— Initially wanted to call this The dark side to authenticity. But I think the standing title is more fitting. This might as well be a “fluff piece” because I’m not trying to draw attention to myself by pretending to have something profound to say. This piece is about as insignificant as anything else I’ve written. Don’t get me wrong — I know I’m a good writer, but that’s only because I’m my best cheerleader.
There’s something inherently funny about life, or rather, the process of living. I’m not a licensed psychologist, but there are things I’ve come across that are just beyond understanding — and I mean that in the negative sense.
You could put your all into something. And I mean your all and — ugh god, I have to provide context for what I’m trying to say if I hope to evoke it clearly.
Fine, let’s do it …
Do you know why I push for authenticity? Why it seems to be the only thing I can talk about each and every day?
There are many reasons, and I’ll go through all of them. I won’t be self-righteous and claim my reasons for wanting to be authentic were always “good” or for the best of reasons.
At first, I wanted to be authentic because I wanted to go to heaven. Nothing wrong with that — if that’s your thing.
Avid readers know that I no longer have a religious affiliation, so my reason to want to be authentic naturally changed.
The second time, my motivation to be authentic was to find a partner who was deserving to see that side of me; and not some shallow representation. Gotta be as forthcoming with who I am if I want that in return. Because authentic people find authentic people. Yeah, that’s precisely how the universe works. In fact, I declare it right now — I would know — look at me, I turned out reeaally well as you can plainly see. Well-adjusted. A gem among gems I say.
The third motivation came after one of the hardest breakups I’ve ever had to go through. Not because love failed — come on, love fails all the time. What really saddened me was how even the best attempts to be authentic and empathic were rewarded with egocentricity. You can be patient and it can be perceived as you being easy to fool or whatever other garbage goes on in peoples minds.
It’s funny — that in this world there are people who simply have no idea what to do with kindness. It baffles them. So they push and probe it until its gone then they say “See? It wasn’t real! It was fake all along!”. Its ridiculous; of course its gone. If you blow at a candle repeatedly the light will go away, what do you expect — The second coming?
When it comes to the nature of the universe, how special you think you are is nothing in the grand scheme of things. All your precious virtues will be placed lovingly on the conveyor belt of time and devoured in very much the same way as the person you believe to be deserving of it.
As some of you might have already guessed, the prior realization pushed me to re-adjust my motivations. Asking myself (yet again) why I wanted to be authentic. If I could be real and still get rejected, well, where do I go from there?
Fourth motivation: Go within. If I had to be fake or less intense with my emotions to be “accepted”, there was no point. Decided to be authentic for me, and me alone. Self-fulfillment and all that.
Worked for some time… really did. All the while, my circle got smaller and smaller. You’ve heard this story from myself and many others time and time again.
“My circle is getting smaller” … “My circle is smaller these days”
Most people say this. But there’s a difference between a social group thinning because you’re drifting apart with friends; and a social group thinning because it’s dawning on you that you’re surrounded by a**holes. A**holes you were once firmly a part of and certainly enabled like a moron. I was too distracted with heaven and a potential soul mate to notice the snakes that were in bed with me. Hell, I was one of those damned snakes.
I had my reality built on illusions. The foundation of this reality was based on a cost-reward system that continues to piss me off till this day. Do good and good will happen — what a joke.
We are human, we all make mistakes, but it gets me heated thinking about how much time and energy I put into illusions. You don’t do the right thing to get a happy ending. You don’t endure emotional or even physical abuse because your tormentor “Has it coming”. At some point you’re going to have to draw a line, take your freedom by force if you have to. I don’t want to regret any of it, because it made me who I am today, and I love who I’ve become — the snakes? Not so much. They would rather I play my role and be a good little boy.
When you choose to be authentic, dear reader. It’s up to you to decide just how far you are willing to go. It’s up to you to ask all the heavy-hitting questions you won’t necessarily like hearing answers to. With no input from anyone.
Who are you? (alone and with people)
What is important to you?
Who can you trust with your life?
These are just examples. There is far more you will have to look at. Then again, it all depends on who you are.
For some, the first question is all it takes to reach their standard for authenticity. And who am I to say if they are right or wrong? I really don’t care what these hypothetical people do with themselves. But I could say “I care” to convey myself as an empathic writer. Yeah, no thanks, I’ve got nothing to prove. Form your conclusions and believe what you want about me — because you’ll do that regardless of what I say.
I ask myself questions each and every day about each and every thing.
How are you feeling? Why are you feeling that? Was that person being insensitive or are you overthinking it? More importantly, how does it make you feel? Should you feel that way? Why? Okay. So they crossed your boundaries, now what?
This is one instance I documented as I spoke out loud. Giving my emotions and thoughts voice. I do this because It’s good for my soul. I do this because when I eventually look back, I can see how much I tried — how far I was willing to go to make something work. And if it fails, I’ll know I did my best; allowing me to burn bridges with clarity.
I would have called this prose piece The Dark Side to Authenticity for one simple reason.
Authenticity is pain.
The results of striving for authenticity are surprising and at the highest level, enlightening. But at the root of it, being authentic is a little like opening Pandora’s Box. It’s a little like venturing to parts of the universe yet to be theorized and trying to make sense of it; alone. There is only one you and no one can teach you how to be you. No one knows you more than you do — people can try, oh believe me they can try their damnedest — even pop a vein in the process, but all they’ll do is come close. Close to understanding the hedges. They haven’t even knocked on your door yet.
Which is why I find it ridiculous when someone says “I know you” sure buddy, sure. What else happened in your wet dreams? Did you become president? Learn you can fly? No? Then stop living through someone else.
— I know, I know, there is good when vying for authenticity. But that “good” comes paired with a medley of revelations. It becomes waaay too easy to scout narcissists, manipulation (conscious or otherwise) and how empathy continues to dwindle. I mentioned in a previous post how I stopped giving empathy to people who expected it from me. I actually don’t blame these people, I enabled most of them for years, they probably expect me to doll out empathy like some make-shift factory, but things changed.
Titles and perhaps even blood, don’t cloud my judgment anymore. You won’t just “do something” and then see me forgive and forget. Forgive? Sure, I’ll forgive you; for me, not for you. Forget? because you’re “family”. Hell no, fuck you and your impulsivity. You knowingly cross my boundaries, blame it on impulse, then you expect a free pass? Get the fuck out of my face with that bullshit.
You can’t bear the impulsivity of a newborn and expecting me to mother you. That’s not my job. If you can’t control yourself and end up saying or doing something hurtful I have no time for you. Go french kiss a bear trap and suck a cactus vine for all I care. It’s simple — think about what you want to say, choose whether you want to say it or not. But that’s too hard, isn’t it? Yeah? Well, so is talking to you.
God forbid these snakes you were once a part of find out you’re trying to work on yourself. They’ll act as some kind of arbiters, pushing your buttons to see if you really, really, really mean what you say (now that you’re trying to be authentic). Because if you’ve been a snake — building relationships around falsities — these snakes will assume your attempts to be authentic are just another illusion. They’ll try to test you, because if you fail to meet the standards you’ve set for yourself then their neuroticism is fed and they can sleep better at night believing they are “dominant”.
And when their test fails to illicit the intended reaction from you. They expect things to continue as usual. Because they somehow believe they are above the rules they set for others. Even getting surprised when you cut them off like you said you would.
Dear reader, authenticity means making hard judgments. Every day. Judgments you’ve probably avoided till disillusionment.
Do I continue talking to this person or not?
Does this person actually care about my well-being or is it all out of convenience?
And you’ll need to mull over and answer these questions and more without looking away. It doesn’t matter who it is; everyone will be present and accounted for. It’s not easy, because you care. You’ve probably known most of these people your whole life. And you might feel a little guilty for even entertaining the idea of cutting them off.
But it needs to happen. Without hesitation. Answering as honestly as you can, you know yourself after all.
The fifth motivation for authenticity. Fifth? What could possibly surpass being authentic for your own self-fulfillment?
The lack of choice, dear reader.
I almost embraced the dark triad unwittingly. Because I was tired of feeling sh*t. Emotions and feelings felt like pain when I was surrounded by people that would sometimes try to exploit them. Disappointment after disappointment. Emotions and feelings started to feel like a weakness — But that’s not true. I was to blame for constantly putting them in the wrong place.
Emotions are powerful if applied in the right place. I’m happy I didn’t allow myself to eventually forget how to feel. But I learnt something — how easy it is for anyone to go to a really dark place. I felt my empathy increase; and perhaps it took a glance into the darkness for me to learn how to moderate my empathy radial.
I can’t unsee what I’ve seen. I can’t unfeel what I’ve felt. After many cycles of looking within; I realized I’ve been tolerating many things out of fear of moving through this world alone. Making excuses for people; gas lighting myself; worsened by the fact that I don’t like confrontations. Unless lives are at stake I see confrontations as such a waste. You can’t reason with someone who is far more concerned with winning; absent motivation to reach a sound conclusion. You can’t help someone who isn’t even trying to help themselves.
You’d be surprised how much bandwidth you get when you have no toxic word salads to comb through, back-handed compliments to decipher or golden children to appease. I don’t hate these people. Some part of me feels sorry for them. They are grounded in fear.
Some part of us is afraid of something. There is no shame in that. I’m afraid of many things but it just so happens that “people” are nowhere in range.
The fifth motivation was born when I started practicing ego-deaths. A practice that plays on the outlier of asceticism. (I’m not Buddhist or a monk btw). I don’t even know how to take peoples’ compliments anymore. Younger me would eat it all up and use that to further cement my illusions. After all, engagement meant validation. The more people who agreed with me the more I felt certain I was on the “right” path. My willpower was only as good as what people told me about me. But a consensus means nothing unless running for government. If I fool enough people to believe I’m a prophet, that doesn’t make me a prophet. It only means I fooled enough people into thinking I’m a prophet.
I’ve since toppled all those towers.
Present me appreciates when people give compliments; but that’s where it stops. Appreciating that they’ve taken the time to say something nice (when they could have chosen to be doing anything else) but their words do not add or subtract anything from me.
Last week I kinda overdid it with the ego deaths, wanting to see just how far I could go. I felt so hollow. So receptive to all manner of energies. It was exciting and anxiety inducing at the same time. I’m already a person who feels deeply and in this state everything was doubled. It was a small reminder to moderate. Just because ego deaths help me find my center, doesn’t mean I need to abuse them.
Don’t want to get into unnecessary details so I’ll skip ahead.
Being authentic used to be a choice. A choice when I had embraced all my strengths and weaknesses. When I firmly believed in my ego. When I believed certain people to be templates for where I want to go in life. But no longer. I feel a part of me die each and every time I think of pretending. Parts of me already died from giving some of these people way too many chances to get their act together. And I’ll be damned if they get the last part of me I have left. This last part of me is not going to be shared with anyone if I have a say in it.
Wow. You got this far? Thanks. Not often complete strangers take in the babble of another stranger. I could never promise anything apart from offering what I feel deep within. The truth is, I will only ever write what I feel and nothing else. I love writing, but I’ve long accepted that the road I’m taking will have a lot of resistance. I’m not necessarily saying things people want to hear; and that’s okay. I’ve made peace with that.
What matters to me are the genuine connections I’ve made here and the ones I’ll continue to make. 1? 5? 10 readers? Doesn’t matter as long as they are authentic. Those people will see me show parts of my soul every step of the way.
– O.D. ©2021
Art by: Razaras