Authenticity is something I write and think about a lot. But lately, I've started questioning my concept of authenticity. Doing what feels natural and true to myself is something I've always thought of as being the authentic choice. But, I'm beginning to understand that many of the things I do naturally, the ways-of-being that I gravitate towards, arise out of bad experiences I've had. They don't come from some Platonic ideal embedded in my consciousness, rather as proven mechanisms for surviving stressful situations.
What's worse, some of those "natural" ways of behaving that I have so long thought of as being my authentic self are actually running contrary to my goals. To give an relatable example: It is natural for me to shy away from social events, to retreat and spend time alone and to choose work over fun. But high on the list of things I want are making real connections with people and working less. So, my natural setting is running contrary to my desired outcome and I end up creating a life that feels natural on one level but unhappy on another.
And then I end up in knots. Which all feeds that feeling of being a fuck-up, of getting no closer to the things I want and of feeling incomplete. Over a year ago, I wrote a post about eudaimonia, or "the good life". I think I need to start thinking of my behaviour today as feeding that kind of eudaimoniac authenticity, rather than the more immediate, natural kind. Which is to say, I need to dig deeper and overcome myself in some areas in order to end up with my own version of "the good life" and to come closer to my truly authentic self.
Image by Cig Harvey