much about my struggles …

You see, the last thing I want is for it to seem that I am writing this blog as a method to seek help, affirmation, or even worse sympathy.

I thought about it long and hard and I even brought the subject to my most trusted advisors, the amazing gals in my AA2 group (Artist Alliance not Alcoholics Anon). We had a great discussion. But at the end of our meeting, I had no real answers.

The only really conclusion I came to was that I needed to take a break to define more clearly what I wanted to do with this blog and its ultimate purpose.

I knew that authenticity was important to me, but equally important to me was feeling good about what I was putting out there in the world. I want to inspire and encourage artists to go after their deepest desires.

It is important to me that I be authentic and share both successes and failures because the all-to-frequent perception that success happens overnight just isn’t true. Nor is it true that it is easy to be an actor. Artists have to work hard and face challenges all the time, even when they are on Broadway or making millions for a single film.

Sharing some of my not-so-triumphant moments as well as my process is part of me putting a very human face on it all. Because if other artists like me are struggling, I don’t want them to feel alone or lose hope for their success. Because that would be a huge loss to the world!

But what is the right balance of positive to negative and successes to struggles for me to share? A balance that will ultimately feel authentic, stay true to my inner optimist, but not cast an overly rosy grow on things.

Can I give myself space to simmer on some of my challenges and not feel like I have to write about it? Is choosing to write about something else while I process a challenge an empowered choice or the outgrowth of my desire to just look good?

Can I maintain authenticity while celebrating my successes? 

For greater clarity, I decided to look it up. According to the American Heritage Concise Third Edition (sitting on my desk):

Authentic:  1) Worthy of trust, reliance, or belief.
2) Having claimed and verifiable origin or authorship.

Authenticity: Syns: authentic, bona fide, genuine, real, true.

After reading this in black and white, I found tremendous clarity. I can only judge myself for being authentic based on my own definition. Undoubtedly, people will have their own individual standards for authenticity, but there is no way I can please everyone!

So what is my definition?

Authenticity for me is about telling the truth, and ultimately being myself. If I made up a story about how everything was going great when it wasn’t, yes, that would be inauthentic, but making choices about what to share and when to share it is absolutely empowering. If I can’t write about it in a way that I feel good about sharing it, then the world will probably be better served by me processing it more. And sometimes it just takes time to get there!

And if things are going well, it is 100% authentic for me to share that too. No apologies!

How do you define authenticity in your work? Do you ever struggle with authenticity in how you share your work with the world ? I would love to hear about experiences you’ve had in the comments below.

xo,

Natalie

4 Responses to What does it really mean to be authentic?

  1. David Perlman says:

    This is great!!!

  2. Zoe says:

    Oh god this is the buzzword from my reflections on my NYE disaster 14/15. How do you stay true to yourself as a human being when as a performer you are called upon to sell something you don’t believe in? It feels so dirty and dishonest. Do you “fake it till you (hopefully) make it?” or do you jump ship? Still on the fence.

    • natalie@neckyfarow.com says:

      Zoe, it is good to hear that I’m not the only one struggling with what it means to be authentic in my work and the choices I am making relative to it. I am starting to think this is a lifelong process and that the authenticity judgement is actually pretty unique related to each set of circumstances. Good luck with your decision. I’ll be curious to see where things end up landing for you.

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