Chicago, Illinois

What Authenticity is to Me?

Authenticity is defined as the state of being authentic, but authentic can be defined in various ways. defines it as “Not false or copied; genuine; real;” “Having an origin supported by unquestionable evidence; authenticated; verified;” “Representing one’s true nature or beliefs; true to oneself or to the person identified;” and “Entitled to acceptance or belief because of agreement with known facts or experience; reliable; trustworthy.” Meanwhile, Merriam-Webster has varying definitions of its own. Some include “Worthy of acceptance or belief as conforming to or based on fact,” “Conforming to an original so as to reproduce essential features,” “Made or done the same way as an original,” “Not false or imitation,” and “True to one’s own personality, spirit, or character.” 

Most of these definitions affirm what authenticity is to me because, in my opinion, being authentic is to be a person that is true to his or her own personality, spirit, or character; original, not false, real or not copied, and something worthy of acceptance based on unquestionable evidence or known facts. My former two definitions might come into question as both may have no organic roots, except the former two can prove that ownership (what happens to be one’s own) and originality can be legitimized as they are not just about a person imitating something or someone else. There were inventors and discovers (people who might practice ownership and originality at their purest) who created or established various practices and theories, and all have their own subscribers or devotees.

If a subscriber or devotee takes what he or she has learned from the practice or theory, he or she can apply it to their already-forming mentality and then become more of his or her own person. For example, Jon Kabat-Zinn, Joseph Goldstein, Tara Brach, and Jack Kornfield are original teachers and true to their own personalities, spirits, and characters as meditation teachers because they applied the Buddha’s organically created philosophies into their own mentalities, became their own teachers, and then taught students based on how teachings were incorporated into their personalities.

It is extremely difficult for a person to be exactly like someone else because almost all people experience different events and interpret them differently. The events shape them to be who they are physically and mentally, and what they try to become afterward is based on how they interpret those new experiences and how they interpret is based on past experiences.

If one is trying to be exactly like someone else, it will likely not work because he or she has experiences that are not exactly the other person as both are shaped differently due to their own experiences. In fact, a person acting like someone else will be viewed as false or fake and thus could lose devotion from people who follow him or her. Super Bowl-winning champion head coach Bill Belichick had assistants who went off to become head coaches of other teams and most of them tried to be exactly like him with their new teams. None of them could ever be like him because they never had the military influence that his Navy head coach father, Steve Belichick, taught him. They also never emulated Bill’s hero Paul Brown, like Bill, asked players or ex-players how certain schemes worked, or learned from other head coaches who Bill worked for such as Bill Parcells. Consequently, the former Belichick assistants lost support from their players, damaged their relationships inside the organizations, and ruined their chances of becoming head coaches again.

Aforementioned examples are why people being their real selves is a priority because they have to accept, be honest, and find comfort with their own strengths and weaknesses while acting according to purpose, trying to learn new concepts, being better at their learned skills, or mentoring people who are seeking help. Most importantly, their words must match their actions or evidence that happen to be apparent or available to other people.

People find those whose words match their actions or evidence to credible, reliable, and trustworthy. When such three characteristics keep leaders and followers successfully bound together, relationships will strengthen. Most importantly, people will know where to go to seek salvation, self-improvement, or knowledge. None of this can happen if anyone or anything is tainted with disingenuousness, especially when what is true brings clarity and new light gives everyone direction to do the best they can with their lives.