Authenticity Begins Within You

By Bindu Adai-Mathew

What do you want to be when you grow up?

For many of us, it’s a question we were asked quite often when growing up.  For some of us, it’s a question that we often ask ourselves still.

When you were growing up, what did you envision for your life? Was it being a doctor? A lawyer? A movie star? A writer?

When you look at your life, was it what you had always hoped it would be? Or is it even better? Worse?

It was 2004, and I was newly married and had just moved to Florida. I was working in a job that I wasn’t thoroughly enjoying, and I couldn’t help but feel I had taken a serious detour in my career path. How had I gotten here?  Like many parents, especially Indian parents, my parents had just wanted me to be a doctor, but back in college, I deeply felt I had a different path that God wanted me to follow. So I pursued my English degree and my writing aspirations…Well, sorta. I admit I didn’t write…well, back then I was in my 20s! I didn’t have time to sit in front of the computer all day as I tried to wait for inspiration to flow out of me!  I had friends to hang out with, and, of course, my Mr. Right wasn’t going to magically bump into me while I sat sequestered in my room writing. I needed to be “out there” living and doing my thing. And dreamer that I was, I also had a practical side and still worked a “day job,” too, to pay the bills and save for retirement.

But flashforward back to 2004…I’m married, living in Florida…but I still wasn’t writing. It was around that time that my husband, too, began prodding me. Didn’t you tell me you wanted to be a writer? How come I never see you writing? Ouch.

A few weeks later, one of my friends sent me an excerpt from a book that a co-worker of hers was working on. She asked me to critique and edit it because her co-worker was seeking some feedback, and my friend wasn’t a reader or writer so she thought of me instead. When I read it, my thought was that it seemed more like an essay rather than an excerpt from a novel. So I took out my editor’s pen, added some dialogue, added some description, some metaphors, etc. And badda bing, badda bang, I handed back what I considered a very well written page to inspire her as she continued her novel. My friend’s co-worker immediately responded by asking me if I had published anything because she loved what I had written. Sheepishly, I had to admit that besides a few paragraphs here and there over the years, I hadn’t written anything. Oh, wait, a short story or two…but no, nothing to resemble a novel and certainly nothing that was published. Yet.

I later read over what I had written, and I couldn’t help but feel this surge of joy and excitement over that one page. I loved the way the words flowed together. I loved the scene I described. And most of all, I had just loved the whole creative process. Why wasn’t I writing, I asked myself. And then I knew it was time. It was time to start that novel I had always talked about.

So I did. I started it. Life got busy, and so I had to stop. But I soon got started again, stopped, started, stopped, started, stopped. Started. Stopped.

Sigh.

Why couldn’t I just write already? In hindsight, I realized I had much to learn about the creative process. Sometimes, to be honest, it’s just not that creative. Sometimes, you just gotta write even when you don’t feel like it. You gotta write when you don’t have time.Yes, discipline. Something I had never applied to my writing.

But I have to admit, there’s nothing like a significant birthday and the feeling that you’re getting old to kick you into high gear. I had one of those and a year and a half later, my novel was finally complete.

After many years of dreaming about it, talking about it, I had finally done it! I had written a novel!  But when I did, no streamers magically fell from the ceiling. No Publisher’s Clearing house “Congratulations” check magically appeared at my front door or in my mailbox. Besides a “I knew you could do it” from one of my best friends, nothing changed…Now what? I had finished my novel, but that didn’t mean I could quit my day job.

Little did I know I had just done the easy part. The much, much, much harder part is to get it published. And if I listen and believe the statistics, I probably will never get my first novel published. In fact, “they” say that it’ll probably take my second or third novel before I get something published. I have to write another one? Now? You mean I’m not going to be a Nicholas Sparks or a Stephenie Meyer and set the publishing world ablaze with my very first novel? The idea of writing another novel was very appealing but not when I have to squeeze in the time between work and taking care of my baby. Oh yeah, a month after finally giving birth to my novel, I also gave birth to a real baby, too! How was I ever going to write another book between working full-time and then coming home to a hubby and baby? I looked with dread at my black laptop workbag, realizing that yes, I wouldn’t be quitting my day job for a long, long time.

Sigh.

But I have to admit, even now, when I go back and read what I’ve written, I feel a deep satisfaction from my soul. And while I may not be successful in the world’s eyes, I know I have done something that gives me great meaning and makes me feel I’ve left my little imprint on this world, if only just my laptop.

So what do you want to be when you grow up?

And what, may I ask, are you doing about it?

Authenticity must first begin within us. Authenticity to ourselves requires unearthing, rediscovering, pursuing the talents, gifts, skills that God has given only you. Authenticity requires knowing that God made you unique and beautiful and for a purpose, and only by drawing ourselves closer to God can we truly discover those gifts.

I will praise you; for I am fearfully and wonderfully made: marvelous are your works; and that my soul knows right well. Psalms 139:14

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