Authenticity.

The only way to truly connect with people is to be authentic. To be authentic requires vulnerability; to be who you really are.

I saw this plainly a few months ago…

A friend of mine who is in the entertainment industry threw a party. She’s an actress and the room was filled with lots of her actor and actress friends. It was everything you’d expect from a Hollywood shindig. Beautiful people, glamorous outfits, make-up, the most professional looking selfies I’ve ever seen and phrases being tossed around like “omg we HAVE TO do lunch”.

I sat with a friend observing and discussing how fake it all felt. Yet, I could not help but seeing how familiar it was. All of these Hollywood hopefuls were at work, networking with the hopes that one conversation could lead to their big break. And that’s when I realized that my own work environment was not all too different.

On a day-to-day basis, actors put themselves in front of casting directors ready to be judged based on what they physically portray. More times than not, they are rejected and the reasons are many: too thick, too thin, too short, too tan, too pale, etc. If you define yourself based on how you look, this rejection can breed some serious identity issues.

In my 9 to 5 desk job, people are judged on another set of defining qualities, their intellect and ideas. To succeed, you must have a voice at the table and attempt to push your agenda through. But you have to be prepared to have those ideas shot down or die in a web of corporate politics. If you define yourself based on your ideas or intellect, be prepared to struggle when the group doesn’t like your idea.

The fear of having your identity rejected builds walls. When walls are up, real connect cannot exist. The 9 to 5 version of these are empty conversations about the weather by the water cooler and jargon filled meetings about TPS reports. And I’m sure any other industry has their version.

So this is a reminder as much to myself as it is to anybody else. If you crave a real connection, be real. To be real, have the courage to be honest. And to be honest with anyone else, you must first start by being honest with yourself.

“Know Thyself” – Socrates

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Finding My Voice

I’m sick of the voices inside of my head. No I’m not a psychopath, let me clarify.

Attention is the most sought after commodity we all have. And more than any other time, demand for that commodity has outpaced supply. The average day of the mid-twenty year old American will consist of a barrage of push notifications, emails, YouTube ads, pop-up ads, phone calls, text messages, snapchats, instagram comments, netflix episodes and facebook friend requests.

The warm glow of the computer, TV or smart phone screen draws our attention like a mosquito trap ready to zap away any original thought we have and fill the void with the latest product to buy or the 10 Reasons You Need to Read This list you absolutely need to click on.

My poison of choice have been books and podcasts. There is a glimmer of being able to identify with an authors point of view and see a new perspective on how we should all be playing this game called life. It’s nice to feel like there are others out there trying to figure it all out too.

However, after consuming my fair share of advice from self-help guru’s, I’ve realized that the same general message has been packaged and repackaged in new book covers for decades all the way back to when Dale Carnegie was telling people how to Win Friends and Influence People.

What I want to hear is my own voice. Not the voice I think sounds ugly in recordings, but the other one. The little one that when I was 6 told me dinosaurs were cool and that becoming a ninja was a realistic career path. It’s the one that said I should draw and build forts out of couch cushions. The voice that said liking something is enough of a reason to do it and not because it leads to a stable job with a retirement plan.

I miss that voice. And so the next time I’m in line for the bathroom, or I step on an elevator, I’ll resist the urge to pull out my phone and instead stand in silence. Because maybe then, as the fear of a missed text or tweet subsides, I’ll be able to look out at the world in front of me and realize something much more terrifying…

That the floor is lava.