Daily Step – What does it mean to be authentic?

As I was grading some assignments for a Social Justice class yesterday, I realized that over half the class mentioned the word “authentic” in their opening reflection for unit 2. 

In the assignment, they were asked to tell me what they already know about the topic as well as voice any questions they have as we begin the unit. 

Over and over again, their questions focused in on the word “authentic”.

The word was part of a phrase on the list of topics – “living an authentic Christian life” – but seeing the word “authentic” pulled out struck me.

What does it mean to be authentic?

I love this quote by John O’Donohue to help focus my thoughts on authenticity.

He reminds me that one else can see the world the way I see it or feel my life the way I feel it.

Therefore becoming my most authentic self is necessary in order for me to do any real good in the world. After all, the world needs my way of seeing, my way of encountering, my way of contributing.

How often have I tried to see, encounter, and contribute in an inauthentic way? 

How often have I coveted another person’s way of being in the world?

In recent years, I’ve come to know aspects of my most authentic self, my way of seeing the world. But, of course, I’m still figuring it out. Along the way, I try to live as authentically as possible.

I think the search for your true self it’s a lifelong process, but such a worthy one.

To be my most authentic self right now is to be someone who:

-Is contemplative
-Is messy (and I don’t just mean my house)
-Tries to be honest and open particularly in my writing
-Is quiet and works best behind the scenes
-Loves sharing Ignatian Spirituality and her faith with others
-Is creative
-Is dedicated
-Is blunt and open with God in prayer
-Is always in search of deeper understanding 

And so on… 

Finding our most authentic selves is a very Ignatian thing. It’s something the Spiritual Exercises guides us toward – an understanding of who we are as loved sinners created by God for some unique purpose.

So I love that teenagers are asking what it means to be authentic. I hope it’s a constant question in your heart as well. I know it is in mine.

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