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Living in Authenticity

Updated on April 24, 2010
The author, being goofy with her daughter, donning chocolate face in authenticity.
The author, being goofy with her daughter, donning chocolate face in authenticity.

Spending time on the planet is limited, unless you are a believer in reincarnation, and I am. I feel we have been around and will come around again. Yet, it is incumbent on us to live the life we currently have in an authentic manner. What does this mean? It means taking the "Road Less Traveled" if we find it is the right path for us, and choosing a life that brings us joy.

Youth can be a time of compliance or rebellion. If we comply, we walk the very narrow road insuring we make those we love happy. While this is admirable, it means we may not choose to do those things that we feel called to do. We may simply spend our lives trying to please those we love. If we rebel, we may still be living un-authentically, as we may be doing so to make a statement.How many times have do you hear that people succumb to peer pressure, or have married as a way to leave home? While many do not marry to leave home as they did in previous times, there are those trying to escape one scenario by whatever means afforded them.

So, does it take us until we reach middle age or beyond to live authentically or to find our own voice? It does appear that we become more insightful and somewhat wiser the older we get, although there are many still immature people in their mid sixties and beyond! Experience seems to teach us that we need to take the time to assess our goals and expectations for our lives, and to reach beyond the perhaps more "safe" limitations we have been remanding ourselves to live. I am not talking about becoming more reckless, instead I speak of becoming more aligned with our purpose.

Can our purpose change over time? Perhaps. Or just maybe our purpose has always been the same, but we have ignored it. Or maybe, just maybe we have been working towards it all along, but have not recognized it! There is something about finding our passion that elevates us and gives us inspiration and courage. Recently, on the Oprah show Melissa Etheridge described her experience with surviving breast cancer and being in her forties as a huge growth experience. Oprah told her that the feeling she had would probably continue into her fifties and beyond as these are the times that many of us find we live more authentically. We turn from the conventions of what is expected by societal limitations and become more of who we truly are supposed to be.

When I was in my mid-forties I returned to college to get a Masters Degree. Not a fantastic student in my undergraduate years, I had to be conditionally accepted into the program. (I was too busy as an undergrad being Big Woman on Campus in every club) Upon being given the opportunity to excel, I soared and was able to keep my GPA well over 3.9. After completion of my program I was honored to begin living the life I always wanted to live, that of a college instructor. I had given up the dream of teaching in the late 1970's and it was not until 1999 that I was able to begin the journey that would lead me to my passion.

Our relationship with ourselves is not a selfish pursuit. It is vital that we all love ourselves in order to love another we have been told so many times. The poet TS Eliot said:

We shall not cease from exploration
And the end of all our exploring
Will be to arrive where we started
And know the place for the first time.

Eliot reminds us that  our lives are one of constant inquiry, getting to know and even like ourselves at every stage. It would be easy to spend our lives constantly working to please others, but at what cost? Is it fair to ask anyone to live their lives by the dictates of another's expectations? So why then would we not wish to choose our own authentic lives and begin to experience the joy that being who we truly are brings to each of us?

Modern Day philosopher Andrew Cohen writes:

"The authentic self is the best part of a human being. It's the part of you that already cares, that is already passionate about evolution. When your authentic self miraculously awakens and becomes stronger than your ego, then you will truly begin to make a difference in this world. You will literally enter into a partnership with the creative principle."

It is your evolution here of which I speak. To evolve and be-come what you were born to be is the manifestation of living authentically. To open your eyes each morning and to truly FEEL that you are living a life of truth, of honesty and purpose You may not be happy each day, you may not feel empowered at times, but you are only human my friend.

"The truth is that our finest moments are most likely to occur when we are feeling deeply uncomfortable, unhappy, or unfulfilled. For it is only in such moments, propelled by our discomfort, that we are likely to step out of our ruts and start searching for different ways or truer answers." M. Scott Peck.

To stretch above the limitations imposed by our past, our conditioning and our experience and to capture the essence of authenticity, we remain aligned with our soul's purpose.Many times if we ignore the calling, then the calling is forced upon us in some way. A tragic illness, a divorce, a loss of fortune or a crisis in faith. We are then forced to examine the lives we lead, and to make a change that will propel us, as Dr. Peck states, forward or inward to discover the hidden gems we hold inside that reveal our truth.

So ask yourself: Am I on purpose? Am I doing what I love, or what others want me to do? Can I make a change that will empower me, and in turn bring me to who I was meant to be? Do I look outside myself or deep within to find the place I feel most drawn to?

If, as Sarah Ban Breathnach says:"The Authentic self is the soul made visible", then how visible is your soul? Can you say you live in your true power everyday, deeply committed to revealing the true "you" and not the "you" that others wish to see? And if you do not, have you asked yourself why? Or have you ever thought about this at all? Life has a way of bringing you into a situation whereby you will be forced to examine this idea at least once or twice over the course of your life, whether you want to or not. 

Take a few moments to be grateful for the times you are asked to examine the path you are currently on, and ask yourself with deep reflective honesty whether or not you are living the life you currently have with authenticity and truth. And upon reflection remember that it is only you that can decide what that truth is for yourself. Be kind with yourself. We tend to be hardest on ourselves for some foolish reason. This examination is not one you can fail, for if you are not living it as authentically as possible, you still are aware of the fact and can, at some future time change the way you are living. The only thing keeping you from living the life of your dreams is your fear you will fail. But how can you fail yourself if you live your truth? There is no failure, only lessons learned, and growth. And what could be more beautiful than that?


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    • profile image

      Michelle Callis 

      8 years ago

      Beautifully expressed! I believe "spending time on the planet is limited" though my beliefs are different from yours. Some of the details you share about the concept of authenticity are true in any language. People do need to get to the root of who they are and what gifts and talents they have been uniquely blessed with and be that person! Thanks for approaching this topic!

    • profile image


      8 years ago

      You touched the core of it Aley.

      Your core shines through.

    • Aley Martin profile imageAUTHOR

      Alice Lee Martin 

      8 years ago from Sumner, Washington,USA


    • Denise Handlon profile image

      Denise Handlon 

      8 years ago from North Carolina

      wonderfully said, A.M. I applaud this hub! :) Thanks.

    • Aley Martin profile imageAUTHOR

      Alice Lee Martin 

      8 years ago from Sumner, Washington,USA

      Thanks dear.

    • profile image


      8 years ago

      Excellent and inspiring piece, Mom. I love that M. Scott Peck quote too (about 'the truth is, our finest moments....'); my coworker and I used that particular quote when we used to run our women's trauma/recovery group. It's wonderful and much truth in its meaning.

    • Lee B profile image

      Lee Barton 

      8 years ago from New Mexico

      Inspiring! Is this hub my new favorite? I love them all!

    • Deborah Demander profile image

      Deborah Demander 

      8 years ago from First Wyoming, then THE WORLD

      I love your writing. We all have an obligation to honor the divine spark, to fulfill our destiny. It is this process which defines and gives meaning to life. Sadly, many do not give the spirit a chance to soar.


    • Aley Martin profile imageAUTHOR

      Alice Lee Martin 

      8 years ago from Sumner, Washington,USA

      Thank you all...! Glad you could resonate with this.

    • lorlie6 profile image

      Laurel Rogers 

      8 years ago from Bishop, Ca

      This is a truly stunning hub, Aley, and I am proud to read it! I haven't seen the word "Authenticity" since I was in college philosophy courses, perusing Kierkegaard. "The Authentic self is the soul made visible" will not be forgotten!

      Thank you so for putting this together in an extremely personal way.

    • thevoice profile image


      8 years ago from carthage ill

      terrific great amazing life story god speed thanks

    • Aley Martin profile imageAUTHOR

      Alice Lee Martin 

      8 years ago from Sumner, Washington,USA

      Thanks Lisi...

      we do have to take the time to look inwardly, and many of us have some resistance to this, as we are worried over what we might find!

      I appreciate your comments!

    • Lisi Hansen profile image

      Lisi Hansen 

      8 years ago


      We need to be aware of our feelings all the time and learn to love ourselves, and others. Being grateful for where we are standing at this moment and being a caring person towards others has been the key for me. I love Andrew Cohen quote. Thank you for this amazing hub! Thumbs up!


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