I run a monthly Meetup book club. In this week's meeting, we discussed a chapter from Brené Brown’s The Gifts of Imperfection: “Cultivating Authenticity: Letting Go of What People Think.” We’re a pretty laid back bunch. We all bring a question or topic from the reading we want to discuss and throw it up on the white board, followed by a casual but meaningful discussion to reflect on these questions.
The subject of cultivating authenticity brought up issues of (un)worthiness, connection, hustling, exhaustion, and boundary setting. Many agreed that they’re just over it--over the behaviors that go along with hustling, the yucky, slimy feelings that come when you know you're in the hustle, the energy drain and exhaustion.
Hustling to prove, perfect, please, placate, perform, and pretend to get approval and acceptance from others takes us out of a place of authenticity, or who we really want to be when we’re aligned with our values. The hustle is exhausting, and what’s even worse, it doesn’t even produce happiness, fulfillment, joy, or connection.
However, when we want to be authentic, we enter into territory that many may avoid because it requires vulnerability. In this chapter, of The Gifts of Imperfection, Brené explains that choosing authenticity involves this:
- Cultivating the courage to be imperfect, to set boundaries, and to allow ourselves to be vulnerable;
- Exercising the compassion that comes from knowing that we are all made of strength and struggle; and
- Nurturing the connection and sense of belonging that can only happen when we believe that we are enough
Thus to step into authenticity and to leave behind the hustle for worthiness, we need to gather the courage to show up. The courage to set boundaries, to believe in our own worthiness, to claim both struggle and strength—the courage to be authentic. The group supported the practice and discussion of how to approach others in their lives with whom they want to address disagreement as their authentic selves, and not the hustling, approval-seeking version.
We need to be willing to stop the performance. Stop trying to be what the culture at large or the subcultures in our communities say we’re “supposed to” be, what they say about what we’re “supposed to” do, look like, earn, etc., and what that translates to about our worthiness and acceptance within that community. That’s a really scary thing if you question your belonging in the first place. But if you have to please, perform, perfect, and pretend to be accepted, is that a community you want to be a part of anyway? Or, having seen Bad Moms, like Mila Kunis’ character, perhaps everyone is tired of the hustle and needs your permission and leadership to leave it behind.
Letting down your guard, putting down your armor, and letting ourselves be seen for our authentic selves demands that we first identify our values and a few trusted people we can have supporting us in this endeavor. Our values anchor us on the journey to be authentic and show up, and our trusted friends and family provide essential support to bolster us along the way.
It’s liberating and energizing to live in authenticity and not have to worry about upholding the bright and shiny mask. It comes down to asking yourself, do I want to continue to suffer from the side effects of hustling? Or am I willing to engage in authenticity, honor myself, and really build connections based on substance? Are you over the energy and soul-sucking hustle? I know I am.