"Do I contradict myself? Very well, then I contradict myself.
I am large. I contain multitudes."
There’s a lot of instruction and lecturing and certainty out there in self-help-land about authenticity.
They tell us it’s a good thing to live and express our real, authentic self. They tell us it’s a necessary thing.
They tell us it’s a possible thing.
What they rarely tell us is what this highly-desired, “real, authentic self” thing even is.
Because let’s face it, these Me-things fluctuate. They vary based on context, situation, preference, conditioning.
So sometimes the individual self is kind and sometimes it’s mean and sometimes it's scared and sometimes it’s aware and sometimes it acts impulsively.
And no one is the same Me all the time.
Which means it's a temporary, changeable role.
So we're play-acting, image-making, giving a presentation.
That’s what we call “acting like” oneself.
Not being one’s actual self. Acting like it.
Which sounds more like “fake” than any particularly solid real to be authentic about.
I mean, there's no point in being authentic about a fake self.
And yet even so, we often experience a strong desire to experience congruency between some desire to speak or act, and a feeling in the body- the feeling that somehow seems to indicate, “You must say this in order to be true to yourself.”
Even though that’s just a feeling, a sense, or, to call it by its real name…
This is what authenticity, that highly vaunted state of being which we are supposed to strive for at all times, really comes down to...
A preference for one feeling over another.
Because set aside that preference, and we might notice that nothing real ever requires our expression in order to validate itself.
It’s real already. Human expression adds no additional realness.
So it needs zero validation. Because, yknow, real. Regardless of how we feel.
It’s already authentic just fine, thank you very much- it don’t need no stinkin' authenticity.
So authenticity is a meaningless concept whose only purpose is to create a never ending project, something unattainable to strive for.
And Alan Watts had it right (as usual) when he said we are all, always, genuine fakes.
Because it's not possible for the false self to ever be authentic.
Now perhaps you can see what this means.
It means since all the facets of the Me are pretend, then it’s possible, and we might as well,
Have fun with them all.
We can invite every role, even the parts that “feel like” they’re not authentic, to come and read their scripts. We can put on a puppet show, or a neighborhood skit.
Whee! I’ll play Judy, the weird nutty friend who never says what anyone expects.
At least for today.
Who do you want to be? Let’s invite them all!
Bring on smiling self, deceptive self, bored self, angry self, sad self, laughing self. Bring on loving self, aware-and-blissed-out self, and completely-reactive-don’t-get-it self, too.
None of them are an unchangeable real Me. So none have to ever be any different.
And none require us to be true and authentic to any of them.
Meanwhile, whatever it is that contains all the variability making up these individuals…
That is not itself variable.
That is always its authentic, real, true self.
No human striving necessary.
And it contains…
So go on. Be a genuine fake like everyone else.
The real deal.
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"When it’s all over, it’s time to be a human being in the world again,
and that means slipping back into costume and getting back on stage.”―Jed McKenna