Kelly: What Does Authenticity Mean?
Well, the fog I described last week is lifting, but I continue to be a scattered-brained mess! 🙂 My house looks like a tornado hit, and as I sit here in my little office, I’m surrounded by fake dollar bills (the play kind, just so you Feds know, I’m not creating dollar bills here), an atlas, Ebay and Etsy receipts, three cameras, my new deposit slips, stamp and fancy checkbook for my business checking account, scribbled notes written while trying to find a hotel for our trip up to North Georgia later this week (thus the atlas mentioned earlier…who knew we’d be visiting Aunt Livy the same four days as a huge gospel fest AND softball tournament in the same area?), a few shells, baby lotion, kids shampoo, a large comb, innumerable blankets, quilts and scarves the girls have pulled out of their room to play with, and um, a reindeer that poops jelly beans. And that’s all just in my little 5’ x 5’ office nook! And that doesn’t include the “normal” office stuff that’s supposed to be here! The rest of my house is currently in a similar state. Oh well.
I made this necklace a couple weeks ago while my friend Dana was over for a play date. It’s now in my Etsy store here. That big piece of jade up front used to be in a different piece that I’ve had laying around for a while, so I reworked it for summer. Dana just finished Florence, and we were celebrating. Who is Florence, you ask? Florence is a mannequin Dana collaged from head to toe with all sorts of fabulous stuff. Took her two years! Serious dedication there! My only suggestion was that she change out Florence’s boring brown wig for a hot pink one. That was my contribution, and we both feel it was the finishing touch. Sorry, no pictures of Florence to share with you because Dana is thinking about starting a blog, and when I suggested that maybe it could be Florence’s blog, Dana’s face lit up. So I’m hoping she’ll follow through with that, and THEN Dana will share pictures of Florence with you.
When talking about Florence and her potential blog, Dana and I got on the subject of authenticity, which seems to be the biggest buzz word in blogging. We talked about what we think that means. What the heck does that mean anyway? Dana is a psychology instructor, and though we are very dear friends, we have very different approaches on life. Dana, God bless her, is a mega-analyzer. And I’m really, um, not. I’ll analyze temporarily, but then I’m over it; the old “it is what it is” motto I live by. Experience it, learn from it, move on. And while I certainly touch on my personal life here, I try my darndest not to dwell on issues I may be struggling with. Hashing out my problems, insecurities, fears, what have you, in a public forum is just not how I process things. Other people do, and if that works for them, I think that’s great! But just because someone chooses not to hash out those things on a blog, does that mean she is not being authentic? I certainly do not think so, and it’s that line of thinking that really bugs me about authenticity talk.
Lori mentioned something similar on her blog a while back, and she has the exact same outlook on life that I do (one of the many reasons I love you Lori!). No one’s life is perfect. Bad things happen to everyone, regardless of whether you are a stay at home mom or working mom, regardless of your income or lack thereof, regardless of your marital status, regardless of where you live and whether you have a river in your backyard or not, regardless of what you choose to share and choose not to share. Bad stuff just happens. That’s just life. The one thing that we all have in common is that we all have the choice regarding how we react to that bad stuff. We all have the choice of whether or not to choose happiness or dwell on the negative. 99 times out of 100, I choose to be happy. Am I Pollyanna-ish enough to think that I’m, therefore, going to be happy every single second of every single day? Heck no! I have my moments. But when I’m not in a happy place, I typically choose not to share that with the world. That’s what works for me. That is the “authentic” me, take ‘er or leave ‘er. And I eat lots of chocolate and lick batter directly out of the brownie batter bowl.
[cross-posted from Artful Happiness]
As I am progressing further into my 40’s I am realizing “it is what it is” is really the only answer for some things. Man, what a load off that is that I do not have to figure it all out.
I totally agree, Robin. At a certain point the continual analysis just starts to look like navel-gazing. I think it’s important to allow yourself to feel crappy if you feel crappy — acknowledge it rather than fighting it — but then it’s time to let the crappiness go. Examining each angle over and over again — and asking all your friends to weigh in — gets a little old.
There is definitely a difference between “authenticity” and “letting it all hang out there for the world to see.” There’s also no need to highlight all of your “issues” just so that you can bond with the masses via internet. Sometimes it seems like these issues are manufactured, or at least blown well out of proportion, just so that someone has something to say and can keep the focus on himself or herself.
If you want to find problems to talk/write about, you will. This is one reason why I think that prolonged psychotherapy — certainly couples therapy — can be dangerous. Sit down in a room for 50 minutes and come up with things to talk about? Sure, if you’re in the middle of a crisis and you need help figuring out how to navigate that crisis, therapy can help. But when the weeks and months pass and the crisis is long passed, in my personal experience, therapy can become a way to perpetuate your problems and even blow very minor issues into major issues as if to rationalize the need for therapy.
Barring serious mental health issues, I firmly agree with Kelly. Happiness is a choice. Making the choice to be happy does not mean that you’re living in denial. Rather it means that you accept life for what it is.
“There is definitely a difference between “authenticity” and “letting it all hang out there for the world to see.” There’s also no need to highlight all of your “issues” just so that you can bond with the masses via internet. Sometimes it seems like these issues are manufactured, or at least blown well out of proportion, just so that someone has something to say and can keep the focus on himself or herself.”
Here, here, Miranda! I realize that blogging in itself in an exercise in focusing on yourself, but the constant whining in the name of “being authentic” is what really turns me off. What prompted this post is some of the whining I’ve seen from bloggers complaining about their lack of time because of their kids (this is not referring to any of our Studio Mothers readers or contributors! :-), some even going so far as to say they really didn’t want kids to begin with. Having had to try so hard for so long to have my own children, that totally irks me. Most of us make conscious decisions to have children, or conscious decisions to not practice birth control of some sort. If you want to whine, fine, but do something constructive about it. If you are having a bad day and want to share it, fine, we all have them, but instead of just whining about it, do something about it! Make a choice to make it better. It’s that “letting it all hang out there for the world to see…so you can bond with the masses on the internet” Miranda mentioned that will keep me from coming back to that blog. I enjoy reading bloggers that are uplifting and inspiring, whether that be through their words, their art or both. And I try my best to keep my blog a happy place to visit and my bad days to myself unless I have a darned good lesson to share.