When I was in high school, I remember my school principal taking about authenticity (way before Instagram was a thing). He would use the analogy of a cabbage, saying that it only ever strives to be a cabbage and nothing else. In the same way, he would encourage his students to be true to themselves, and to embrace authenticity.
I have a valued friend that I have known for a number of years, through my work. Let’s call her Stella (not her real name, off course!)
Stella has been around the sun for over half a century. Her face is lined with many wrinkles, she is a bit on the tubby side, loud, and pretty much as rough as they come. Stella’s life has been no bed of roses. She is a survivor of breast cancer and has lost one breast as a result. Her brother was a victim of suicide. Stella swears like a trooper, is adorned with tattoos, and doesn’t sugarcoat anything. She says it how it is. I think you get the picture. With Stella, what you see is what you get.
Despite her rough exterior, Stella has a heart of gold. If need be, she will give you the shirt off her back. If you are her friend, you are a friend for life, and she will always be there for you. Stella is a nurse, and a very good one at that. Looking after people is what she does best. I have seen how Stella goes out of her way to make her patients feel worthy, valued and comfortable, even if it means sacrificing her own needs, even if her feet are sore, or she has gone for hours without food.
To the casual observer, Stella looks like a very rough middle-aged woman. She is not likely to win a beauty contest anytime soon. But looks can be deceptive.
Despite her outer appearance, Stella’s inner beauty shines incredibly bright. When she walks into a room, she totally lights it up. You cannot help but love Stella, even if she does swear, because that’s just how she is. She is not out to impress anyone, and she certainly doesn’t set out to light up a room, she just does. She just is…..well, she just is Stella!
What I really admire about Stella is her absolute authenticity, and this authenticity is what draws people to her. She is living life on her own terms. At a time when so many people are hiding behind filters and social media posts, it is truly refreshing and inspirational to meet someone like Stella.
We are all here to play our unique part in the drama of life, not to be like anyone else. There is power in being authentically you. May you seek it, find it and embrace it.
Maybe you know someone like Stella. Maybe you are like Stella, without realising it!