This spring I’ve been walking the mile and a half to my office in the morning, at lunch, and in the evening. It’s good for my body, mind, and spirit — movement, contemplation, and gratitude all wrapped up in a regularly scheduled break.

On my walk this morning, I heard seagulls. I grew up in the gulf coast city of Corpus Christi. Fourteen years of life on the gulf leaves you with the ability to recognize a seagull by it’s squawk. The repeated and persistent call of the seagull finally prompted me to look up. To my surprise, there was an enormous flock of seagulls flying over head. In Texas we say, “Bless your heart,” to communicate sincere empathy or to indicate you’ve done something foolish and are in quite a pickle. As I gawked at the seagulls, I literally said out loud, “Bless your heart.” 

After all, they are SEA birds. They will not find what they are looking for in North Texas. The design they’ve been given is not a fit for the non-seafaring metroplex of DFW. Apparently they are migrating to their summer home; even so, seeing them prompted me to ask some questions: 

• Do they know who they are and what they need? 

• Can they see that this is not the environment for them? 

• Are they aware of their own design? 

• How hard is it to be a seagull without a sea?

These are questions we humans need to be wrestling with. I’m sure the gulls are doing just fine operating from their design. Have we lost track of who we are? What we are designed for? How we are crafted? Have we flown off-course?

Authenticity, the choice to let our true selves be seen, is not near as simple as it seems. Sometimes we don’t know who we are. Sometimes we are full of our own self-doubt or insecurity. Sometimes society is asking for something else. All of this complicates showing up true to ourselves.  

Brene Brown defines authenticity as the daily practice of letting go of who we think we’re supposed to be and embracing who we are. 

Choosing authenticity looks like: 

• Cultivating the courage to be imperfect, to set boundaries, and to allow ourselves to be vulnerable.

• Exercising the compassion that comes from knowing that we are all made of both strength and struggle, not one or the other.

• Nurturing the connection and sense of belonging that can only happen when we believe that we are enough.

No wonder practicing authenticity is a daunting task. However, the payoff is worth the effort. Authenticity invites grace, joy, and gratitude into our lives. I think we all want that! It’s totally worth getting back on course. 

If I have one wish for you, it’s that you not force yourself to live in a space that doesn’t fit you.