Authenticity, a word that is being thrown around a lot lately, but what does it really mean to be authentic. Last Friday, I was taking a moment out lying on my bed and suddenly I felt connected to the sheet, I actually felt the coldness of the Egyptian cotton sheet against my skin. In that moment, I realised that I had not felt any sensation on, and in, my body other than the daily back pain I have lived with since I was a kid. I had a horse-riding accident when I was 12 and for the past 35 years I have lived in pain, some days are worse than others, but lately over the past 4 months the pain had become unbearable. As I sleep I am aware of it, it keeps me awake, it keeps me aware, it keeps me immobile, too scared to move around or shift from side to side. But on Friday as I felt the smooth coldness of the sheet underneath my naked back, I had an intense realisation that I had become completely and totally disconnected from my body. The only connection I had with it, was the pain, the exhausting ever lasting unrelenting friggin pain that I wake up with every single day. I had forgotten what it was like to experience joy, sensations, sensuality. It was an AHA moment for me as I started to connect the dots.
Since my debut on Television in 2006 and boldy and courageously travelling around the country doing talks to empower other women, I realised that I had lost my power. That I had given it away to fear, to uncertainty, to numbness, to pain. Moving abroad from everything I knew, and from everyone I could depend on, had left me in a state of fear. It felt like I was back at school, the bullied kid, not knowing where to fit in or how to fit in. For the first three years in my new country I hid, I wrote children’s books and I retreated, I lived in fear. After three years I finally felt like I was ready to start putting myself out there, to start teaching again, to write, to socialise. But…. God it was so scary, although I felt confident I also felt incredibly vulnerable, so what did I do, I started looking around to see how everyone else who stood in the public eye did it. I attended courses, I tried to reinvent myself, I tried to come up with catchy terms, fame names, SEO words to try and define who and what I am. But on this particular Friday, feeling those sheets underneath my back, I felt a strange awakening. It felt like I was waking up from a very long slumber, four years of my life where I have been absent, going through the motions, trying to fit in and be someone who I am not.
I think my awakening out of my hibernation started the previous week when a very courageous woman from the USA interviewed me as an expert for her Safe and Unfound programme, a programme that helps domestically abused women. I had been preparing for my interview by watching all my old interviews when I worked in that sector in South Africa. I watched my TV interviews and listened to my radio interviews and I felt two things. One, I felt in awe of the woman (me) who was being interviewed and two, I felt disconnected. I looked at my younger self and heard myself say out aloud ‘where did you go?’ what happened to you? I realised that ironically I had become ‘safe and unfound’. For some reason I had lost my courage, my courage to be vulnerable, my courage to be authentic, the courage to be myself and to be seen. I wanted that back!!!!
Lying on those cold sheets feeling sensation other than pain, a sensation that felt deliciously smooth and silky felt good, really good and I wanted more of that. I wanted to be alive again, to live my life standing in my own light instead of trying to copy someone’s else’s. I recalled how my life and my business took on a life of it’s own in South Africa. When I was authentic and put myself out there, suddenly I was in demand. I had no need to do marketing and sales, I had merely written a book from my heart to heal myself and to help others heal and then strategically published it at the right time. I let the right people know about it, I connected with them and voila! suddenly I was in demand! People magically found me, they connected to me, to who I was as a person. I was in every newspaper in the country, magazines like Psychologies and Oprah Magazine wrote about me, I was on the news on TV, I was featured on various TV programmes, interviewed on radio around the country, I even met Lisa Nichols from The Secret movie and accompanied her to an event! The whole thing just built momentum, it literally snowballed, all like magic! Looking back, what I know for sure is that it all happened because I was being myself. I believed in me, I believed in what I was doing, I believed in my message, I was being authentically me and by being myself, I believe, is when people are drawn to you like moths to a flame.
I was back and I couldn’t wait to see how being authentic was going to unfold in my personal and business life.