Opinion: Authenticity In The Present Tense

To all of the people who have written Authentic Eagle pieces,

Thank you.

Thank you for stuffing your most painful moments into ordered sentences. Thank you for clicking “Send” instead of holding down “Delete.” Thank you for sharing yourselves in hopes that your stories will inspire dialogue here at BC, a place where it often seems easier to remain silent.

Authenticity is a beautiful and terrifying thing, and you Authentic Eagles have charged fearlessly into it. You have ruthlessly ripped your skeletons from your closets, and with them, you have created an exhibit of vulnerability with free admission for anyone with internet. You are beloved, and you are courageous.

To all of the people who have not written Authentic Eagle pieces,

You, too, are beloved, and you, too, are courageous.

Maybe you haven’t written because you do not have the words. Maybe you haven’t written because you are not ready. Or maybe you haven’t written because you are not at peace.

Our structured attempts at authenticity at BC have limited authenticity to the past tense. When we share our life graphs on retreats, we dissect our freshman year woes with our senior year wisdom. When we share our stories of heartbreak, we include a longwinded preface of we’re-completely-over-it-now’s. When we write Authentic Eagle pieces, we disclose the precise depth of our sadness as we stand on the ledge of redemption. In short, we’re only authentic about bad times when we’re past them. We wait until life is good again before ever admitting that there was a time when life wasn’t good.

By defining authenticity in this way we usher our uncertainties into a waiting room where we make them silently sit until we have found the life experience, the hindsight and the perspective to convert them into lessons. We selectively silence parts of ourselves, and as a result, we are never fully authentic.

Real and messy authenticity asks for every last piece of us right now: even if right now isn’t the best time. Real authenticity ask for the parts of us that don’t make sense and the parts that do; the questions and the answers; the triumphs and the failures.

Right now, I don’t understand how I felt more alone on the Appalachia Trip Leader Retreat than I ever have nestled in the silence of the fifth floor of O’Neill by myself. Right now, I want to tell the boy I love that I love him, but I can’t even say “hello” to the ex-boyfriend to whom I said “I love you” everyday for a year and a half. Right now, I still struggle to breathe through the anxiety attacks that have been a staple of my BC career.

To all the people who have not written Authentic Eagle pieces,

Right now, you are beloved and you are courageous. Right now, we can expand our definition of authenticity and be seen and celebrated not for who we’ve been or who we’ll be, but for who we are.

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