Authentic: 1) of undisputed origin; genuine; 2) made or done in the traditional way, or in a way that faithfully resembles the original; 3) based on facts; accurate or reliable; 4) relating to or denoting an emotionally appropriate, purposive, and responsible mode of human life.
Dictionary definitions, while sometimes annoying and way overused, are good because of the blunt, direct way they express things.
A while ago, when we moved from Colorado Springs, a good-sized city, to a little seaside town in South Africa with a population of 4,000 and no people my age (popular retirement place), I was faced with a dilemma: who am I, actually? I knew who I was with my friends, and in my various social circles, and at church, and in a place I knew. It’s kind of shocking what happens when, at age 16, you are taken away from where you grew up and put in a place so far from anything you’ve ever known. You realize how defined you are by other people; how much you have adjusted yourself to fit the expectations and desires of others; and how little you really know yourself, and know who Christ made you to be. You also realize how much unnecessary fluff and drivel there is, not only to you and your life, but to your beliefs.
There is also the 3rd culture element. I am a 3rd culture kid; a South African who lived in the US for 10 years, thereby combining two very different cultures to create a 3rd, unclassifiable one. There are more of us in the world than you probably think, and we struggle with this: we do not belong to the first culture entirely, nor to the second one entirely, and our third one is so unique and undefinable that we just kind of feel like nomads. This obviously adds to the identity issue.
It was difficult, I’m not gonna lie. But I had about three years to be alone, and I do mean alone, with my parents and God. I even finished school over the internet. Now I’m glad, because those three years were a desert, and we all know that God does His thing wonderfully well in deserts. It’s kind of impossible, actually, to be in a desert, literally or figuratively, and not have God speak to you and not have yourself be changed enormously. Or, not changed; renewed. Recharged. Rebooted. God showed me this very obvious and yet very challenging fact: I am not defined by being tall, or liking certain movies, or reading certain books, or being South African, or being American, or being a traveler, or being a 3rd culture kid. I am defined by Him, and I am me, and that’s all I ever can be. Everyone is completely unique, and our human attempt to define each other is pointless and really quite silly. The truth is, none of us fits into a box. None of us should try. We are who we are.
Authenticity. To me it is synonymous with integrity, with truth, with genuineness and sincerity. It is who God made you to be. It is the truth without the fluff and extras. Attempting authenticity, daily.