I remember asking, “Can a female professional be taken seriously if she doesn’t dye her hair?” I received mixed replies.
This was before the pandemic.
During our months at home, we all learned to make do. “Making do” meant different things to each of us. One of the things I gave up during this time was dying my hair. I never liked the chemicals or the time it took anyway. And, I realized, I need to prove to the women younger than myself and the girls of my daughter’s generation that authenticity is desirable and promotable.
Earlier this week, I was thinking about how feelings about authenticity change as you age, and I remembered a poem I wrote as a teenager:
The Facade Of A Smile
They don’t know me for what I am;
They look toward me only at the surface.
They see me for my smile;
Yet, they never ask what’s underneath.
I am consoled in, but I have no one to comfort me.
They don’t see me when I’m sad.
All they see is the mask which covers
The true feelings hidden deep inside.
The truth lacks the desire to be found;
It is happy where it is,
In the warmth of my mind,
Where it can grow without disturbances,
Making the mask of joy a little harder to wear,
Day after day.
I’ve always been a relatively joyful person, and I remember being surprised when this poem came out of my pen. Even reflecting on it now, I do not know if these were my true feelings or the feelings I believed I was supposed to have.
That’s the thing about authenticity. The moment you let your authentic self slip, it’s hard to know what’s real and what’s not.
For our children, for ourselves, let’s pledge to be our true authentic selves this year. After everything we’ve been through, we deserve to feel good being just who we are.