Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Moments of Authenticity

I've struggled for a long time to find "my path"--my most authentic wave. Many years ago, I auditioned to work at Princeton Review (as a side job to supplement my teaching income). As part of the interview, we had to do a sample lesson about anything. I chose to do a tutorial about how to make an envelope out a recycled magazine page.

A co-interviewee decided to teach about quantum physics. (Please forgive me as I botch his lecture through the lens of my metaphor-obsessed brain.) He talked about how everything in the universe is essentially a wave. He also mentioned that waves can collide and cancel each other out.

That night, I committed to finding my authentic wave. I worried that if I lived on anything other than my authentic wave, then I would be at risk for canceling myself out.

As I brushed my teeth in preparation for bed (I had an early flight to Guatemala for a 7-day vacation), I got a call from an old friend who was in Houston for a conference. He wanted me to meet him at a bar.

Normally, my homebody self would have said thanks-but-no-thanks. The teeth are already brushed. But because I was trying to live my most authentic life, I jumped at the opportunity. We had a fantastic time together.

When I returned home at 4am, there were no parking spots to be found in my apartment complex. I decided (against my better moral judgment) to park in a handicapped spot since I would be vacating the spot in less than two hours to get to the airport.

Well, long story short, my car got towed, I had to call my friend to take me to the impound lot, I forked over a hundred or something bucks to get my car back, and I managed to make it to the airport on time. Phew! The best part is that I didn't even care. It felt great to be living on my authentic path.

While in Guatemala, as part of my quest to live my most authentic life, I decided to save up my money for the entire upcoming school year and then take a year off from teaching to go on a self-subsidized sabbatical.

Longer story, shorter: I traveled to India, an intentional community in Virginia, and folk art school in the mountains of North Carolina. While at folk art school, Hurricane Katrina hit New Orleans and many of the evacuees headed to Houston. I decided to return to Houston to help my friends create a tutoring program for families living in the Astrodome. And that's how I met my husband!

I say all of this to illustrate that I believe in authenticity and doing things that feel right and following my passions and my intuitions. But at the same time, I don't often feel like my life is reverberating with authenticity. I take these online courses about dreaming big or growing your creative business and I feel frustrated when I don't know what my goals are or what I want to do. And it can be hard to read my intuition. Sometimes, a bad feeling is just fear of inadequacy.

So, it was much to my surprise when I started working on my online course about Purposeful Conception and it felt like I was back on that authentic wave again. I'm having so much fun that I would rather not shower or eat so that I can spend more time working on it. I overhear Matt telling his friends, "My wife is weird. If I were on summer vacation, I would be out having fun. Sara just sits in front of her computer working on these projects."

I'm trying to pay attention to those moments. To collect clues about what feels authentic and why. Let me see if I can encapsulate it:
  • I like the challenge. It has been so, so hard to figure out the technical side of creating and executing an ecourse. I have to ask others for help, and I get frustrated, but so far I've been able to figure everything out. It's a challenge that is within my zone of proximal development. It's not too easy and it's not too hard. It's a bowl of porridge that is just right.
  • It's not conception, in particular, that I'm passionate about. I've been interested in it for over a year, but once I'm no longer in this phase of life, then I'll be ready to focus on something else (pregnancy? parenthood?). I am passionate about sharing information with others--information that I believe will make the world a better place for all of us.
  • I'm eager to interact with others once the course starts.
  • I like that the project requires a wide range of tasks. I have to do graphic design, write, edit, solve coding issues, project plan, read, make documents, take pictures, interview others, etc.
  • I like that I'm in charge of the project's direction from conception (pun intended) to execution.

I'll keep thinking about it. I want to make sure that I learn from this experience and these feelings of elation.

What's feeling authentic to you lately?

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1 comment:

Sarah said...

This is a very interesting post. I've started recoiling from authenticity (mostly as related to wedding experiences as being "authentic"-- see this article here: http://www.nytimes.com/2009/06/17/dining/17wedd.html, but as I start moving away from the wedding world, I'm seeing it everywhere it seems). So I guess personally, my pendulum is swinging away from "authentic," especially some sort of outward expression of what people think authentic means.

What does authentic even mean to me? For me, it's honestly my day in and day out. Right now, being authentic is being exhausted post-wedding and post-HUGE project at work. Authentic me is grumpy me because we have thank you cards strewn about the kitchen table, the fridge smells a little weird, and we're having some high school students coming over tonight for a project for a convention that my husband volunteers for. It's not glamourous, and it's not trips abroad. It's not even getting my car towed!

This isn't meant to be a criticism at all! I'm glad you are seeking what you feel is authentic to you! For to me, authentic is exactly what I'm _not_ seeking but as I exist as a person, an engaged citizen of the world, a daughter, an employee, and a wife right now, here, mundane as I am.

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