Why Isn’t Your Authentic Self Good Enough?

Robert Terson

At the ripe old age of 72, I have been, to quote my late father, “around the block a few times.” And since I’ve always been a people watcher, it’s been my observation that most human beings are not satisfied with themselves, with what I call their “authentic selves”; and because of that, they usually embellish their resumes, accomplishments, stories to the point of absurdity; they exaggerate about their level of education, military service, work experience, you name it. (In some cases they go as far as to steal another person’s work.) They lather it on like mustard on a baloney sandwich. The guy who went to Iowa may feel compelled to tell you that he went to Harvard. A cook in the Army, who never left the confines of the United States of America, may tell you that he won the Medal of Honor in Vietnam. The sales rep who’s low man on the totem pole in his company, all of a sudden is top banana in that company; and on and on I could go. So I thought it was important to tell you that your authentic self—the real you—is good enough, that you don’t have to get caught up spewing all this BS to make yourself acceptable to the rest of us. If you have outrageous goals, wonderful; but whomever you are, whatever you’ve achieved up to this point, is good enough—don’t try to make it out to be more than it is.

Besides, when you do, all you’re doing is making yourself look foolish. People will see through your mustard, believe me. Internally, they’ll be rolling their eyes at you, laughing at you, telling stories (gossiping) behind your back about you and your nonsense. In some cases, they’ll research you, discover your lies and shout them out to the world. You’ll look worse than foolish then; you’ll come across as a lowlife everyone will seek to avoid like the black plague. Jill Konrath—www.jillkonrath.com—once wrote a masterful blog entitled “Exposing a Sales Plagiarist.” I don’t recall the man she wrote about, but I remember he was a perfect example—the worst kind of example—of what today’s blog is trying to prevent. I imagine that after Jill’s blog “hit the street,” this man wanted to crawl into a hole and disappear; anyone with a sense of shame would’ve. Ask yourself how you’d feel if you plagiarized another writer’s work and were exposed for the fraud you were.

By all means, be all you can be, but don’t embellish a word of your authentic reality, your authentic self; whatever it is, it’s good enough to take that next step forward. The truth is something you always can be proud of; a lie is never acceptable. If, for example, you attended De Paul University, you can say that; if you never graduated, you can’t claim you did. Not complicated, is it?


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