“Just remember,” Robin Williams’ voice says to the young, fake prince, “beee yourself.”
“Yeah right,” he responds.
The beautiful princess turns, looks shocked, “What?” she asks.
“Um, you’re right! A princess should be free to make her own choices,” he turns to the edge of the balcony, “I’ll go now.”
I had been told several times growing up that I should be careful of the messages that Disney is selling, and so I always have been. But when I sat down to flesh out some of the thoughts that have plagued my mind the past couple days (or perhaps more accurately, the past couple decades), this scene from Aladdin snuck in. At first I dismissed it, because it isn’t “deep” or “academic.” It’s a Disney quote, but I couldn’t get Robin Williams out of my head, “beee yourself.” Suddenly, it seemed fitting. So it stayed.
This blog has been a continual struggle for me because I don’t like it, but I haven’t been able to figure out why. I love writing and I love playing with ideas, but each week, I would put it off, for as long as I could, until it became imperative that I write something. Because I had to. Because that’s the point of a blog.
But I didn’t want to.
Then I came across this Erik Kim (thank you Josey!!!) and he put words to much of my frustration. When I read, “One of the most difficult things for me is to be inspired to come up with ideas to write about,” I was all, “YES, that’s me!”
“So friend,” he continued, and I blushed, (he called me friend!) but then I remembered I was supposed to be a man and read on sucked it up and read on, “when you start your blog— don’t take it too seriously. Imagine if you are just writing for yourself.”
I had initially started with a similar motivation, to keep a “public diary” as Kim would later write – I had actually used those same words a few months ago – but very quickly I began writing through the lens of, “Who might read this?” The idea of “likes” was infecting what I wrote, how I wrote, and more importantly, why I wrote.
And that was stealing the joy, and the content.
A few paragraphs later, Kim writes, “I think the “realer” you are when you write— the more authentic it is. I purposefully make it a point not to edit my thoughts too much— because at the end of the day, the blog is your own playground.”
I’ve always loved playgrounds and completely agree that as we get older, we should never stop trying to find them – literally and metaphorically.
Kim continues, “Don’t worry about being misunderstood, criticized, or critiqued. The more you censor yourself, the more you water down your message.”
That line struck me, like a bat fending off creative distractions, and I stopped reading. In fact, I was afraid to move on, fearful that he might ruin a perfect moment (yes, we were having a moment, and I blushed, again) by watering it down with more words, more explanations. He didn’t, but I still had to stop for a bit. Dots were wanting to be connected.
A few days earlier I had just finished a book entitled, “Start with Why,” by David Sinek. In it, among several other great pieces of advice, Sinek provides what I think to be one of the best definitions of authenticity. “Authenticity,” he writes, “is when you say and do things you actually believe.”
And that has been my frustration with this blog, I haven been catering my thoughts, my content, to likes, views, and comments – to what the I think the reader believes and wants, and not what I believe, and not what I want – fully.
I wasn’t creating false opinions or statements, but I was caring too much on how it would be received, censoring my views a bit, or just not writing at all if I didn’t think people would be interested in my thoughts.
Which is another component Kim tackles, “Blogging” he writes, “is just writing whatever the hell you want, and having some sort of forum to do so. Blogging is the ultimate freedom— nothing holds you back.”
I am uber conscious of pursuing the things I like, and I hate it. Whenever I go after things, things that bring me joy and laughter, I have this very female voice in my head (not my wife’s) that is continually questioning and reprimanding me for it. “If life is fun or easy,” it says with a slight know-it-all grin, “then you must be doing something wrong, because life, if lived correctly, should be hard.”
I hate this voice for several reasons, but perhaps one of the greatest reasons is that it has robbed me much joy, and in many ways, life. Right down to what I write about in a blog!
Authenticity is when you say and do things you actually believe, not what others believe.
Even when blogging.
Even now, while writing in a café, I’m conscious of what others might think of this post. Does it make sense? Is it jumbled? Is it shallow?
But I have enjoyed working through it, and to me, it makes sense.
Writing for the purpose of exploring, for fun, and on topics that I enjoy, that I believe in.
Wrestling with hard questions, laughing with simple moments, and admiring beauty, that too I believe in.
I’m not a wealthy prince, I’m not as strong as ten regular man, and I’m not handsome is he. But neither am I a street rat.
I’m me. And beeeing myself is right, because its right.
And it brings me joy to do what is right, and to be authentic.
It’s the ultimate freedom. And its authentic.