I equate authenticity with the freedom to be myself e.g. of saying what I really think (not to hurt or wound) instead of keeping silent, of not tending to the endless, tedious exhausting business of having to “fit in”. I used to feel guilty when I had those feelings. I still feel a frisson of envy for those people who can ”tell it like it is.” (I often find that these people who brandish honesty and forthrightness resent the hell out of me when I express my opinion!)
Somewhere along the way I changed from being an extrovert to an introvert.
My mother was an uber extrovert; she charmed in any social situation and could make small talk with a stump. She viewed anyone who eschewed the company of others as eccentric, probably neurotic or at worst seriously disturbed. There were probably more than a few introverts in my family. There was a reason my grandfather used to disappear after spending a few hours en famille.
When I was a university student I could not tolerate solitude. When I was alone, I felt vulnerable and anxious. I had to be among friends or mingling in crowds of people every waking minute. Like a true extrovert, I derived energy from other people. Sadly, a frenetic social calendar is inimical to great academic achievement, at least in my experience.
The process of becoming an introvert began after I was married. I wasn’t “me” anymore, I was just an extension of my husband and not a very interesting one at that. I stopped speaking up because people were not interested in what I had to say (dismissed as dumb blonde right out of the starting gate) or did not understand (e.g. They thought Monty Python was a new cartoon character) They were more interested in my husband, I was just the accessory on his arm. Anyway, how do you compete with a chef? People are endlessly enthralled by the cooking profession or probably food has universal appeal. Ancillary to being married to a chef is the ability to be alone – a lot. They work 16+ hour days and you can forget about holidays or time off. I adapted to being on my own, then on my own with kids. I would have to say the process started then and is complete today. (I was probably a closet introvert all along!)
I am most content curled up on my couch with a book in hand and laptop close by. (Tweet, post, blog, et cetera) I like to travel, hike, stay fit, go to concerts and plays, explore and experience new things as often as I can. I have people who I care about and who care about me and that’s enough. One good thing about getting older is that I care less and less what others think of me. I have too much to do and too many other things on my mind.
I am an unabashed introvert and my mother would still not understand.