authenticity

authentic

2019-05-30-authentic_v01.jpg

Authenticity has been a big buzz word for a few years now. These days, calling a product or person “authentic” is high praise.

But I have a problem with it. 

Now, I’ve got nothing wrong with being authentic in itself, but when you’re trying to be authentic or when your authentic appearance is part of some ulterior motive, that’s another thing altogether. 

This quote sums it up pretty well:

“Sincerity - if you can fake that, you've got it made.”

― George Burns


There’s another side to that coin. If something is practiced and performed, does that make it dishonest? I expect all manner of content creators have asked this of themselves.

As a side note, I felt like the movie Galaxy Quest was a pretty enjoyable little exploration of that issue.

In my very brief experience recording for a podcast, this is something that has come up frequently. Even though I’m talking off the cuff for most of it, the whole thing still feels like a performance in a way. Knowing I’m being recorded and that the recording will be freely available online has a very heavy influence on how I think and what I say.

I don’t expect that will ever change, but I also don’t believe it’s necessarily a bad thing.

Mr. Rogers Neighborhood was a scripted show, but it felt as genuine as anything I’ve seen. On the other hand, many ”reality” shows feel completely fake.

To be authentic is to be true to form, the real you. But what does that mean exactly? It seems to me a performance can be more revealing, more vulnerable, than a candid recording. Not always though.

This is still pretty fresh for me and I’m sure I’ll have more to say later, but I’ll leave you with these last few thoughts:

When you pour yourself into your artwork, whatever form that may take, it’s impossible to hide the real you. On the other hand, if you’re trying hard to be yourself, you’re probably failing at it.

it has to be you

[ painting courtesy of my little girl ]

[ painting courtesy of my little girl ]

Last year, we were working on making Mother’s Day cards for our Moms. My wife had the idea to put dabs of paint on a paper with sticker letters and then put that inside a Ziplock (or some off-brand) bag and have our daughter smear the paint around (this way there’s no mess). My wife’s great at coming up with all that Pinterest-y stuff. 

As is usually the case with any craft project involving children, it didn’t all go as planned. Our daughter, then a ripe age of 8 months old, didn’t quite understand what we wanted her to do and was more interested in pulling tape off the table which was holding the plastic bag down. So we had to help a bit (ok, a lot—does it even count anymore when you’re holding their hand down like a paintbrush and making them do it?).

The finishing touch for the project was to paint the palm of her hand and get her to make a handprint or two on each card. Now, even if you don’t already have experience with kids and paint, I’m sure you can imagine where this is going. Could have been worse, but this time she was much more interested in balling her hand into a fist and squishing paint between her chubby little fingers. No interest in making a perfect (or even recognizable) little handprint. It’s funny how it takes four adult hands to control two baby hands, but such is the way of things.

Before long, she started to fuss: she certainly didn’t understand why mommy and daddy were holding her like that and making her place her hand flat on the paper for so long. In the midst of it, I found myself saying (to my wife or my daughter, I’m not sure), “Look, it doesn’t have to be perfect, it just has to be yours!” That was when I got it. What mattered to our moms is not what it looked like, but who made it.

My daughter couldn’t appreciate those words yet, though I plan to continue to encourage her with them, because they’re true: you don’t need to be perfect, you just need to be you.

Sometimes I get so caught up with perfection that I lose sight of what matters. It can get to the point where I’m in danger of losing a bit of myself in the process of trying to make something I think others will like, something flawless. But all my efforts and worries are for naught. At the end of the day, what matters more than achieving impossible perfection is authenticity—something I hope to strive for, with confidence and conviction.

 

Creatively yours,

A.P. Lambert

 

Hey Creatives, do you ever get caught up trying too hard to be perfect? What helps you avoid this or do you even see it as a problem? Let us know in the comments below.