Years ago, I had the fortune to be on a panel about creative lifestyles with Barbara Winter, Barbara Sher and Valerie Young. I told my story of all the weird jobs I had held and how it led me to my work as a coach.
Afterward, Barbara Sher came up to me and told me “You are so authentic!” I took that as a compliment, though I wondered what exactly that meant.
On a job interview, when asked why they should hire me, I said, I’m authentic! Later, I wondered, what does that actually mean?
Sometimes if feels like our authenticity is a far-away place we don’t know how to get to. Despite our ability to share so much online, we often censor ourselves in how we present ourselves online, in our creative work, in our jobs and even in our relationships.
We don’t say what we really mean. We edit ourselves for the environment. We revise our communication so it suits the listener rather than coming from a deep, true place.
A certain amount of this is social conditioning, and it’s a good thing. But when it comes to writing or creating bodies of work, censoring ourselves is death to our creativity.
If you’re like me, when you read something that’s deeply honest or see a performer who is completely ‘in her skin’, you’re moved. You can tell when someone is giving you their fullest, most true expression. It perhaps inspires you to be more fully expressed yourself.
I have been writing and making art for decades now, and I am still on the quest of more and more authenticity. It’s an ongoing process of digging deeper to find not only what, but how I want to share my gifts.
With this goal in mind, I launched a daily challenge for myself: One True Line. Every day I write and share something that is true for me at the time. It’s surprisingly uncomfortable, and yet I know from experience that when I share something that is real and raw, it’s more compelling than the surface or cliche stuff.
I have to keep asking myself ‘what’s true?’ and also keep in check my concern over others’ response. It’s only just begun and I can see that I have many lines to pen to get to my true self.
The way I’m seeking access to this authentic self is free-writing. I’ve been using and teaching this tool since 1996 and it’s stunning how it helps us get past the inner critic, shed social conventions and get to the core of who we are and what we want to say. I write a lot of lines, in a drive toward the core.
In the classes I teach we use this method, and we don’t share our writing. Having this public accountability alongside privacy allows participants to feel free without worrying about how the writing will be received. This freedom opens up a whole new layer of authenticity and connectedness with the self. It’s astonishing how much power writers gain from this process. I use free-writing for everything I write and it’s helping me with my One True Line challenge*.
If that kind of freedom sounds like something you could use in your life, for a book you are writing or for your own personal enlightenment, I invite you to join us in my new online class The Devoted Writer.
During the month of February we will be writing daily together in a free and empowering way. Find out all the details here and join me to bring more authenticity into the world.
I’d love to hear how you seek and find your authenticity. Please share your thoughts in the comment area below.
*Follow my One True Line on Instagram.