On: Authenticity

by Meg Mottola

We are a society of a lot of things.

We are a society of fitting in. We are a society of immediacy. We want things and we want them now. We don’t slow down. We go go go, all of the time. We place value in what we look like, what we own, how busy we are, and how much money we have. We want the newer, improved thing before it even comes out. We think these things will make us happy. More often, they only temporarily fill a void inside us.. We’re scared to challenge the rules of our society. It is easier to conform to these rules than actively resist them. Letting go isn’t in our vocabulary; instead we cling to things, hoping that it satisfies whatever it is within us that we are too scared to face. The rules of society are a glass foundation we don’t want to challenge. Deep down, we realize how easy it is to shatter something that we have stood on our entire lives. So we walk carefully, ignoring things we shouldn’t ignore, judging things we shouldn’t judge, doing things we shouldn’t do, and saying things we shouldn’t say. We build our beliefs on top of this foundation. We cling to religion, to alcohol, to people who aren’t good for us, to controlling our bodies, going on diets, buying the next phone or gadget. We do these things to fit in, to feel connected, yet all it does is disconnect us further. We give people our likes instead of real love. We filter pictures through a lens instead of viewing it with our own eyes. But mainly, we disconnect from ourselves. We lose touch with our true self. Our authentic path starts to fade, and next thing you know you’re just going through the motions of life. But we have a voice; we have an inner self. When did we forget that and what is going to take to prevent that from continuing to happen? Before all of the conditioning of society took place, we had a clean slate; we had a choice.

When we are born, we are meant to live our lives for ourselves. We don’t come with a rule book. We don’t come with terms and conditions. For so long, I believed otherwise. I thought I had to live a certain way in order to be successful, accepted, loved, and appreciated. I felt if I didn’t live this way I was not worthy. I thought I would be a disappointment because I couldn’t meet the expectations that felt so heavily placed on me from various avenues. So I ignored my true self.

I could not control the fact that I was gay. I could not control the fact that there would be people who did not understand or accept me. I felt so out of control so once again, like in the past, I turned to my body and food. It was something I could control until it backfired. The more I ignored my true self the more disconnected I felt. I placed value on things I shouldn’t have. I measured my success in my schooling, how busy my schedule was, how much weight I lost, and how many hours a day I spent at the gym. The more I did this, the emptier I felt. These measures of success only felt good for a fleeting moment. At the end of the day, I was still denying my authentic self. I created this storyline in my head and all it did was steal from me. All this storyline did was steal from me. It stole joy, contentment, peace, love, opportunities, compassion, etc.

I can remember sitting in a park once. I saw a couple sitting together, laughing, holding hands, and kissing; And I so desperately wished that I could be that open, that I could share that kind of love with another person. I had so much love inside of me and I was stuffing it down with things that were the opposite of what love is about. I was scared. I knew the potential backlash that could arise: the stares from others, the words of hate. But to be honest, nothing could possibly be worse than what I was doing to myself. It wasn’t until then that I realized I truly only get one shot at life. It’s such a simple concept and it sounds so cliché, but in that moment I realized I couldn’t continue doing what I was doing. I had been destroying myself for a peace of mind I never got. The desire to feel whole left me feeling empty because of where I was placing my value and worth, all in hopes that with these things and destructive patterns, I’d change. Sure, my body had changed, as had my attitude but who I truly was, that was never going to change. No amount of pounds lost, or A’s received, or hours worked were going to change who I was on the inside.

My coming out was the hardest and yet most freeing thing I’ve ever had to do.

I no longer felt bound to these chains. Finally, a time had come where I could truly heal myself. Until I came to terms with who I was, healing wasn’t going to be possible. In a world that tried to make me who I wasn’t, all I wanted was a chance to be me. I had to start to let go of all of the beliefs I had filled myself with for so long. I had to let go of the beliefs that no longer served me. I had to let go of expectations, rules, and fears. I had to stop filling the void with the next best gadget, this and that diet, or the need to always be on the go. I had to really sit with myself and slow down. I had to un-become to become again. I had to start placing value in the things that actually mattered.

It wasn’t an overnight process and I will always be healing in some way; that’s what makes me human. I’m not going to sugar coat this, doing so is neither effective and nor truthful. Coming out was hard. I’ve been met with people who are not so kind, with words that hurt, and with a deep longing for others to understand. It’s hard but I am also so grateful that I have an army of people behind me who do love and accept me for who I am; who want nothing but good things for me; who understand that this is who I am and that I have been beautifully and wonderfully made; and that I am just like anyone else. I am a human with the capacity to love and be loved despite the fact that I am gay. Coming out was brutal, but also beautiful. In the words of Glennon Doyle, it was a “brutiful journey” and I would not change any of it for the world. I am who I am and I couldn’t imagine being anyone else. I love who I have been, who I am, and who I will become.

It is my hope that everyone gets in touch with their authentic self. If they are scared, then I hope they know they have a place to come to. If you are struggling, whoever you are, you are not alone. I am here, and so many others are here as well. You are worthy. You are loved. You are enough. You always have been and always will be.

Love and light,

About the Author:

Meg Mottola, 26, is an east coaster but a traveler at heart. After graduating from college, Meg is now obtaining her yoga teacher certification where she hopes to one day give back and share the power of yoga with others in her life. She is an advocate for mental health awareness, as she is in recovery from a 9+ year battle with Anorexia. Aside from writing for the foundation, Meg enjoys running, yoga, jamming on the guitar, and photography. She believes the key to joy in life is to surround yourself with positivity and to love unconditionally. You can follow her Instagram, @megmotts!