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"Becoming the Authentic Me"

I recently noticed that throughout my 14 years of higher education, I always found a place to get away and be alone, either to gather my thoughts, reflect, or just step away from my busy schedule. No one ever suggested I do this or shared with me that this was something they did; I simply did it. Some of these places included parks, the Blue Ridge Mountains, a running brook or tranquil river in VA, a wooded area in IL, or a private beach in FL.

Last fall, on one particular day, I left my work midday and I decided that I needed to go to one of these places. The problem was that I hadn't found such a place in NY since my permanent return to NY was so abrupt and unexpected. Nonetheless, I needed to get out of the office so I was determined to find a place.

I actually found a state park in St. James, Long Island. Ironically the entrance into the parking lot was only a little bigger than the width of my car and the lot could only host about 7 cars. So it was definitely small.

After I got out of my car, there was a wooden fence with a small opening. This led me to the view you see above. The walkway to the rest of the park was so unique. The natural structure of the trees and vines hovered above, giving ample shade.

As my eyes looked beyond the shaded covering, my countenance changed from one of curiosity to a satisfied grin because I knew I found what I was looking for - a place to be alone and talk openly and honestly to both my father and my Lord. A lot of tears were shed that day and many emotions were expressed; yet, it was that feeling of being authentic that brought a deep sense of release for me.

It's ironic that at times I feel a certain uneasiness when asked how I'm doing. It has nothing to do with the person but in how I'm to respond. Should I honesty tell them how I'm doing or should I give the usual, "I'm doing ok" response?

In some ways I feel like an actor. But then, when I think of it, each day we're all actors, each playing various roles to some degree or another and, often, it's not who we genuinely are - at least underneath our skins. I sometimes think we even put on a show for ourselves and become convinced that we really are something we're not. Whether it's a way to protect my real self or some form of coping with the realities of our world, I know I will give into this way of being again. However, I hope that when I fall into playing the actor's role that I will recognize it, own it, but then seek out ways that I may be more of who I was made to be with myself and others.

We all want to be accepted for who we are. We want to hear that we're ok. We want that sense of approval, that heart-felt message of affirmation which says, "you are loved very much." But the sad truth is that we live in a world where authenticity is seen only as weakness and being genuine is not a reality.

Perhaps you've never had that opportunity to "step away" for a moment from your day-to-day schedule. Try it. Even if it feels uncomfortable. Taking risks doesn't always mean financial. Take a risk on yourself. Give yourself the opportunity to be you for a moment. See what happens. You may find it uncomfortable, but at the same time, you may get to meet the real you for the first time.

- Justin Agoglia
Position: Clown transitioning into a real person
Time Frame: Lifetime process