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I’ve always admired authentic people, who live life according to their own rules. People that are so intense that they stand out from the crowd. People who speak their minds and are not afraid to be different. I’ve always found these “characters” incredibly interesting and since I was a child, I’ve watched these unique beings, with a passionate curiosity.
I wanted to be like David Bowie, Iris Apfel, Rossy de Palma or any Almodóvar’s or Fellini’s movie characters. With extravagant clothes, exuberant colors, with a refined humor, with a pinch of madness, eccentricity and somewhat intellectual. An exaggerated person, but who admires the little things and knows how to enjoy life spontaneously and lightly. I wanted to be the character in “La Dolce Vita”, that enters with her ball gown in a fountain in the middle of the night and plays like child but with a Bella Donna’s poise.
For a period in my life, I used to put flowers in my hair every single day. Fabric flowers with feathers, sequins or beads, they could be huge or discreet, it didn't matter. I had a gigantic collection of these ornaments; one for each occasion. It was my trademark. Another signature trade is my laughter, which I know may bother a lot of people, it is loud and remarkable, but it is mine and it is spontaneous. Never the less, I have a strong personality and I know how to defend my opinions. I like discussions that provoke reflection.
However, I feel that over the years, as I became an adult, I stopped using flowers in my hair, now I wear sober clothes with little color, I control my laughter depending on the environment and I avoid discussions that can generate some kind of discomfort. Did I put my authenticity aside?
As we face challenges in our lives, we end up letting ourselves go and our personal heroes as well. We end up conforming to fit into the molds that best adapt in society. I am still a strong opinionated person, but at some point I stopped defending my mind all the time. Which is good to be more understanding and flexible. But like most teenagers, who grow up to be adults who live life in a predictable and controlled way, I also grew up. I know that I still possess that flame that burns and screams inside of me, but it is now my secret fuel and I keep it under control. I'm sure that many people who really knows me, still see what was much more visible before. But who just met me may not have a clue of what I’m made of. I heard recently that I am a shy and introverted person. When I was a teen I could never imagine that I would ever hear that. Yes, in a way, I’ve always been shy, but I think I hid it very well, or at least that's what I thought.
Thinking about it, I ask myself, why do we stop being authentic? Is it because we are constantly relating with other people, that we end up polishing ourselves to fit within the expectations of others, whether at work, in the family or any type of relationship? I imagine this often occurs, because the way we function as a society. We are constantly seeking other people’s approval. We want to fit in, out of fear of not being loved, accepted or noticed, therefore, we adapt and end up losing our authenticity. Or, perhaps, just because it’s easier to follow the tide rather than to swim against the current.
But after all, what does it mean to be authentic? You don't have to be the black sheep of the family, or the person who breaks all the rules, who is constantly questioning the norm. Of course, there are people who feel authentic that way and it’s fine. But being truly authentic, and what it really means is to do or to be whatever feels what’s right for you, simple like that. It is to follow that desire that burns inside you. And for that you have to know yourself and know what brings you pleasure and what are your boundaries. It is knowing when not to do what hurts you, just because it is what is expected of you. Or it means doing what you love, despite the expectations that others have of you. Thinking like that, I realize that being authentic is not necessarily in the clothes you wear, the behaviors that shock or the way you laugh. To be authentic is to respect yourself in the first place. It is knowing yourself well and knowing what you love. It is living according to your rules and your inner truth.
I feel that more and more of us have been disconnecting from these more sensitive senses by connecting - or absorbing - too much of our surrounding. And especially by letting the noises of the surrounding affect our inner voice. We listen and get very involved with other people’s thoughts and opinions. The networks. Virtual or not. We are erasing our internal voices. And who is paying the highest price is our own intuition.
"You just have to believe". Not because believing is the only thing that has to be done, but because when doubt holds us down, our desire to create has to push us forward.