The almost inbuilt need to constantly reinvent yourself, stand out from the crowd and force uniqueness out every single pore of your skin. It saturates the air with frustration and anxiety, making you feel restive and incomplete, always looking for new ways to showcase that which you aren’t.
For years I held myself captive to this tenuous march to uniqueness by flaunting personality characteristics and forcing myself to be different just for the sake of it. Consequently, in my need to stand out from the crowd, I became imprisoned to my ego’s need for approval, and dissipated from the enjoyment of simply being me. I created an illusory self-image that I believed would bring me the fame and success that I sought for, while at the same time hiding my authenticity that held the truth about who I really was and what I truly had to offer.
Thankfully, in the past few months I was awakened to a subtle distinction between two similar words, that shed new light to the way I perceive myself. On the one hand is uniqueness, which arises from the ego’s need to respond to other people’s perception of you, and on the other hand is authenticity, which involves bringing the whole of you into the light – both the good and the ugly. I realized that uniqueness created the need for specialness and the urge to abrogate some parts of myself and adulate others, inspiring self-judgment and bigotry. On the other hand, authenticity liberated me from the need to be perfect and fit into other people’s stereotypes, allowing me to enjoy the whole of me and share my raw and uncensored wisdom with the world.
The following quote by Martha Graham was partly responsible for awakening me to this distinction, and helped me cement my understanding of it:
“There is a vitality, a life force, an energy, a quickening that is translated through you into action, and because there is only one of you in all of time, this expression is unique. And if you block it, it will never exist through any other medium and it will be lost. The world will not have it. It is not your business to determine how good it is nor how valuable nor how it compares with other expressions. It is your business to keep it yours clearly and directly, to keep the channel open. You do not even have to believe in yourself or your work. You have to keep yourself open and aware to the urges that motivate you. Keep the channel open.”
This quote depicts, in my opinion the very core of what authenticity is all about, and I have used it to smother my ego’s illusory perception many times. Through these wise words, Graham teaches us that we all have a story to tell that’s beautiful and empowering just the way it is. Camouflaging this story with pretence will only prevent the expression of our truth and the communication of our authentic flow of wisdom. Consider for a moment, that who you are and what you know has the potential of changing someone else’s life. Altering your authentic self for the sake of fitting into certain moulds, may initially give you the freshness and uniqueness that you seek, but constantly unfolding more and more layers of your authentic self will give your uniqueness an organic nuance, that isn’t a duplicate of someone else’s persona, but a brand new expansion of who you already are.