Authenticity…is of the devil?!
I’m really too lazy to link to all the articles I’ve ever written regarding authenticity, but if you’ve been keeping track of this blog, you should know that it’s an issue I care a lot about. A lot of my struggles in the past have been trying to reconcile this sense of having to lie about everything I believe in or care about just to “fit in” with whomever I’m around. But this feels stifling, suffocating to me…as if I’m snuffing out who I am for the sake of “getting along with others.”
And so my disaffection from the church, in large part, has been from the realization that many other people in church probably don’t feel that way…because they actually do believe in God and Mormonism and the church. So, given that everyone’s not in the same boat, why would I keep faking it at cost to myself?
And so I disaffected to be authentic to myself.
As you may know, I’ve been undergoing some conversations with my father, via Facebook, then email, and most recently through phone. They are pretty charged conversations, but in them, I have to realize that there are several aspects about my personality that I need to change.
In another discussion, commenter dustydistaff pointed out that perhaps the reason I found it difficult to change was because I personally am not motivated to change myself for myself…rather, I want to change because I want to avoid bad stuff happening…I want to avoid reactions from others.
And…I absolutely think that’s true. In a way, I want to change because my personality doesn’t work with others. But the blockage I’m getting is that I know that when I make this change, I will go back to hating myself. And so I’m already in mourning.
The central idea is that strong opinions expressed strongly are dangerous. Many people don’t want to hear any opinions but their own, and they do not react well to those of others. So, for the others who express strong opinions, there is always danger that someone will hear and will not like what they heard, and as a result they will react…and their reaction will be to try to neutralize the threat. While you can hope that you can defend yourself against whatever reactions may come, this is a losing battle…because you’re always hoping that your strength will beat their strength. The problem is that there will always be someone stronger than you are. Someone with more power, influence, or friends than you have. And you will not be able to recover.
My dad thinks that I got this way from going to university and learning philosophy and logic. That I started getting good grades and accomplishing some things at school and then thought I was invincible. That then, I rejected God.
…it’s impossible for me to try to say otherwise, because he just responds that I’m doing exactly what’s wrong: I’m asserting my opinion, as if I know everything and there’s no chance I could be wrong. I will not be humble; I will not be teachable.
I guess I just feel that to let my story be crushed and unheard is my death. If no one will fight for me, not even me…then how do “I” exist?
That’s the idea of authenticity…you have to be your best advocate, because no one else will. Even if this puts you at odds with society and friends, you have to be the one person on your side.
…the problem is this: I’ve always understood from a theoretical basis how authenticity can put you at odds with society…but I never put it in terms of practical effects in my own life. I have to admit that I am facing the detrimental effects.
There was a vital miscalculation I made with authenticity. I assumed that a person could exist independently…but that’s simply not true. We are always connected in a social net, so we can’t afford not to get along with others, because we will always in some way rely upon those others.
My father said something on the phone that I didn’t agree with, but it was so stark that I had to remember it. He said that he and my mother tried to raise me in the church, to see good tenets, good principles, God. But I rejected God, so what was I left with? If I rejected God, and rejected the church…I am left with the other end of that duality. And now, I can see from the fruits of my life where exactly I am. Reactive. Argumentative. evil.
Can it be that authenticity is of the devil? That authenticity is selfishness? Arrogance? Hubris? Reactivity?
…I am painted with a bleak picture, at a bleaker crossroads.
I can continue the path of authenticity and like myself, but dislike the volatile social situations I get into (and risk pissing someone off in a way from which I cannot recover)…or I can start being an actor again…I can start withholding my voice and opinions, to “fit in” or to “get along.” And I will hate every moment of it, but at least I’ll be “safe.”
It depresses me…but then again, it’s a depressing subject. I realize that I’ve covered this exact topic before: the pessimism of religion. What I have believed is that I can change things…that I can convince people through argumentation. I called it an optimistic perspective.
But I am confronted with the idea that this simply doesn’t work. That instead, people will get upset and will try to hurt me. That instead, I can’t try to argue and convince people. That I have to not put truth in people to do the right thing, or to be able to be convinced to do the right thing. The pessimist perspective.
…It feels to me such a profoundly lonely path. That’s where another thing my dad said intrigued me (paraphrased since it was via call):
I trust in God because he never has loose lips. He will never try to use my words against me, get upset with what I was saying and then try to destroy me. So, I am discreet with everyone I am around, private, humble, quiet, but I rely in God.
It must be nice to have such a companion. But I can’t help but feel that there is a different reason why God never uses his words against him…