Authenticity Isn't Pretty

I'm visiting my mother-in-law who is living in assisted living.  As we walk into lunch, we pass a very old man in a wheelchair.  I smile at him and say, "Hi! I hope you're having a good day!"

I thought he would say something nice back, as I imagined that people in wheelchairs get ignored.  Rather than smiling back he sneers at me and says, "What are you looking at?  You're going to be here soon. Just like me. It's what's waiting for you."

Ouch!  And happy birthday to me.

They say that old people are cranky.  Are they?  Or, are they just more authentic than the rest of us?  Perhaps at a certain age, we give up on the false pleasantries and truly say what we think.  After all, isn't authenticity the new buzzword?

The Internet is full of blogs, TED talks, articles, and books that claim to teach people how to be more authentic.  Can it be taught?  I know one speaker who wrote a book on authenticity that he had ghost written for him.  Oh come on!

We all were completely authentic to ourselves at one time as a child.  Clear on what we wanted.  What happened in our lives that so many of us now need a therapist to remind us of who we are, and what we want?

If we didn't want to please the elusive THEM, how real could we get?  Even alone, how many of us can look in the mirror and love what we see?

I spent my childhood pleasing parents and teachers, my 20's being thin and cute for men, my 30's being thin and cute for women, my 40's focused on  my career, and now, on this birthday, I'm feeling that I've earned the right to start telling people the truth.

So, I plan on my next trip to the assisted living home to find that man and tell him, "Thank you for being my wake up call.  Thank you for reminding me that life is short and how I need to live it authentically.  Thank you for reminding me that sooner than later I will be in that wheelchair with some arrogant younger person smiling an insincere smile at me.  And I hope that on that day I can truly let the truth rip."

Meanwhile... I hope you liked this blog.

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Judy's Blog

Judy Carter blogs on comedy, storytelling and public speaking techniques, using personal stories and her adventures as a stand-up comic turned motivational public speaker. Her weekly blogs are read by fans of her books, “The Comedy Bible” (Simon and Schuster) and “The Message of You” (St. Martin’s Press), which include comics, speakers, and entrepreneurs. She is also known for teaching the value of humor and storytelling to businesses as a leadership and stress reduction tool.