AWESOMELY AUTHENTIC – Marilyn Armstrong

At a certain point in life — some people call it old and the rest of us call it “wow, I’m still alive!” — you become authentic. You are really real. Naturally awesome. Totally chilled. You are you

From that point on, you lose the choice of wearing a false face. The faces you needed while you worked, while you “faced your public” — if what you did involved facing “the public.” Garry could no more be a reporter now than I could put on my Working Face or for that matter, remember the millions of details I used to keep in my head.

If I had been the natural authentic “me” at work, I’d never have made it through a job long enough to collect the first paycheck.

Especially those of us who worked in a strictly corporate world, the last thing we could be was authentic — unless we were born in a tailored suit and always talked like a TV-series lawyer.

I suppose what most people mean when they say we are authentic is that we are “natural.” No façade. No game face. We aren’t pretending for the camera or the boss. We are being ourselves for good or ill. Mostly, I think it’s good. Purely opinion, however.

Professional work rarely suggests we be “us.” We are whatever we need to be to “make the grade” professionally. Those of us that never manage to find the right façade generally don’t “make it” to the upper echelons of the work we do.

I was good at The Face for about three months. My first three months at any job, I was perfect. It was exhausting. I even attended meetings! The worse job I ever had was as management when I had to hold the meetings. There was no one I could call to point out I was too busy to make it.

After those three carefully guarded months, I relaxed. Bit by bit. Otherwise, I couldn’t do my job. I became more insistent that others do what they should so I could manage my part of the task. If my first three months didn’t impress them, I was doomed. That was the most “not me” I had to offer.

I was not a good corporate player. The bigger and more formal the organization, the less well I fit into it. I wanted to fit in, mainly because I wanted the better salary and benefits, but mostly, that wasn’t enough.

I was impressed at how Garry had two different personalities for home and work.  His professional game face was not the one he brought home at night. The only truly consistent feature was his temper. If you got him really mad enough, well … you got what you paid for.

Garry gets his first look at the actual award.

These days, as we age, we are about as real, natural and authentic as humans can get. If by now we aren’t real, we never will be. The best part of aging is becoming yourself all the time.

It doesn’t mean you have to be rude, crude, or mean. Just that you don’t have to pretend any more. What a relief!

39 thoughts on “AWESOMELY AUTHENTIC – Marilyn Armstrong”

  1. Our younger daughter worked for Wonderland one year as a summer job. She learned very early that this false enthusiastic persona that one was suppose to exhibit just wasn’t her.
    Leslie

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Leslie, some folks just can’t switch gears and put on the “other” face. It’s not in their behavioral makeup. I could. I was surprised how easy it came to me. Over the years, I tried to upgrade the quality of my “ham”.

      Liked by 2 people

  2. Yeah, whatever it was those “other” teachers were that I was not got them tenure. But it worked out. I wouldn’t want to be anywhere but where I am now even though the driving factor that put me here was affordability because my retirement is about 1/3 theirs. But they’re not here! I’m in a place where a young cowgirl in Adidas warmups over her jeans and dirty cowboy boots stands in front of me at the ATM, where (on this first cold day in weeks) farm workers (Hispanic) come laughing and wahooing through into the grocery store where I just bought detergent and say, “It’s COLD!” and I say, “Yeah!” and we’re all HAPPY about it. There are fake people here, too, but they’re in the minority. But then people are pretty scarce. BUT I do not look like me. That part I don’t like or understand. I looked like me in my late 40s/early 50s.

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    1. You look like you to me 🙂 I didn’t know you back then, so the you that you are is the you I have fixed in my brain as The Real You.

      I never really made it professionally, either and at a certain point, Garry’s forward momentum died too. Many of us were poorly designed for the corporate world. Garry was great in the early days of TV when everyone was a little mad, but then the suits came and while he endured, he no longer thrived. For some reason, everyone seems to forget what really happened.

      I did okay, but once I realized I would never be a manager — even if a corporation hired me, I would hate it. I wish we weren’t so poor, but so do a lot of other people like us. We manage. I figure we probably won’t wind up living in our car. Somehow, we’ll get by.

      Liked by 1 person

        1. Martha, my days in TV news were like the early days in radio or movies. Technology was changing every day. We ad libbed a lot. We had flexibility and freedom to pursue and report stories in proper length without editorial restraints. When the entertainment divisions and suits took over the news, we were sitting ducks. Dinosaurs waiting to be sent packing. My final year was not pretty.

          Liked by 1 person

          1. That describes my teaching career, not that teaching was new, but there was a feeling of enthusiasm at all the new things we were able to do. ESL was new when I went into it. It wasn’t until the products of No Child Left Behind hit college along with publisher designed curricula that things got ugly. My final year wasn’t pretty, either. 😦

            Liked by 1 person

  3. I am trying to create a Brand for myself to attract more followers to get more people to buy my book. Suggestions from my publisher. I want my brand to be authentic. To reflect the me that I am. But as old as I am I am still trying to figure out my authenticity. I have the words “my authentic self” written on my calendar for April 02, 2018. Actually I know what my authentic self is; I am just afraid to put it out there for fear of imagined responses I will get. My optimistic outlook and my rational way of looking at life put me at odds with a lot of people. My fear of people’s reactions works very well with my tendency to procrastinate. I want my “brand” to represent my authentic self, but I cannot think of the right wording. I guess I’m not really old, yet (maybe this should be my brand!) I am the exact opposite of my sister. Thanx for letting me comment.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. For whatever it is worth, this whole concept of creating a ‘self-brand’ has never worked for me. We are too complicated. Can you imagine anyone telling Hemingway he needed to “create a brand” for himself? He’d have probably shot them.

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        1. I couldn’t do it. I literally drew a complete blank when asked a question as basic as “what’s your book about.” So being asked to define myself? Surely you jest. Especially since I’m such a moving target. Aren’t we all?

          Liked by 1 person

          1. I’m working on a little project thanks to Garry. Writing about what I know. I’m writing about my life growing up. Just notes. Starts out good-Then chaos. But hopefully it will help me pinpoint some characteristics. For me it’s easy to know what my book is about ’cause it was about someone else.

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    2. Elva, I would suggest using the “write what you know” in branding yourself. I’m thinking as an old tv news reporter here. You might write some short pieces about “memorable”times in your life. Things that have shaped and redefined you. Use those pieces as foundation for one solid piece that would brand You, Elva. I hope this helps a litlle.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Some authentic personalities are more acceptable to professional and social society than others. Mine, unfortunately, is not one of those that is very compatible. I am just genuinely disinterested in most everyone and everything around me, but my job requires me to care about the customer and my fellow co-workers… and my family requires me to care about what’s going on in their lives. Oh well… by the time I get old enough to know better, there might not be anyone around to have to be fake towards…

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I care about what I care about, but it is rarely what corporations care about. I don’t care about ‘company spirit’ and I loathe “meetings.” I think I should just do my job to the best of my ability which is usually more than they really need and that’s IT. They want me to “fit in.” Which I pretty much never do, unless it’s one weird company — and I did work for a couple of them, too. Sadly, they went bankrupt. I wonder why?

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  5. I think it is time to tell people exactly how I see things. While on medical leave my boss completely rearranged the department, including my job, and then ask me today if I thought he created some desks for people to fail. I told him I thought that is exactly what he is doing, and if he keeps piling things I do not know how to do on my desk, we would have the next discussion in the HR department. I would never have said such a thing years ago. He looked unhappy the rest of the day. Authentic day.

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      1. This guy made the decision to make the job impossible for me and at least one other. I will fight him with HR if necessary. He only hires young guys and probably hates the old guys he inherited. I need to work to July next year and he has to fire me to get me to leave sooner. I am sure he hates that after many good reviews in a row..

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        1. Yup. That’s the way it works. It’s way Garry got pushed out at 59-1/2 (6 months before fully vesting) and Tom retired early. I just got too sick to work. I know other people, though, who went out on full disability and you may be eligible for it. IF you have the policy, grab it and RUN!

          Liked by 1 person

  6. I enjoyed your post very much, Marilyn. In the workplace you have to be a team player. That means nodding and smiling sometimes, a skill more difficult for some than others. When I went to uni, I was full of hopes and dreams to be a diplomat. By the time, I finished my study I realised that I just wasn’t cut out for that sort of job. Nevermind, I still enjoyed the job I ended up in. Mostly. But you are right, now that I am retired, I enjoy (metaphorically) not having to wear the uniform anymore.

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    1. I was not good in corporate settings, though I was great in small development groups — which is where I thrived. Most of those little companies didn’t make it and by the end of my career, i was so experienced, only the big companies would consider me. It seemed like the small companies were sure I was going to cost too much — which wasn’t true. I had achieved “over-qualified-ness” … the bane of an experienced professional.

      I couldn’t do that work anymore, regardless. It was a very high-memory kind of work and the ability to remember many pieces of specific (and often numerical) information and pull them out when I needed them was essential. I don’t have that kind of short term memory these days. I literally couldn’t do the job no matter WHO hired me. I can write fine, but the detail would kill me.

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      1. What fun you must have had working in those small development groups. It is a shame that larger companies have such difficulty achieving a small company ethos. I suppose accountability gets in the way, and they made it to a large company for good reason. The aging process is very frustrating, but you are here now, and making a contribution in all sorts of other ways. History is important, and the young ‘uns can benefit from your knowledge. 🙂

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