When I asked a young friend of mine if he wanted to live his life authentically, he said “of course!” When I asked him what he imagined that to be, he shrugged and wasn’t able to put words to what he felt and meant. Being authentic means, according to google, being genuine. Living authentically means that and more – is also means being ourselves and living that way the best we can.
Todd Henry talks about living an authentic life in his book The Accidential Creative.. In a recent interview with Maria Forleo, Henry goes one step further and talks about how we can express ourselves authentically, so that others can also see our authentic, truly creative selves. According to him, here are two things you need to know:
First, give yourself space – Henry calls this White Space. Take 10 deep breaths, go for a walk, take a long nap. If we are worrying, rushing, doing, we end up squeezing out the space we need internally to know what we want to say or create.
Next, understand that living authentically and creatively is U-Shaped. Henry likens it to walking from canyon top to canyon top: at the beginning we can see the top of the next rise with clarity and know exactly where we’re headed. As we descend, we can see only what’s immediately around us – the shrubs, dust, critters; we feel tired, hot and thirsty. At the bottom, we lose our sense of direction, and begin to wonder if this was such a good idea, and if we should have even started. Then, if we continue, we eventually emerge on the other side, feeling fantastic and knowing it was all worth it.
His point is that in the middle, we will always feel insecure and begin to question ourselves. This is true for anyone who goes through this process, no matter how many times they’ve gone through it before. The only way out is to stay with it to the end.
How Janet Mock began to live authentically at age 15