MY PATH TO AUTHENTICITY

This post was written by CRUDE Ambassador and guest contributor, Colleen Treiling. @c_treiling

Did you ever wish you were someone else? Wishing for their hair, beautiful eyes or slender frame? Did you ever wish you could be a great singer, an athlete or a comedian getting all the laughs? How about wishing that you were an “A” student or the one who garnered all the attention from the boys or girls? Well, I sure did!

As my younger self, I usually wished for something I didn’t have, or could never be. I don’t think it’s unusual to be that way as a kid, but it definitely is not the preferred way or the emotionally healthy way either. If you always want to be someone you are not, how can you possibly be your authentic self? For me, as that younger person, it was about acceptance and wanting to be part of the crowd. I didn’t realize I could stand out, with my own God-given appearance and talents and still be accepted for what I had to offer.  

It had nothing to do with how I was raised or the values I was taught, as I grew up in a wonderful family of 7 children and 2 loving and compassionate parents. It was an ideal upbringing actually, in a small suburban upper-middle-class town. It was a place similar to a town in a Hardy Boysbook. Everyone had a large family back in those days. We all knew each other or at least of each other. We often attended the same church and went to the same schools. It had a Friendly’s Ice cream store, which became a safe hangout for the middle school kids. There were no cell phones back then or internet, not even cable TV! As teenagers, we had to get rides since kids didn’t have cars like they do today. As a matter of fact, it wasn’t uncommon for families to have only one car. Yes, it was a much simpler time, but that doesn’t mean feelings and emotions were any different than kids have today.

Although I had a very stable and happy life, inside often I wasn’t being “me” to my full potential. What does that mean? To me, it means that I was afraid to be myself and share my true feelings for fear of rejection. It means I went along with the crowd, wanting acceptance rather than speaking up when I knew something was not right. I wasn’t living CRUDE!

I clearly remember the lunch table I sat at in high school. There were the usual 7 or 8 girls there every day. One particular girl, we will refer to as “Cindy,” was the “ringleader” at that table. She bullied one or two girls at the table all the time, with cutting and mean comments. It was awkward and so uncomfortable. No one said anything for fear that “Cindy” would bully them too. I knew it was wrong, and I felt sad for the two girls but was afraid of retaliation if I did speak up. That was about 1972, and all these years later I’m still thinking about that dumb lunch table. Why? 

Well, for one, now I know better! Eventually, I got older, much wiser and more confident in myself and realized that my opinions and feelings count. It’s amazing what maturity does for you. I realized that I’m good enough just the way I am and that my happiness comes from within, not from external places and things. I learned that being accepted doesn’t provide you true happiness, it’s what’s in our heart and soul and what resides in our deepest thoughts when we shut our eyes and go to sleep each night, that gives us our peace and happiness. It’s an extremely freeing feeling to take responsibility for our own feelings and emotional wellbeing and the course our lives take us in the short time we have here on earth.  If we truly are our authentic selves, speak our own truth, accept ourselves (flaws and all), people and relationships in our lives become more whole and truthful too.

If I ever run into a “Cindy” again, at this point in my life I think I will tell her, gently and kindly that her treatment of those two girls at the lunch table was unacceptable and I’m sorry that I didn’t have the gumption and confidence to speak up.  Now I know how to be true to myself, and I would never stand for a bully.  In being the person I was meant to be and following the guide of my authentic self, is the way I keep things real and honest.  In the end, my motto is to Live CRUDE: to be who you truly are. Because the stripped down authentic version of yourself is who you are meant to be, and that is a beautiful thing!


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