Why Authenticity?

Last year, I made a resolution to “keep taking out the trash” which was basically trash talk for getting rid of stuff/people/emotional baggage that did not belong. This made more space for the blessings I possessed and for other good things to come into my life.

Soon, the year had passed and I found myself staring down another new year and looking for another sustainable life change. At 41, I am stubborn in my ways and probably never going to change my spots. However, what was within my control is how the dots connect, to form a coherent picture. 

At the heart of this desire to be authentic is a longing for an external and internal consistency.

There’s a famous quote by the esteemed basketball coach John Wooden, “Be more concerned with your character than your reputation, because your character is what you really are, while your reputation is merely what others think you are.”  Try googling “Character vs. Reputation” and you’ll find page after page about how working on your character is preferable to reputation.

I’ve been told that I appear cold and aloof. I also know that I come across as unforgiving and uncompromising. I do not like asking for help, but this has little to do with not wanting to be vulnerable. Yet, the people closest to me know that the facade stems from very different motivations. I don’t want to be disingenuous, I want to sincere in my compliments. I want to push my children, my students and employees to their best effort with little concern for how it would benefit me. I don’t ask for help because I realise that everyone is fighting their own battles daily and my struggles do not take precedence. Unfortunately, this sometimes gets lost in translation, but I have since learned to move forward from the concern of what people think, because the truth is that you cannot please everyone.

And then I realised that the heart of authenticity is when the external message that you are communicating to the people around you, is consistent with the internal narrative you are writing for yourself each day. For most of us, we need an external perspective to gain some insight on what we are trying to change. Embrace criticism and praise in equal measure, they both bring you closer to the best version of yourself. 

Make your character your reputation.

Arlene Lim