Au-then-tic-i-ty (as found in The American Heritage College Dictionary): the quality or condition of being authentic, trustworthy, or genuine – is a rather dry and concise explanation for the liveliest, most dynamic, freshest, most creative, and amazing (and sometimes confusing!) aspect of each human being. However, it’s also very accurate in that when we are at our most authentic and genuine, we are also at our most trustworthy.
Have you ever taken time to think about how authentic you are, how true you are to yourself? Although I’m in no way implying that you’re a fake, how well do any of us really know ourselves? How well do we know our talents, our strengths, our needs or potential? How many of us live our lives as something we’d rather not be or do? The phlebotomist who would rather teach philosophy; the CEO who yearns to preach from the pulpit; the analyst who would rather be a triathlete? There’s absolutely nothing fake, per se, about any of those things, but they’re not totally genuine either.
There are so many reasons we end up doing something for years that is not what we really want to do. Messages drummed into us as young adults to follow in the family tradition and be a doctor, lawyer, candlestick-maker, etc. Emulating somebody we much admire; falling into a career because the opportunity was there; simply choosing to do something because nothing stronger jumps out; the list goes on and on.
How about taking some time to peer inside and see what might ignite the fire in your soul? Ask yourself some tantalizing questions and answer from your gut if you can – be ruthlessly honest, nobody will hear you or laugh at you. What would you rather be doing if you didn’t have to pay the bills? What gets you burning with excitement? What did you love to do as a kid? What do others compliment you about most often? These are just some questions to get the juices flowing.
What so often happens when we answer these question out loud, or perhaps when we have answered them out loud in the past, we’ve heard dampening messages in return: oh that won’t work, you don’t have a degree; you’ll never earn enough doing that; live in Asia, are you nuts? you can’t even get a visa! – you know the score. Here is where soul firemen come into the picture. Firemen, bless every one of them, are great to have around when either your house or your car is on fire. When your soul is on fire? Not so much. Avoid the soul firemen, don’t let them douse your soul’s raging inferno. Get those matches busy – ignite the fires within!