What’s important? Being authentic or sharing our sameness?

Authentic-adjective

  •  of undisputed origin; genuine: the letter is now accepted as an authentic document | authentic 14th-century furniture.
  •    made or done in the traditional or original way, or in a way that faithfully resembles an original: the restaurant serves authentic Italian meals | every detail of the movie was totally authentic.
  • based on facts; accurate or reliable: an authentic depiction of the situation.

When I was asked to be a guest blogger for “The Authenticity Blog,” a blog written by a woman young enough to be my daughter, I was flattered.And nervous.  I asked what she was looking for, and she replied, “It can be anything you want!  The theme is just authentic emotions or experiences, and anything that shows your unique perspective…”

Hmmm, my blog is nothing but my own “authentic emotions or experiences.”  I almost just recycled one of my 800 plus posts, but that word, authentic, spent three days rolling around in my head.  What is authentic?  The easiest answer is an original.  But writers in Hollywood would argue there aren’t any authentic ideas.  At least not anymore.  I have always craved being an original.  In high school, I designed and had my prom dresses made.  There was no way in hell I was walking into that dance to see someone else in the same outfit.  Butta (my nickname for my mama) also made many of my clothes, simply so I would be “authentic.”  

As an adult, I frequently change my hair, in a desire to be an original.  Six months ago I was mistaken for a neighbor and I immediately texted my amazing hairstylist, “I either am hacking my hair or growing it.  When do you have time?”  In the end, I’ve been growing it.  

But in many ways, my authenticity seems to end there.  I am the profane version of June Cleaver.  I have never had a regular job. I make my kids breakfast, lunch, and dinner.  Almost every day.  I scrapbook.  I’m the Girl Scout leader.  I wear yoga pants.  I go to book club, and don’t actually talk about the book.  I cheer at every game.  

And I have loved every. single. second.  I don’t care if I’m just like every other mom in suburban America.

But I’m having a crisis.  And there is nothing authentic about my crisis.  My job will be ending in four short years.  My oldest is leaving me in less than six months.  And every one of my friends is having the exact same crisis.  And many of them are re-inventing themselves.  Going back to work.  Finding a new “authentic self.”  And I’ve tried.  I’ve been writing.  Trust me, I’m not writing the “Great American Novel.” And there is nothing new about a 46, almost 47 year old woman having a crisis and trying to find a new direction.  

But today, I’m feeling anything but authentic.  I have found myself weepy several times in the last few days.  And I don’t think there is anything original or authentic in these emotions.  I can’t shake the feeling I’ve pushed my parents closer to old age by helping them move.  I can’t shake the feeling I will never get myself back to my goal weight.  I can’t shake the feeling I am wasting every second I write.  I can’t shake the feeling I’ve completely embarrassed myself by publishing anything.  I can’t shake the feeling I’ve screwed up my kids in a plethora of ways.   

My shrink says it’s mourning.  

Mourn: Verb: to show or feel deep sorrow.  

Yep.  Lots of mourning going on.  And I’m tired of hearing myself moan.  What helps me is knowing I’m not authentic.  I’m not the only one feeling this way.  I’m not the first.  I won’t be the last.  

But today…today, I might be crying if you see me.  And that’s OK.  I just hope I don’t drown myself in cookie dough ice cream and beer.  It might be authentic to love ice cream and beer at the same time, but it ain’t going to help me.

Today, our authenticity might be accepting the strength our shared experiences give us.

Heidi Graham

Celebrate!  Today is a new day.

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