A “Symphony of Your Life” blog with Mark Hardcastle
Wandering on a recent layover as I do, this time in Raleigh, I happened upon an image of North Carolina’s Great Seal which includes the state’s motto: Esse Quam Videri – “To be rather than to seem.”
Stopped me in my tracks.
Am I the only one to have noticed the general obsession with “authenticity” in recent days? It seems that everywhere I look I see people trying to be “authentic”.
There’s a common angst around even the possibility of being seen as inauthentic. We’re interested in living authentically and having what we do be a true reflection of who and what we are. But hasn’t that always been the case? I mean… who doesn’t feel like that?
So why all this sudden interest? And why all this angst? And what should we do about it, if anything?
In a 1989 correspondence with William Safire of the New York Post, Woody Allen took credit for saying, “80% of success in life is showing up.” In other words, whatever your chosen field, do your work.
The quote had originated even earlier while Allen was working on “Annie Hall,” the Oscar-winning movie that came out in 1977. So it’s old enough to be a cliche’. Which means today I’m not going to ask you whether you show up. I’m going to ask you how.
How do you show up? Or maybe more clearly, who are you when you show up? Do you show up as… You?
I can see your shoulders rising. The tension building in the back of your neck. Your overall stress level getting higher. Because it’s really not that simple. So let’s see if we can get you some stress relief.
Let’s start with the obvious. Is it even possible to show up as something other than ourselves? Of course it is. There is that person who is actively trying to be deceptive, dragging his/her show wagon of snake oil from town to town.
But we aren’t that person. Which means we certainly don’t want to be perceived as that person. So why are we sometimes afraid that others might see us that way?
One reason is called Imposter Syndrome: the fear that somebody significant is gonna find out that we are intellectual frauds. Which implies that we think on some level that we actually are. That we don’t belong where we are, doing what we’re doing. And we’re gonna be kicked out.
At the US Military Academy at West Point they have an expression for what happens to a cadet when he is separated from the Academy involuntarily (for academic failure, unsatisfactory military bearing, honor violation, etc.). The cadets refer to that separation as “being found.” I’m speculating here, but I imagine the phrase may have originated early in West Point’s history when somebody realized that one of his peers no longer belonged there. His weaknesses had become apparent. His reality was discovered – found out. Or simply “found.”
Is that what we’re all worried about? Getting “found?”
In Part 2 we’ll think together about why so many of us, over 50% of the population according to Psychology Today magazine, have that fear.
Thanks for reading!
The Symphony of Your Life