If you’re fairly present on social media like I am, you may have noticed some really positive words are trending lately. Words like authentic, and intentional, and vulnerable – they’ve all been reaching their veritable status buzzwords and are now being hashtagged at a fever pitch. It seems fairly evident that people are growing increasingly weary of the constant facade and are tired of being bombarded with picture perfect highlight reels of seemingly perfect lives on social media. So we carve these words into the covers of our journals or buy beautiful hand lettered prints on Etsy, determined to apply their virtues as we embrace the new year.
And for many, thats where it stops.
Because reality is that these are incredibly demanding words. They fly in the face of all that we value as a modern society and demand that we live in a radically countercultural way to everyone and everything around us. And for most of us, thats just simply not what we signed up for.
I mean sure, we like the IDEA of “intentional,” and we want people to SEE us “authentic,” but are we really ready to sign up for turning our entire existence upside down to dedicate ourselves to words that so wholly refute most everything we have built our lives on?
And so countless women across Instagram throw their hair into a strategically messy ponytail, put on their makeup but skip those last steps of eyeliner and gloss, and take 3-4 outtakes before finding the perfect selfie to hashtag #therealme
Moms all over Facebook straighten up their living rooms, leaving a few toys scattered just so, and post a half-truth update about needing to be #authentic about the way their house isn’t actually perfect.
Ugly, gross, embarrassing truth time? I’ve DONE this. For my own personal confession, I present to you Exhibit A in the case against me for my own pseudo-authenticity. Last year I posted this photo to Instagram:
I captioned it, “Authenticity Moment” and went on to talk about how important it was to show our real lives on social media and not be afraid to show our messes. And sure, there are a few dishes in the sink here, and the paper towel roll needs refilling, but seriously? You want to see a REAL authenticity moment? THIS is what my sink actually looks like sometimes:
Y’all. I CANT EVEN. Feel free to call me out for that one, because I *know* I deserve it.
We are selling ourselves short if we really think this is the best we can do. Authenticity is so much more than a buzzword. Being Intentional? Its hard work: taking every thought captive, and making every choice with a real thought to our values and goals. And being vulnerable? Its probably the most intense of them all – baring our flaws in all their glory so that HIS glory can shine through. Its easier said than done, but it certainly doesn’t mean we shouldn’t try to do them either.
Pseudo-authenticity isn’t helping anyone. Can we all just agree to stop cleaning up our houses for company and then saying “oh sorry for the mess” when they walk in? Can we actively try to look at our social media and consciously reflect our lives in their most authentic state? Can we stop simply lettering these words across our coffee mugs and surrender ourselves to them in a real and radical way? Or maybe for some of us its a simple as promising not to keep offhandedly hash tagging these life altering words until we’re wholly ready to see our lives transformed into something unrecognizable.
I can promise you this, if you dedicate yourself to discovering the height and the depth of words like these: it may not mean suddenly uprooting and moving to another state, or jumping into a new career, or putting your life online for the world to see – that happens to be my story, and yours may look nothing like it – but it WILL be utterly transformative. Life as you know it will change in every facet of your existence, and nothing will ever be the same.
STEPHANIE TAIT IS A MOTHER OF TWO, CURRENTLY LIVING IN SALEM, OREGON. AFTER WALKING AWAY FROM A SUCCESSFUL PORTRAIT PHOTOGRAPHY BUSINESS SHE LAUNCHED HER PERSONAL BRAND, FOR WHICH SHE IS NOW A FULL TIME AUTHOR, SPEAKER, AND BLOGGER, SHARING HER UNIQUE STYLE OF WHIMSICAL PHOTOJOURNALISM PAIRED WITH HER HUMOROUS AND HEARTFELT MUSINGS ON LIFE, FAITH, PAIN, AND PARENTHOOD.