February is Black History Month and the month of “love” (aka Valentine’s Day). With that said, this month’s email isn’t about either. Instead, I decided to focus on authenticity as the ultimate act of resistance. Authenticity is our birthright and our power.
Merriam-Webster defines authenticity:
true to one’s own personality, spirit, or character
worthy of acceptance
It means living your values and freely discussing your mindset, joys, frustrations, motivations, influences, and competencies with others without fear, shame, or embarrassment. Authenticity is necessary, not only for agency but also for healing. Sometimes, those with power try to keep us from being agents of thought, joy, peace, love, justice, and abundance.
We’re often told to “bring our authentic self to work,” but when we do, we’re ridiculed. We’re called “weird,” “odd,” “aggressive,” or “anti-social.” These microaggressive comments keep us in a state of powerlessness. As writer Clarissa Pinkola Estés wrote, “To be ourselves causes us to be exiled by many others, and yet to comply with what others want causes us to be exiled from ourselves.” We must object, resist, and rebel against the status quo and live as authentically as possible. Several barriers keep us from being authentic: 1. People pleasing 2. Lack of self-esteem 3. Comparison 4. Lack of role models 5. Fear of rejection and consequences Last week, I went to San Diego for a client presentation. When I gave the “about me” spiel, I explicitly said, “I refuse to codeswitch, but I’m confident that you all will understand my vernacular and may even pick up on my Southern sensibilities.” I could have succumbed to fear of rejection and consequences and tried to please the audience, but I resisted. The price, for me, was too high. Guess what? The audience was perfectly fine. As a matter of fact, the corporate partner sent a nice email: "Thank you very much for an impactful session yesterday, Kimberly. The office had a nice buzz for the rest of the day, and I can tell that people were excited to continue reflecting/discussing for the remainder of the day." Authenticity is one of my core values; it is married to integrity. The audience cares less about a fake filter and more about character, competence, and contribution. Which barrier is preventing you from living authentically?
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