Showing up as who you truly are takes effort, but it’s worth it
Bridgette Picou

Ever notice how some words become the new “buzz” and get interjected into everything? Articles, podcasts, TV shows, etc.…? Suddenly it’s on everyone’s mind, and folks are trying to top one another in how many ways they can use it or who can parlay it into the new must-take self-help course, or the must-attend mental health forum?

Authenticity is one of those words these days. Live fully as your authentic self! Be true to yourself and to your relationships! Show up as your authentic self and screw what anybody has to say about it! I’m not saying it’s a bad thing, just that folks can latch onto things but forget there is work behind the words. The actual process of putting it to work can get lost in the shiny new buzz.

Authenticity on the surface is easy. Say who you are, be who you are, be true to who you are. Easy enough to say. I’m Bridgette, I am a nurse, I love nursing. Except nothing is that easy in life. Life, and we as people, are layered. I am Bridgette, but do you have any idea how often I get told I don’t “look like” a Bridgette? Or that I spell it wrong? Bridgets are blond, blue-eyed and white. It took years for me to not be taken aback and upset when people said that. It felt like they were saying I was too ugly or too Black to be a Bridgette. I am a nurse, but to some people since I’m an LVN and not an RN, I’m either not a “real” nurse, or not the nurse I could or should be. I do love nursing, but sometimes humans annoy my soul and make me question my life choices, LOL. Do you see what I mean? There is heart work and sometimes healing work that goes into being fully aligned. I haven’t even mentioned the work it takes to show up as a Black woman with HIV. Those things are absolutely part of my living as who I am authentically, but the work of it is exhausting sometimes.

Having said all that there is freedom in being true to your authentic self. One of the cooler aspects is once you figure out what that means for yourself, people can’t take it from you. No one can tell you that you are doing wrong. Well, they can, but it doesn’t hold weight. There is peace and confidence that comes from knowing thyself. For example, for me, stigma is far less weighty in and on my spirit since I walk in my truth of HIV. Stigma stings less and I pay less attention. Don’t get me wrong, I still get pissed occasionally when it’s thrown in my direction, but it’s more about the disrespectfulness of it as opposed to it hurting or stirring up feelings of

shame. It’s also been a very long time since using my voice as a passionate and full-throated Black woman expressing myself kept me from speaking for fear of being misconstrued as an “angry black woman.” Maybe you are familiar with being told you are too much, too loud, too little, or too opposite of something.

These are just my examples of things that could keep a person from being truly who they can be. These are things that people who are uncomfortable with their own authentic selves use to tell you how your authenticity is too much of something. Their discomfort is what makes them tell you that you are doing it wrong. Who are you? How do you wish you could show up that is different from how you do now? What changes could living authentically bring in your life? It requires effort, but it’s worth it!