Authenticity is good. It’s a compliment of character, a selling point for goods and services. Whether we’re talking about food or people, it’s certainly sought after, at least the appearance thereof. How’s that for irony? 😉
But in terms of people and ways of being, authenticity is not always wise. It almost doesn’t matter; I mean, everybody claims to crave and seek and prize authenticity, pretending to hold it in the highest regard. They’re lying, most of them. The trouble is, they might be so convincing that they believe their own lie.
When faced with genuine authenticity, most people actually become uneasy. They’re so used to bullshitting each other that they don’t recognize authenticity when it’s staring right at them, nor would they know what to do with it if they did.
Authenticity is risky, dangerous. If we should pass each other on the street and I reveal my authentic self, letting it flap in the wind, the real me is exposed. Should I expose the real me, it’s fair game, open to criticism. Should the other person lob criticism at me, it’s my true self they’re criticizing.
Once I’ve revealed my true self, everything else is just a mask. Letting the mask drop is a one-way movement; if there’s an “undo” button, I haven’t found it yet. And you only know if it was a bad idea to drop the mask after the fact; by then, the damage is done.
So where does that leave things?
True to the stereotypes surrounding Asperger’s/autism, I often fall into the tempting arms of black and white thinking. It’s binary, with only two choices: on or off, yes or no, all or nothing. This mode forces me to make a firm, purposeful decision–in cruder terms, to shit or get off the pot. And in no facet of my life has this been more applicable than trust, because that appears to be the prerequisite for revealing one’s authenticity to another.
What I’ve always known, but chosen to forget, and subsequently remembered, is that there are intermediates between that all-or-nothing road-fork. And I’ve begun to give those in-betweens the time of day. After all, they deserve it. Those intermediates matter; they need love, too.
And here, again, this realization gets a particularly glaring spotlight when it comes to daring to reveal my authentic self.
I know I must proceed with caution, of course. It’s a jungle out there. Dog-eat-dog, eat or be eaten, and all that. In a world of fluffed up grandiosity, where plastic people are incessantly trying to convince each other how cool and successful and desirable they are, letting your true light shine is a dangerous gamble.
But part of me is willing to try, at least some of the time, in the company of some of the people. Not all of me, not all the time, and not with everyone, but hey, at least I’m thinking about dipping my big toe into the pool. I’m taking a few baby steps here and there.
And once I find out the water is warm, I might just take a few more.
Time, that mischievous imp, will tell. 🙂