Being Authentic in An Artificial World

 Authentic: Adj; Not False or Copied; Genuine; Real. 

Authentic: Adj; Not False or Copied; Genuine; Real. 

You guys, let me start off by saying that I have felt for quite a long time the need to share my writing publicly. Not just my client blog posts, but my heart. I want to share my heart. 

These posts are meant to show authenticity. Transparency. They are meant to crush the ideas that life-for anyone- is always grand and filled with happiness. Because LIFE. IS. HARD. 

Once upon a time, I was a young girl craving the attention and approval of those around me. I longed to be wanted and I sought that out in any shape and form I could find. I morphed into whoever my friends wanted me to be and with each new group, I was a new person. I look back over my short lived life and can't believe how many different people I tried to be. I mean, I had a redneck phase-no joke, boots and all. I was the "walking Hollister Billboard" as two girls once stated with a hint of disapproval on their breath. I was the scene girl. I was the "popular girl" (or I tried to be). I was the good girl. The church girl. The bad girl. The black sheep. I was the dating girl and the girl who never wanted to get married. I was literally ALL OVER THE SPECTRUM. 

In reality, I was trying to figure out who I really was. I still don't know that I have figured that out. I don't know that one can figure that out. The way we are designed means constant change. The world is in constant motion. And that is so beautiful to me. 

You guys, WE DON'T HAVE TO BE WHO WE WERE. 

We can be the person we long to be. We can be creative. We can be passionate. We can be WHOLE. 

That word right there was what I was searching for the most. To be WHOLE. I didn't know why I felt empty. I didn't know why I tried to fill my heart with anything and everything instead of allowing God to fill my heart with joy. I don't know why I feel scared to be authentic. 

In my words, I will proudly claim the Authenticity badge. Put it on my vest next to the "I can build a tent" badge. But in my daily life, authenticity is something I struggle with. These are some things I struggle to be authentic in: 

1) I struggle to be authentic with myself.

I don't like correction. I don't like disapproval. I don't like failure. So you know what I do? I pretend- or in all actuality, I believe- to be better than I am. Now I don't believe that I am better than you. That is not what I am saying. I simply believe that I am better than what I really am. Obviously, I don't believe it when I force myself to wake up and smell the coffee-mmm coffee sounds good- but I want to believe it. 

The reality is, I have a messed up past. It's messed up by decisions that I made. Me. Not anyone else. I have ghosts in my closet. I am a pretty darn good liar- which is nothing to be proud of. I have lost friends over my flippant personality. 

I need direction. Guidance. Correction. I NEED DISAPPROVAL. If no one needed disapproval then there would be no growth. No change. No looking back and rejoicing at how far one has come. That would be a hopeless world. That is not what I want. 

2) I struggle to be authentic in my career.

I am so blessed to get to "work" every day doing something I am passionate about, you guys. 

I can remember always loving photography. I never knew it was something I could "DO" though. I tried. I pretended to do photoshoots of my friends all the time throughout highschool and college. But here is my problem, I get caught in the trap of comparison. It all goes back to that first point, where I struggle with acceptance. I struggle with feeling valuable enough to produce authentic images. 

If you ever just took a step back and reviewed my photography over the past.... two years... you will see a drastic change at random times as far as the style of the image. Most are great shots, but it's like different people took them. Some are moody and rich in color, others are textured, and then some are just flat out authentic. Straight out of the camera-or with MINIMAL editing- and they are beautiful. But I am so afraid that my version of authentic images are not what is trendy right now. It's not artsy enough. 

I have to remember that my authenticity is enough. I am working desperately to get my images and style to start flowing and be CONSISTENT. Consistency is key you guys. In any aspect of life. Being consistent produces room for growth while being genuine. I don't need to produce the same images as other photographers I look up to because THEY are producing those images. I have been given a gift. An innate ability to see the mundane as beautiful. I have been given the opportunity to take the way that I visualize things and produce it as art. And that is all I need to do. 

3) I struggle to be authentic in relationships

My hearts belief is that we are on this planet for two things. To love and Be Loved. I have it in my living room, I want it tattooed on my arm, I want the world to know the answer to life. That's it. Five simple words. To love and be loved. 

What does that mean? It means that I believe that we are here for relationships. Two kinds specifically. A vertical relationship and a horizontal relationship. I am an investor of relationships and usually to a fault. 

How then could I struggle with being authentic? Well, like I first stated, I morph to the be the person that whomever I may be investing in wants me to be. I am afraid that if I am wholly me, that it won't be enough. BUT IT IS. I know it is. I know that God has given me specific abilities and a personality that may not suite everyone, but it is enough for me. For Him. 

I have a couple of friends. Literally, I can count on one hand the number of actual friends I have. I am not talking about acquaintances or once upon a time friends. In the here and now, I have a handful of friends. I have found that even though I am mostly authentic with them, I am still fearful of what they really think of me. I catch myself from time to time saying and doing things I don't really believe in just to not offend anyone. I don't have to agree with people to not offend them. I have two specific friends that I feel know who I really am. They know my heart. They know my beliefs. We don't believe the same things and that's okay. 

I don't need everyone to believe what I believe. Do I want everyone to know the love and mercy that I have found in Jesus Christ, absolutely. Because just to clear that up, I AM A CHRISTIAN. The reason that I have had any success is due to Him. The reason I can write a blog on authenticity and being WHOLE is because He has torn the veil.-that is another post entirely. 

But none the less, I struggle with being myself and believing that who I have been created to be is enough. 

4) I struggle with being authentic in my marriage.

MARRIAGE IS HARD. 

I almost don't even want to write anything else. This is probably the biggest struggle I have. It seems impossible to be anything but authentic in marriage. You are around someone day in and day out. They see the ugly. They see you throw the phone across the house while a slough of curse words come pouring out of your mouth because you have hit your breaking point and instead of turning to the One who would never disappoint, you turned to your spouse who is a human just like you. They see you fail. They see you succeed. They see that heartbroken moment where you have nothing else to do but fall to your knees, cover your face, and cry out "WHY". There is this idea that marriage = happily ever after. Thanks a lot, Disney. 

The reality is, marriage is hard. Your spouse does see those moments. They see you when your'e faking a smile when someone asks how your'e doing. They see you stop in the middle of a screaming match to order Zaxbys with the biggest grin on your face then go right back to the demon you were being before. (side note: all of these examples are of ME... not my spouse... haha) 

So... the struggle I have with an authentic marriage is how I present it to others. Most people have no idea what goes on behind closed doors. And for the most part, that is okay. But life is not meant to be done alone. You don't have to conceal your hardships out of embarrassment. It is okay to seek guidance. To ask for help. To admit that two imperfect people are failing and they need to learn how to succeed. 

Being in an authentic marriage takes more humbleness than this world likes to give. 

We are a selfish culture. We have been taught that if someone does something we don't like we can leave. But that is a lie that just isn't true. You can't-or rather shouldn't- just up and walk out from the person that you stood in front of God and a congregation of friends and family and promised to love until death do you part. That is not just a contract. It is a covenant. There is a difference.You can check out an article on that here.  You made a covenant that for better or worse you would take this person. Love this person. Cherish this person. 

LOVE IS A CHOICE because MARRIAGE IS HARD. 

Now, for those of you about to attack me for saying divorce is not something that should be the first option... slow your horses. I do believe that there are situations where divorce is appropriate. I don't think that women-or men- should stay in a marriage where there is constant abuse. To me, that is worse than cheating. I do believe that marriage is not designed for divorce. I believe that marriage always has a chance for success. But like I said, marriage is hard and it takes choosing humbleness and selflessness and love over choosing to hold on to the pain and bitterness that so easily comes along with marriage. 

The reason I believe so many marriages fail is because we put our hope in our spouse rather than God. That is so easy to write. I am the WORST at this. I put so much hope into how Kyle is going to react to something or hoping he will follow through with something that I may have asked or hinted for. I build up this picture of how things SHOULD be, but I struggle in finding joy in the way things ARE. 

 

That is the key to authenticity. That is how to be authentic in an artificial world. 

Don't look for the picture of how things SHOULD be. Find JOY in how things ARE. 

 

If you need some references as to how to find joy, these are some of my favorite verses on the topic. 

Oh, and remember that joy is not the same as happiness. Happiness is circumstantial. Joy is despite the circumstances. 

To Love and Be Loved

-Abigail

Abigail Wellinghurst

Abigail Wellinghurst Photography, Spanish Fort , USA