Where Are You on the Authenticity Curve?

3 min read

One of the exercises that can help people think about what authenticity means for them is called unraveling your blueprint. It is quite simple, just ask the following two questions.

  1. What are your first memories as a child when you remember yourself feeling joy? What were you doing? Take ten minutes and write in your journal, without stopping to think too much, about a time when as a child you remember doing something that felt joyful. The chances are you were using one of your natural strengths, talents, or abilities to its full extent. There would have been sheer pleasure in the doing.
  2. Now think about another time when you were miserable. Take ten minutes and write in your journal, without stopping to think too much, about a time when as a child you remember doing something that felt miserable. The chances are that you were doing something at someone else’s request that required you to use strengths, abilities, or talents that you did not possess as much as when you were doing something joyful.

Left to our own devices, like children, we will do the things that come naturally to us. We will use our strengths, interests, and abilities. Through their use, we will nurture them and develop them further. It is in this way that we grow into becoming ourselves.

Looking back on our lives in this way can give us insight into what our natural strengths, interests, and abilities are. When we are young, in those early years before we become conditioned to please others and meet expectations we are at our most authentic.

You might want to try this exercise. Think about what thoughts, memories, and emotions that it brings up for you.

But what I also want to share is how people often revisit their blueprint later in life.

When we are young, before we learn how to behave to please others, we are at our most authentic. But then, later in life, as we grow older, people often find themselves with renewed freedom. We no longer care so much about what other people think, about meeting the expectations of others and doing things just to please others. Again, we find ourselves, there is something childlike in older age, and it is the authenticity in ourselves we are more able to find.

Of course, this is not true for everyone, for various reasons such as financial constraints. But as a general rule, there is truth to what I’m saying. We are high on authenticity when we are young, then as we reach adulthood we dip down with the weight of all the expectations on us until we emerge again in later life, freed yet again to be ourselves. This is what I call the authenticity curve.

But how steep that climb back up varies from person to person. For some people, it is a gradual increase in authenticity as they get older, slowly regaining their confidence to be themselves, and finding new interests and pursuits as they age. For others, it may be more sudden, waking up one morning and thinking to themselves, “I’ve had enough of putting on an act for everyone, from today I will be truer to myself.”

The exercise to think about yourself as a child might spark a new desire for change. Authenticity in our lives is too important to ignore, think about where you are on the authenticity curve, and don’t leave it too late.

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