Can we be our authentic Selves all the time? This question came up with a friend as we discussed our spiritual journeys & how we try to live our truth in a world where religious intolerance leads to family rifts on a personal level & war on a global level. (Yes, we get into heavy discussions sometimes.) She said she’s at a point in her life where she is comfortable being who she is & will not compromise that for anyone else. I, ashamedly, have to admit that I’m not there yet. I was raised with the belief that you never talk about religion, politics, or money in social situations. If people agree, there’s no point to the discussion & if they disagree, there’s still no point. These conversations rarely lead to a change of heart. They more often lead to arguments, judgement, misunderstanding, & hostility.
Call me a chicken but I play it safe. I sense the climate in the room & make the decision whether or not to voice an opinion. Is that compromising my authentic Self? This can be a real struggle for someone in the minority– be it race, religion, politics, sexual orientation, or social status. Too often the majority squelches the individuality of those in the minority. We give up our authentic Selves so we can belong. But there’s the dilemma. We’re being accepted for who we aren’t.
So when do we take the chance? When do we say, “This is who I truly am?” Sometimes we make that decision & other times, someone forces our hand, making the decision for us. My boyfriend did that to me this weekend at a friend’s cookout. He told some of the guests about my spiritual practice before I felt comfortable doing so. I’m relieved to say they were very accepting & curious. As we talked, they saw the similarities between my beliefs & their own. What began as a tense moment for me, waiting for the hammer of criticism & judgement, became a great opportunity to be my Self & share my spiritual philosophy with them.
Another dear friend uses the term “universalism” to describe the commonalities that many religions & spiritual practices share, such as loving one another, honoring nature, & believing in something greater than ourselves. At the cookout, we celebrated those similarities & connected at a much deeper level than we had before.
So many interesting topics came up during those conversations that I want to share them with you over the next few weeks. In addition to my artwork, I’ll be writing about dream imagery, a need for community, soul loss, ritual, honoring life & death, energy work, & love. I hope that you’ll reflect on the questions below & share your thoughts with me.
1. Who is your authentic Self?
2. Have you been authentic in your interactions with others? Why or why not?