I’m new to running, so I have to put on some headphones and let my mind roam free so I will think about anything other than running. So as I was out on my little jaunt last night, my mind floated to a recent discussion I’d had with a group of ladies about Brene Brown’s definition of authenticity.

Authenticity is a collection of choices that we have to make every day. It’s about the choice to show up and be real. The choice to be honest. The choice to let our true selves be seen.
– Brene Brown, The Gifts of Imperfection

What strikes me is that this definition is so much larger than the way we normally define authenticity. It’s about who we are, in practical reality. Am I *being* who I *am*? Authenticity in this sense is more than the small notion we have that it’s about words and things we say. In fact, we’re often hesitant to “be authentic” because we we think it means always sharing everything about who we are and what we’re going through – no matter if that’s happy, sad, hard, hurt-filled, glorious or anxiety-ridden.

But according to Brene, our authenticity is based upon living out of our true selves. You can do that without sharing everything you’re going through or feeling.

And it’s so much more than that.

So how do we live authentically? Brene first points to being grounded in a sense of worthiness; that I am valuable in who I am created to be. For me, that can only come from having an identity in Christ and finding my value there. If I am created by God, in His image (I’m sinful through birth, but sin is not inherent in my creation), then to live outside of who he created me to be is inauthentic. Denying my natural gifiting – inauthentic. Being lazy, living slovenly, not caring for myself – inauthentic. Continuing in a path of sin – inauthentic. When I don’t live out my identity in Christ, I’m being inauthentic.

And really? If I choose to live outside of who he created me to be – outside of my identity in Christ – then what I’m saying is that Christ is not sufficient. That when he created me, he made a mistake or that his creation isn’t good enough. (Gen 1:31 anyone?)

Wow, who knew all this would happen when you discuss a little Brene Brown and then go on a run?

So, I’m walking out my last lap, and I come to the inevitable question: so what does this mean for me? The next song comes on, and without thinking I start punching (like kickboxing style) as I walk. A vision of Phoebe

flashes through my mind as I realize what this music has made me do. I know I must look like a total idiot. I decide I am not Phoebe – not that brave, not that confident in who I am – so I think I should stop before someone sees me . . . even though that’s what the music makes me feel like doing. Music moves me. It’s a part of who I am. It stirs up deep emotions and thoughts within me. I can’t help but be touched by it.

Bam! It hits me: to stop punching (read: to stop looking like an idiot) is inauthentic. Oh, Brene Brown get out of my head! So I don’t stop. I punch harder. I walk faster with the music. The next song comes on, and I move the way it makes me feel (still continuing to walk and move forward…I was still exercising, you know). I probably walked faster and got a better workout. And it didn’t bother me because in that moment, I felt comfortable with who I am . . . a girl who is trying to have fun while getting some exercise, who loves music and lets herself be moved by it. When I think about it that way, it even sounds like someone I want to be. To answer my own question, for me this week, to live authentically means walking however I feel like it.

So when you see some crazy chick speed walking with swagger. Or dancing in the street. It’s me. Being me.

That’s Authenticity.



  1. Ah, another Brene Brown convert!

    I’ve recently had to stop running (it’s the subject of an upcoming column), but my most authentic way was to run at the high school track at 5 a.m. when no one was around so I could wildly gesticulate to the music. Not sure where I’m going to fit in my wild gesticulating now.

  2. spaghettipie

    Ah, yes, Megan. I’m a big fan. 🙂

    I’ll look forward to reading your post! Perhaps you can wildly gesticulate in your writing?

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