I consider myself an expert on authenticity because I’ve been living it for quite a good while now. I’ve been in enough stifling and unfulfilling places to know that what I carry around now is the rawest version of myself. I simply adjust the nozzle because not everyone can handle being hosed with me at 100%. Sometimes I have to take a timeout and huddle with myself like whew, sis… was that necessary? The answer is almost always yes.

Pat’s Perfected Principles of Authenticity in Practice:

I own all parts of myself.

Dark and light. Being honest about myself, flaws and all is not an expressed desire to change those things for you. I’m just allowing you to make a choice on how you wish to engage me. Or not.

Honesty is the best policy.

If you ask for my opinion looking for anything other than my honesty, I will be unable to help you. I’ve seen one too many people unravel trying to keep up with half-truths and holding back true feelings. On the flipside, even the most offensively honest folks just always appear to be chilling. Ideally, I stay somewhere in the middle of those extremes

I show up, who I am

I wear my hair how I want. At all times. So, last summer I went to Caribana in Toronto and my hair was blue for the festivities. I came back with my hair still blue I was in meetings, at networking events, and being overall productive with BLUE hair. Imagine that?

I will never pretend to know something I don’t know.

I’m very secure in what I know to be my brilliance. When I don’t know something, I will be asking. My asking is sometimes confused with my knack for sarcasm, but even if I’m probing to present an alternative, I still want to be 100% sure I know what you’re talking about and what I’m talking about before I jump out and add my two cents. That said, my code for authenticity includes not being caught pretending in any circumstance.

I’m clear about my non-negotiables.

I’ll admit. I haven’t always kept the boundary line as clear as needed in the past. But that’s done nothing but complicate my life. Now, after I announce what I consider a deal breaker, any attempt to tamper with that line is noted and adjusted to accordingly. There are some humans who insist on testing limits. I remove that from my life.

I snapped. That’s how I got here

I’m not exactly sure what event it was that made me snap, but it was somewhere between untreated depression while trying to make something of myself in graduate school and working full time, and trying to hold my external life together while simultaneously failing to hold my mental health together. I just know that I snapped somewhere in the inaugural months of 2016.

Prior to this, I tiptoed around people’s feelings as much as I could. I allowed people to make me second guess myself. From hyper humility to general insecurity, I often shrunk myself for the sake of the others in the room once I felt like I was possibly doing too much. I wanted to be picture perfectly unthreatening and “professional” but honestly, I’m a chunky black woman who wears 22 inch weaves, long nails, hoop earrings, and high waisted pants religiously. I was never going to be unthreatening a day in my adult life.

The change started happening with my hair changes. One new hairstyle and color at a time, I gained the confidence to unapologetically take up space the way I preferred to. Trying to blend in was no longer on my to-do list as I walked into class with purple hair and.. guess what? Not even a little less intelligent. Authenticity was paying off.


You Can Do Authenticity Too

Start Saying Yes to yourself. If you have to ask yourself if you should do something on behalf of you, the answer should be yes. Anything that prioritizes a healthy choice for self-preservation should be an automatic yes.

Expand your vocabulary. To say what’s really on your mind without offending outright can take a strong investment in wordsmithing. Take it from someone as naturally sharp-tongued as myself.

Make sure your actions match your vocabulary. (Aka, be about it) Who should care if you’ve verbally drawn boundaries if we don’t see you act accordingly?

Who should care if you’ve verbally drawn boundaries if we don’t see you act accordingly?

If you have to grimace through it, remove it. The number of excuses you come up with to maintain that friendship, that unrewarding project, trying to appease ungrateful people, are just a drain of your energy.

Prioritize what adds value to your life. Consistently reevaluate who and what you’re attached to. Re-distribute your time and energies accordingly. Spending most of your time on what you are least motivated by is no way to be true to yourself.

Read Part 2: Authenticity is Self-Care: A Follow Up

Sound off below: Do you feel like you’re living authentically? What are some manifestations of how you live your most authentic life?

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