Does Anybody Really Know Who You Are? Do You?
This is the sixth in a series of articles about community building. We’re talking about authenticity, the cohesive factor of genuine community. Does anybody really know who you are? Do you?! Grab a cup of tea or coffee, settle in and share your thoughts!
I do not believe there is anything more painful to a human being than the grief of not being Who You Are. The pain this brings is so excruciating that most of us have blocked it out completely. Read: we don’t even know that we are not our authentic selves. We’ve even blocked out the blocking out of the truth so that nothing remains but the person we have learned to be.
Many years ago someone gave me a copy of John Bradshaw’s book “Homecoming.” Through the years, these words still ring out in my memory; “You were not allowed to be the very one you were.” Bradshaw knew about authenticity and the pain of not expressing your own. He knew what Psychiatrists and Psychologists know; we learn when we are very young to suppress our truest selves, to “behave” in the way that gains acceptance, love and affirmation for us. We choose to be affirmed for the person we are pretending to be rather than not being affirmed for the one we are.
Who are you? Do you know? Who are you when you are alone, when there is no one there you need to impress? Do you have a group of people around whom you can be who you truly are? Community is such a place. In a genuine community, the people learn that it is safe to be authentic, in fact, that authenticity is the norm. It’s not easy to drop the masks we sport and roles we are accustomed to playing but it comes with great relief (and release) and it feels, as Bradshaw knew, like a Homecoming.
Authenticity means being who you are, but how can you be who you truly are until you know who you are? The journey to authenticity is not an easy one; in fact, it is one that most people don’t even attempt to make.
A community is a healing place. In the safe, loving environment of a community, we can discover who we really are and celebrate that person, perhaps for the first time since we were children. A community is a safe place because of the other pillars of commitment, inclusivity, shared leadership, collaboration and camaraderie (and one we’ve yet to discuss), but authenticity is like the warm hug that welcomes you when you arrive home. When you know that the people you’re with are genuine, not false, you can relax and be yourself, whoever you perceive this to be.
Do you have a community; a group of people around whom you can be who you truly are? How would you define authenticity? Do you know who you are?