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Authenticity

"I know myself... but that is all." F. Scott Fitzgerald, This Side of Paradise


"Wisdom is the daughter of experience." ― Leonardo da Vinci


I’ve thought a lot about authenticity recently, and the periods of my life in which I’ve felt my most authentic self - as well as the periods in which I’ve felt distant from that sense of intimately knowing who I am and that feeling of interacting with the world as my best self.

I distinctly remember a powerful clarity around 15 and 16 of knowing who I was; an accelerated knowledge that I couldn’t count on any one person, material set of things, or even an experience to define myself. Each of those things can be transitory (the toughest for me was knowing that family can often be, too), and as painful as that was to come to realize when I was young, I can say it’s given me a more empowering sense of self-worth as I’ve gotten older. And through illness or disappointment or heartbreak, I've still nurtured a little ember of my authentic self; I know there will be a time again when it'll spread, grow tall, and roar. Back then, "I know myself, but that is all" was enough for me to launch forth.


At 30, I feel this same calm and confident sense of self and how I’ve curated my life: the people around me (chosen family, found family, friends, and coworkers) leave my face hurting by the end of the week from laughing so much; the hobbies I enjoy (creative and artistic projects; getting up into the mountains; hitting the pavement for a run; reading new novels; being a lifelong student); the moments where I just stop to feel the crisp winter air biting my skin, or look suddenly across the room and catch eyes with my husband, or hit the snooze button to cuddle with my pup for five more minutes. A mixture of comfort and growth; contentment and striving for more; appreciation of the moment in front of me, and wonderment for the things unfolding next. I think, too, about the entire lifetime that has passed between the last time I so intensely felt this way, and it's like observing another person's life through a looking glass. In a more intimate and mature way, now, I know myself and am proud of who I've become.


I have a good feeling I'll feel similarly when I look back on myself in another lifetime.


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