Let’s not lie to ourselves. We live in a world that opposes authentic living, and one that regularly asks questions of the true value of authenticity.
If living authentically was that easy, everyone would be doing it. Yet we constantly see the opposite at work in our daily lives.
We work in workplaces that tell us that to be seen as a good and valuable worker we must be constantly switched on and plugged in.
We serve in many Church communities that carry unspoken expectations of its members to be ready made saints, perpetuating a system where sinners or those less active feel less deserving of communal love and are ostracized, before falling off the radar altogether.
We are shaped by a society that constantly tells us we have to look good all the time, and to be nice and appear kind to others at all costs, so as to be well liked and gain acceptance.
Yet all that this culture of self-preservation has done is to reinforce the false selves that have been created, putting up walls in a world of hypocrites, rewarding cowardice and making even the brave few who dare to risk being themselves think twice.
But be it earlier or later on in our lives, everyone reaches a point of crises where we start to question our own purpose and existence if we haven’t been living true to our real selves.
Whether this is at a point where we have amassed all of wealth, popularity, social status, desirability and yet still feel empty; or an act of God in which we lose our job or a family member or loved one and our world is turned upside down, everyone comes to that same fork in the road.
For when all else has been stripped away, the only thing that remains in our life is relationships. Our relationship with ourselves, our relationship with God, and our relationships with the people that remain in our story whom we have the privilege to share our lives with.
For us to reclaim that true freedom which we were all created for first requires us to strip ourselves of all expectations. Learning to be human again begins by dropping the act, to stop trying to impress others, and to stop striving to please.
It begins by realising that it is completely alright to say that we are not okay when we don’t feel okay, and to give ourselves permission to be ourselves.
Indeed the first step in building those deep, meaningful and human connections that our hearts yearn for, is to remove the very masks which we have been taught to put on our faces for so long in our lives.
For there can be no authenticity without vulnerability. Just as there can be no true kindness, love and compassion, without first encountering the freedom to be ourselves.
Anything else that comes before, however real it may seem, is but an act that will never last.