This last couple of weeks has been particularly rough, and now more than I ever I am glad that I have this blog, the inner dialogue that facilitates it and that I have someone like José in my life that will listen to me no matter what (even when he doesn’t really get what I’m rambling on about). I have been exposed to all manner of behaviours this last few weeks, and have even demonstrated some behaviours myself that I am not proud of in the least. I will say this, I can see my own growth because in the face of adversity I did not become indignant or prideful, I was able to examine and identify myself and the situation and it came to me, this ‘out of sync’ thing that I experience so often is perhaps not to do with behaviour, interactions but has more to do with my actual existence.
This prompted me to do some self guided and good old book learning and I learned this: “Existentialism is a centuries old movement of philosophy that talks about living life with authenticity“. The big question here being; what does it mean to be authentic?
Everyone has a breaking point and mine is usually when my core values are disturbed, meaning that my peace is disturbed. All of my life I have had people say to me, “…there are two sides to every story”, “…be kind to everyone, you never know what that person is going through” or the one I loathe the most, “…rise above it, it’s not worth your energy”. Very recently, whilst doing some Black Box Thinking something came to me that I have never considered before, or maybe I have considered but certainly never given a voice to the thought that perhaps the reason I get so confused and feel so out of sync is because I try so voraciously to:
- Put myself in the other persons shoes
- Try to see things from their point of view
- Take a step back
- Look at things objectively
I mean think about it, what do those last four actions all actually MEAN, the very sentences lack authenticity, there is no clarity to them, there is no justification for them yet they underpin everything that we do and we manage our relationships, actions, interactions and even general passings by with other humans… I mean if someone bumps into me in Sainsbury’s and doesn’t apologise I think, oh he might be having a crappy day, just leave it – but what if he’s not and he’s simply a crappy person? There’s a potential injustice there and that does not sit well with me at all… herein the battle commences.
Of course, authenticity is defined by individual perspective. It is very important to understanding that living an authentic life is different, although easily confused, with living a life of meaning. To live a life of meaning is to know your purpose and do so passionately – a good example here is the instagram famous body models, they live a life of great meaning, and cannot achieve what they do without passion but the vanity negates the authenticity because true authenticity is devoid of the need for external validation. This is not to say that those people are bad people (I follow a fair few on instagram and they are VERY good to look at) – they just lack authenticity.
I have been thinking over the last few days that if we are not living authentically, then it is easy to lose meaning and succumb to anxiety, boredom and even despair. Living a life based on these foundations will drive a person to pursue “quick fixes” to avoid the responsibility of living authentically, eg, numbing themselves with alcohol or drugs, living in fantasies, dependency on external validation, vehement reparation or development programmes etc. Jose often tells me to just sit down and ‘be’ because I’m aways on the go – something always needs to be done, reorganised, cleaned blah blah blah.
I’m not educated in the least, my highest qualification is an NVQ in Hairdressing, and I don’t even do that anymore… what I do, is think, a lot. You know maybe I’m learning about all this the right way around, who is to say? Almost three years ago today I decided to end my relationship, effectively giving up my entire life (like, all of it, I walked out with only the clothes from my wardrobe… and not even all of them). My only purpose up until that point had been one of material gain and moving forwards to ‘keep up appearances’ and I had completely lost my identity. It was so damaging and even three years later it’s hard to not compare to friends or colleagues that seem to have more than me and then the injustice of it all comes back to me and the battle commences yet again – If I do the ‘actions’ and explain it away but in doing so I let an injustice slide, am I being inauthentic or authentic?
It’s really funny because we have just spent Christmas in a little cottage on the Scottish Borders and driving back to Bedfordshire yesterday (well, José was driving because apparently I lack the skill, attention to detail and general awareness to operate my own car – according to José) I was feeling really anxious and I think for a good 5 minutes I literally let it all come out, no sentence structure, no filters and before José could even respond I said “I don’t expect you to respond, I just wanted to say all that so that it wasn’t spinning around in my head.” to which he just nodded and carried on driving and I felt better.
I think it was quite possibly the most authentic thing I have ever experienced in my whole life.