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Authenticity honors our humanity since it’s based on the premise that we are each unique and further that there is inestimable value in our uniqueness.

Brene Brown wrote in her book The Gifts of Imperfection: Let Go of Who You Think You’re Supposed to Be and Embrace Who You Are, “Authenticiy is a collection of choices we make every day. It’s about the choice to show up and be real. The choice to be honest. The choice to let our real selves be seen.”

At the same time, it’s important that we’re aware that being authentic isn’t about violating our own boundaries or sense of privacy, or betraying our dignity, which are self-defeating ways of compromising ourselves.

When we’re looking deep within and being honest with ourselves, one variable we can’t ignore is time, which necessitates change, as we can readily see in nature, where things continually grow and evolve. Sometimes there’s apparent destruction, but then life begins again. So it is with our minds. Their natural state is to learn and develop. We can try to stop or ignore this process, as many do, out of fear or discomfort that change will bring pain, but when we welcome change, it can be exhilarating and refreshing. One of the greatest minds of our time, Steven Hawking said, “Intelligence is the ability to adapt to change.”

Further, we disregard change when we restrict ourselves to responding to outside stimuli in consistent correct ways. This places a burden on us to maintain some stagnant concept of rectitude or perfection that’s impossible to achieve. Besides, we are complex beings.

That said, you may be delighted to learn that in the words of George Bernard Shaw, “Life isn’t about finding ourselves. Life is about creating ourselves.” While this may sound like a paradox at first, when we become more self-aware, we want to express our best selves, which reflects a process of discovery that lasts (at least) a lifetime. Doesn’t this sound like a lot more fun than struggling to adhere to outdated standards that have little or no relevance in our lives?

In truth, since authenticity is based on our uniqueness along with our complexity and the intrinsic change of fleeting time, it requires thinking out of the box. And it absolutely demands a mind open to new perspectives and ideas, both our own and others’. It’s all about creating new concepts, breaking new ground, and exploring new realities.

Real creativity is self-expression at its best. One of my favorite quotes is by Picasso who said, “All children are artists. The problem is to remain an artist once we grow up.” Before I changed careers and went into communications, I was an art teacher. Teaching young children self-expression was a real pleasure, since they were usually confident and uninhibited in creating their art, with little or no thought about established standards of accuracy or correctness. As they grew older they seemed to lose much of that self-assurance and became painfully conscious of the opinions of others.

Years later, I see this pattern repeat itself as children grow into adults. We often tend to suppress our creative instincts, likely because we don’t want to be seen as foolish, or weird, or different from others when often our difference is actually the source of our unique creative strength—our genius, if you will.

When we open our minds to our own creativity, magic can happen, especially if we allow ourselves a little or even better a lot of enjoyment in our exploration. Creativity is permitting our imaginations to play. Albert Einstein said, “Imagination is more important than knowledge.” So set your creative mind free and have the time of your life!

Mary Kathryn “M.K.” Jones