Last night, my friend Tammy presented to our writing group on the subject of ‘Embracing Authenticity and Personal Growth,’ and it was illuminating. One of the exercises we did helped us identify our core values. A lot of people wrote a long list, but I found that when I thought about it, there were four that really spoke to me.
When asked to, I ranked them in that order, but really, they are all equally important to me.
Authenticity is important to me because I have experienced its opposite. I wore a mask for 47 years, and I never want to live that way again. I feel the need to be who I really am at all times. It’s not to say that certain groups of people don’t get slightly edited presentations of who I am, but those are all real faces, not a constructed mask. It’s my most important value because if I am not giving people my actual self, then what am I giving them? I am my greatest asset, not a false persona I construct to be more socially acceptable.
Empathy is important because we need to feel each other’s pain and joy if we are going to truly connect, and connection is vital. To be honest, I struggle with this sometimes. It’s hard to recognize the humanity of people who refuse to recognize yours, but we must do it anyway. I tend to be a pretty empathetic person (fun fact: if someone volunteers that they are an ‘empath’ 9/10 times they use their powers for evil) and that makes it easy for me to feel overwhelmed in emotionally intense situations. I can also be fairly easy to manipulate emotionally. I’m a sucker for a good sob story. So, I’m working on having boundaries while at the same time not abandoning empathy.
Open-mindedness is important because we suffer if we walk around making judgments about things that we haven’t taken the time to fully understand. We need to be open and curious in every situation, while always examining our thinking to make sure we’re honest, accurate, and consistent (where possible). We need to be willing to learn new things and accept perspectives that we may never have thought of before.
And creativity is how we express the spark of the divine that is in all of us. Everyone needs some sort of creative outlet, or their soul will wither and die. Also, creative thinkers make the best problem-solvers, and we can all use more of that.
So, thanks Tammy, for making me think about this. There were a lot of useful things in that presentation, but this is the part that really stuck with me. These are my core values, and I like to think they are reflected in how I live my life and the work that I produce, but I will let other people be the judge of that.