First of all, before I could even be authentic tonight, I had to decide to show up. Shame was telling me I should just go home. Shame told me I should not have a drink with former coworkers/friends because I was too full of sadness and grief and tears today to be social.
I told myself I would go anyway. I told myself I would go and be authentic. My goal was to be authentic tonight– not to have fun, or be super silly, and my goal was not to have these friends like me. I chose to trust that I belonged, that I was invited, that me bringing my authentic self was enough, because I chose tonight to believe that I am enough.
So– what it meant to be authentic tonight:
Being authentic tonight meant choosing not to compartmentalize. It was a hard grief day, full of sadness and tears. I did not pretend otherwise, but also felt no need to cry in my friends’ presence. Despite my beer, I felt sober. And real.
Being authentic tonight meant that I thought about what drink I wanted to order and I ordered it, without considering what people would think or “if it was okay” to have the drink I wanted, regardless of what other people were ordering.
Being authentic tonight meant not lying. We talked about where we wanted to be in five years career-wise (a hard/triggering topic for me these days). I gave an honest, open answer, without getting into any specifics that I did not feel comfortable sharing with this group.
Being authentic tonight meant saying “I need to start heading home” when I was ready, even though no one else had made moves yet.
I chose to be authentic tonight and fight the shame. I wouldn’t say I had fun, because it is not a particularly fun-having time, but I enjoyed the evening and I am glad I went.
Being authentic means that I’m choosing to write about it tonight and be proud of myself- it is a small and a huge victory. Authenticity for the win tonight.