Thursday, December 4, 2014

Authenticity

 Painting
photo by EK Wimmer

I went to the dentist last month for a regular exam. My hygienist Kylie is awesome, just the right blend of sarcastic and kind. She always remembers details, perhaps she writes them down, but still even that effort is cool. She will ask how an art opening went or how preschool is for Cordelia.  She is great, and certainly a large part of the reason that we stick with the dentist we see. While I was laying back in the chair, which she knows not to turn on the massage function (it feels like kidney punches), she teased me about the face I make when she uses the spit sucker...because it is so weird (my face and the spit sucker). Side note: She has named the spit sucker Mr. Thirsty. Anyway, we have a friendly vibe.

Then the dentist comes in and it all changes. Don't get me wrong, he is super nice and very professional, but he always says the wrong thing. He is about my age which makes it a bit more awkward. Of course I am totally able to laugh it off, but it is pretty uncanny how he can find just the wrong thing to say. For instance when he pulled out my wisdom tooth (I was awake for the procedure) he held it up to my face and shouted, "It's a boy!" It was kinda funny, but not in the way he intended I suppose. Then, at my most recent visit he noticed my dyed hair and asked," Oh, is that left over from Halloween?" It was the middle of November.

When he asked me that I could feel Kylie tense, as she knew that it was my chosen hair color. I'd actually had the hair dyed for the last visit. I wasn't offended. I mean come on, why should I be? I have bright orange hair right now. I did let a moment pass before answering, not to make him sweat, but to give him a moment to think. Then I responded with, "I just want my hair this color." I could feel Kylie's tension ease as she read my tone as totally non-aggressive. Honestly I appreciated his direct inquiry. It was refreshing, he was just being his authentic self.

Really that is exactly what I am doing as well...which I know sounds a bit off when I am actively changing my appearance via hair dye, but I currently feel like a redhead so that is a true and accurate version of myself.

But the point of this post isn't really to talk about boring hair color, it's about more than that I hope. Lately I have been thinking a lot about authenticity and how it manifests in my life. Am I being my authentic self and what exactly does that mean? Can one be authentic all of the time? I don't think so.

Eric and I have recently had several conversations about how we can be the most authentic version of ourselves. I can't tell you what that means to him as it isn't my place to share his story, but I can tell you what that means for me. I think being authentic is to follow through with being who you are even when it is difficult or uncomfortable. Appearance is one thing, but I feel that the heart of the matter lies more in daily actions and living with intent. It's so very easy to become a bit numb when locked into the busy daily grind---to let go of dreams, to let things slide, to not be fully present or engaged.

How can you be authentic if you don't live with intent? You can't. So lately I have been trying to live with more intention, it is a gradual process and it is spreading throughout my life---from getting a new tattoo to changing how I respond when I am thanked, I try to say "You are welcome" instead of "Oh, it's no problem"---because sometimes it was a problem. I suppose the point is that I am trying to give a little more thought to who I am, who I want to be, and how I should act that out. Sometimes it makes people ask questions about Halloween hair, but most of the time the whole process is happening below the surface as I try and figure out just what I want to do with this one life I have been given. I certainly don't want to waste it by being inauthentic.
Thoughts?

2 comments:

Sarah Purdy said...

I firmly believe the older I get, the more myself I become. Very thoughtful post!

Emily said...

I agree with you and Sarah both! The older I get, the more "me" I feel. I think you are very authentic and genuine!

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