The Trouble with Authenticity

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How often do you hear the complaint that so-and-so is just so fake?


Maybe it’s a friend, boss, family member or politician, but I see people mad about “putting on a front” or being “two-faced” all the time. Maybe it’s a sign of our cynical culture… or maybe it’s a way to displace our frustrations on others.


We are fascinated by reality television because it parades other people’s raw life through our living rooms and gives us an opportunity to feel a little better about ourselves. (Admission, I have watched the Bachelor purely for the joy of mocking their romance, Jon & Kate plus 8 was a blessing to me when I was struggling with the life change involved in two babies born 18 months apart.)


You know I’ve worked really hard at being authentic in my writing. I admit my faults and embarrassments to you as a way to make you smile and realize there really isn’t a normal out there.


I firmly believe the bar of perfection is set high based on the highlights reels of other people, and recognition that trying to make better choices every day is the key, rather than beating yourself up for accidentally giving your kid soured milk in their bottle or getting in that same fight with your spouse you’ve been having for six years. Quite simply, the journey is more important than the destination!


I’ve made a distinct choice to share my life with you. I know most of you are strangers. I’m still choosing to be open. (Honestly, one reason I can do this is that I don’t struggle with massive insecurity. Despite my postings about my lard baby, my crazy kids and goofy husband… well, I have a healthy dose of self-confidence. I trust my instincts and honestly believe my 75%-effort is quite as good as many other’s 100%. Arrogant, I know. But… I’m telling the truth.)


If you’re still reading after that last arrogant comment, thank you. I want to share some downsides to being authentic:


  • People think they know you and extrapolate all sorts of things about you. (usually negative)
  • Others make judgements about your parenting skills based on the mishaps you mention — that also happen regularly in other households across the country.
  • Sometimes, against all logic, people apply your personal struggles to your family members because you were nervy enough to share.
  • If you admit to being affected by the “yucky” of life (like postpartum depression), you find people pity you, consider you crazy forever, or make sure you never forget about a deep, deep valley you’ve made it out of alive.


A friend blogged one day about how crazy her kids were being. As a joke she said she’d like to chop them up and bury them in her back yard. It was a joke. Anyone who reads her writing can vouch that there was no malice, it was simply an expression of exasperation. Her husband lost his full-time employment working with children at a church and their foster child was removed.


A man posted a video on Facebook in response to his daughter’s tirade against her family and chores. At the end of the video he shot her laptop with a gun. The police and child protective services had to investigate their home after receiving complaints of abuse.


One mommy blogger wrote that her son received a failing grade on a math test because he traded his calculator for Pokémon cards. The teacher contacted her to tell her she was letting the son retake the test with a calculator because she knew he knew the work. The mom refused, saying trading the calculator was a bonehead move and the test grade was a logical consequence for his decision. A reader complained and child welfare interviewed all her children at school about whether they were abused, introducing many, many new words and concepts into her 1st grader’s mind.


I have no intention of pausing in my pursuit of authenticity. But I do want to acknowledge the trolls in this life can make it really, really hard to be honest.


My request to you: please don’t be a troll! If you’re complaining about people being fake, stop and consider if you have contributed to their decision to put up walls and disengage. Don’t throw rocks at glass houses.


Thanks for listening to my perspective today. It was heavy on my heart… and I’d love to hear any response you have!


*If you like this post, would you please share it with your “tribe” via email, facebook, twitter, pinterest, etc.?*
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