On Being Authentic

I remember my high school Spanish teacher telling me I “beat to my own drum”. I didn’t attend a single party in high school but opted to study instead. I recorded Days of our Lives and General Hospital each day in college and couldn’t wait to get done with class so I could watch them. I went to one of the nation’s top party schools but would leave town every weekend when the football tailgaters arrived. I didn’t step foot in a bar until maybe my senior year of college and that was out of obligation to a good friend of mine who had been begging me to go out. Even at that I don’t think I drank that night. To this day I’ve never been drunk. But I’m fine with it because it’s who I am. I’ve always been authentic and true to myself. Don’t get me wrong, there’s plenty of times I’ve lost my way and had to fight my way back, especially after my marriage of 10 years ended and in the aftermath I realized that I wasn’t even someone I recognized anymore. I’m authentic and it’s the only way to be. I walk my own talk. I would never tell someone to do something I haven’t done. Leave a marriage where you’re being treated in a way that you don’t allow yourself to be treated? Check. Leave my career as VP at a dot com because I know I am capable of more? Check Check. These things aren’t easy. I still struggle daily with the former. The easy thing to do is to stay in situations where we don’t thrive. But that’s never been who I am.

I had an experience recently that both surprised and delighted that little voice inside of me that always questions if I’m just fooling everyone, including myself. I got a head shot taken for my new website. When I received the file, I opened it up and thought “WOW, I look amazing!” I was perfectly tan and my complexion was flawless. My skin tone looked as if I had a makeup team working with me all morning. And those wrinkles and crow’s feet were gone, along with that darn blemish that showed up days before the photo. I looked perfect!

The reality was that before the picture was taken I had been to the chiropractor, had run errands all over town and really hadn’t prepped for the photo at all. On my way to the studio I changed my shirt during a stop light and dabbed on a little under-eye concealer using the mirror on the back of my sun reflector. This all between sips of freshly brewed Starbucks coffee from the drive-thru. Really. This is how I roll. And I love it. So when I opened this picture and saw the perfection, I was really impressed. I uploaded the picture to my website and all of my social media profiles. THIS is how it’s done, I thought. I know they touched up a few things, but I looked better than expected so I was happy.

Fast forward a day or so and I couldn’t get rid of this weird feeling I had in my gut. The photo was bothering me. The fact that I had put a photo out there to represent who I am, that doesn’t really reflect who I am, was bothering me. Down to the core. I felt like an impostor. How could I tell my girls (I coach Girls on the Run) that I was okay putting an air-brushed photo of myself out there rather than embracing my real self? How could I explain to my two sons why the lines on my face were missing in this photo? I talk to my boys a lot about integrity, always being your true self whether anyone is looking or not. How could I sleep at night? The answer is that I couldn’t. I loved that my gut told me what I needed to do and I knew it. There was no question in my mind. I knew how to fix it. This is what I sent the photographer:

“Looks beautiful…though I’m wondering if you can send me over the original file without the re-touches. I know I had a blemish on my right cheek that I would have been okay having touched up/out but I do have wrinkles on my forehead and it looks strange not seeing them in this photo. I always want to represent myself as my true self…I’m okay with an untouched file.”

I received a response, along with the original file, almost immediately. I instantly felt better. I uploaded the file as quickly as I could, replacing the perfect, touched-up version of me with my real self.

Here’s the thing – we aren’t perfect – and we shouldn’t be expected to be or expect ourselves to be. We are a result of our journey. Each wrinkle tells a story. Each roll of belly fat tells a story. Those crow’s feet? I think I inherited them from my mom and my mom is one of the most beautiful people I know (love you mom!). I accept what I look like because I accept the journey that got me here. All we can do is go out there every day and be our best selves, give 110% and be true to who we are. Without these things, we’re living in a world that we can’t own. Ownership is power. Without power we don’t get out there and do what we were put on this earth to do. OWN YOUR POWER!

Noreen Thurston is a former corporate VP who took a leap of faith to chase her dreams. She left her successful and secure career to create the life she desires as a professional organizer and life coach. She is ready to share her skills and experiences with you to help you lead your best life! Contact her to schedule your consultation.



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