By Yigal Adato
In September, my wife and I took a weekend in Portland, Ore., to see the sights and get out of town for a few days. With no agenda or planned itinerary, we were able to explore all that the city had to offer, from what seemed like never ending pine trees, parks and gardens to delicious food everywhere we went. We rented a car and drove along the incredible scenic Route 30 until we found quite a few picturesque waterfalls, too.
It was the perfect getaway, and made me realize how much I love nature. The city is truly gorgeous. So gorgeous, in fact, that my wife and I kept cracking jokes about how we want to move to Portland. Everywhere we went, people were helpful and the service was top notch. One day, as we finished a tour of the waterfall trail and were having lunch at a small, nearby town called Hood River, we began to Google the history and facts about the area, and learned some puzzling facts.
Did you know that Portland has one of the top suicide rates in the nation? Did you know that it also has one of the largest homeless populations, as well as some of the most crime due to heroin use in the nation? On the outside, it would seem that Portland is perfect but on the inside, there is some very deep pain.
This got me thinking about our perception of others. Seeing a nice car, house, or even clothes and sometimes, facial expressions gives us the perception that those around us are doing okay. But are they truly happy? We all have a backstory; a narrative that either propels us to success or holds us back. Many times it’s the story that holds us back that doesn’t allow us to be our authentic selves.
Portland was authentic, we just chose to look at the pretty side and ignore the rest. The same can hold true with our friends and family. We even tend to pretend to be fine just to be accepted in our communities, and because of this we perceive others the same way. Many of us hold back our authentic selves, and in turn, so do the people we love. You can see why this would be problematic; this can only create a superficial relationship.
So what does it mean to be authentic? First of all, it takes sharing who you are and who you are not. This is the hardest step because most of us have a fear of not fitting in and at the same time, wanting to look good in front of others. If we are able to put those fears aside, we will be able to be we you truly want to be. This is because your true self is the catalyst that determines the course of your goals and dreams. This month, I challenge you to look at yourself and ask, “Who am I?” and “What is important to me?”
Once you answer those questions, share and ask people around you what is important to them. I promise you will begin to foster a bond that will be stronger and more connected than ever before. You won’t even have to leave town to do it!