“Authenticity” and the idea of living an “authentic life” have become buzzwords, and like most buzzwords, the fundamental question becomes: what does it mean?
What makes a life “authentic” or “real”? It’s a question that seems to vex professional thinkers and the rest of us a like.
Personally, I always thought of the concept as a combination of doing what you believe is best for you with a rootedness in timeless values. But the first part is what I’ve found the trickiest to define:
- Is “doing what you want” inherently selfish?
- If so, how can you mitigate this?
- What’s the balance between “authenticity” and “obligation”?
- Isn’t it strange that the idea of “authenticity” itself is often packaged and sold as a commodity?
- “Authentic” to whom?
And then I got thinking about how we can sometimes define things by their absence or negation. Let me explain:
As stated in my introduction to guest posts, I’d like to offer my take on what Avtomat Khan of The Hidden Dominion covered in his guest post, “Staying Authentic in Trying Times.” In it is a passage and a diagram I really like:
Consider this: If you place a high value on what others think of you, it will manipulate your personality and conclusions, either to find approval or avoid disapproval.
How can someone claim to be genuine if their values are so easily distorted based on who’s listening? It masks your true self. And in turn, it promotes the idea that we should “hide” who we actually are, in favor of whatever the latest bandwagon is.
That’s a good diagram, right?
So more on negation: Sometimes we get a feeling that things are not right, a sense that how we are living is misaligned with who we are. It’s difficult to articulate this, but you know it when it’s not there. Continue reading “Existence by Absence: A Response to Avtomat Khan’s Guest Post”