Authenticity: The True Measure of Relevance
“Authenticity is a collection of choices that we make every day. It’s about the choice to show up and be real. The choice to be honest. The choice to let our true selves be seen.” -Brene Brown
I turned 38 last week, and it feels…different. Nothing to do with feeling older; in fact, just the opposite. There’s a comfortable confidence to it. Maybe even a little more courageous than past years. With that said, people my age, women in particular, face a new struggle when we reach a certain point in life. And it has to do with a word I see, and hear everywhere lately. Everywhere…
It’s like the adulting word for popular. Think about it. In the professional world, relevance is key to everything from a speedy and successful job search to beating out twenty of your co-workers for the prized promotion. I won’t even go into the article I came across recently titled “How to Stay Relevant in Marketing after 40 (face plant). ..And then there’s relevance in our personal lives. Is how we choose to spend our downtime relevant to our role as a partner, parenting? But listen and look closely. Below is the definition of Relevance:
Relevance: appropriate to the current time, period, or circumstances; of contemporary interest.
Notice the words current and contemporary. Buzz words that we hear all the time, but as flashy and forward-thinking as these two words insinuate, they have one vital commonality. Lack of longevity.
So that brings us to question: How do we become relevant without compromising authenticity and our unique identity?
I believe that the secret to relevance, is to discover your reason, whatever that may mean to you. Be it in the workplace, in your relationships with peers and partners and in your own personal journey through life, the parts which with only you are familiar. The road to your own reason in life is lost without embracing, perhaps at times even facing, our unique identity in this world. Relevance, without authenticity lacks reason.
Relevance is the sprinter. She can dodge any curveball, jump through hoops and can even play a mean game of keep-away when she has to. But she changes her game a lot. And once she’s done, she’s done. After all, she has to keep up with everyone else. Authenticity is the endurance athlete in our lives. She stands the test of time, and doesn’t wash away with the weeks, months, and years of change ahead. She’s the one who will give hugs rather than handshakes because it is what she knows, even if others are seemingly unfamiliar. Yet, neither is mutually exclusive. It’s finding the sweet spot between the two that will get all of us through the long haul(s) in life.
I’m not gonna lie. I want to be relevant just as much as the next person. I would love my writing to appeal to everyone who reads it. I’d be elated if my daughter liked The Bangles as much as I did, and I’d be running the marketing world by now if every perspective employer thought my experience was as diverse and eclectic as it is through my eyes. But time and years have given me some perspective. I no longer yearn to seek outside mediums for validation of relevance, but rather, I look to my own reflection for my true measure of relevance in this world. Once you find this sweet spot where confidence dances with surrender, you’ll never want the song to stop.
If you’re lucky, you’ll find people and places who value your relevance on your own terms. I’ve been beyond fortunate to have kept friends for 30+ years, even when I’ve chosen to merely sprint against my better judgment. I have family, who has put up with the stubbornness and stillness of getting in my own way. And then there’s AddeoFit. Not only a place, but a tribe of individuals who rally to embrace relevance on each individual’s own terms.
Whether you’re a brand new 38 or a seasoned 74, I hope you find the courage to measure relevance of yourself, and others with an open heart, kind spirit and authentic intentions. This formula, after all, is a measurement that stands the test of time.