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Updated: Dec 24, 2023

In my journey through life, I've come to realize that authenticity is not just a trait; it's my superpower. The more I embrace the most honest version of myself, the more I find that it draws people into my world, creating genuine connections and understanding.

I remember a time in ninth grade when I first grappled with the idea of being someone else to fit in. Dressed sharply with a fresh haircut and new sneakers, I appeared confident. Yet, beneath that facade, I was a bundle of nerves, hiding behind a mask of fabricated stories to impress my friends. It was a desperate attempt to navigate the intimidating new world of high school.

In hindsight, I see the problem with that approach. If only I had the wisdom I have now, I would have embraced my fears and shared them, realizing that my friends were likely just as scared. Instead, I chose to present a version of myself that was far from authentic. Over time, I outgrew this facade, learning that we all eventually confront our true selves, whether at 16 or 94, before moving on to the next chapter of our lives.

Now, I show up as myself, unapologetically, all the time. This authenticity either draws people to me or repels them, and I find both outcomes beneficial. Embracing our true selves is especially crucial in communities where "code-switching" is common. This practice, where we alter our speech, behavior, or appearance to fit into more 'acceptable' standards, is more than just a survival strategy – it's a barrier to authentic connections.

Code-switching, while often seen as necessary, prevents the richness of our diverse backgrounds from truly enriching our interactions. It stifles understanding and fosters a sense of tribalism. When we have the courage to be authentic at all times, we wield a transformative power. This power goes beyond changing personal perceptions; it has the potential to reshape societal structures and norms.

By choosing authenticity over conformity, we not only affirm our individuality but also pave the way for a more inclusive and understanding society. It's a journey that requires courage and self-awareness, but the rewards are immeasurable – for ourselves and for the world around us.



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