Authenticity? Or Over Sharing?

Today was a day of reflection for our department. We shared the successes and challenges that our team has faced in the last six months. We talked about our personal and professional accomplishments. We discussed the Johari Windows that all of us had individually completed for ourselves and for each other in the past two weeks. From this discussion stemmed a conversation about authenticity and showing your colleagues the truest version of yourself. The idea was that if all of your words were chosen and known to others, then it could be assumed you bring your most authentic self to work every day.

For my window, the six words I chose to describe myself were caring, giving, intelligent, introverted, reflected, and brave. Through completion of the Johari Window activity, all but one of my descriptor words were known to others as well as myself, meaning that I portray a fair and accurate presentation of myself to my colleagues. When we were sharing about words that were or were not chosen by our peers, I shared that I was not surprised in the least that "brave" wasn't chosen by my colleagues. I'm still not surprised.

To me, my bravery came out a lot this past year. I accepted a job at a school I originally hadn't even looked at. I moved to a state where I knew no one. I started that same new job and was totally overwhelmed and underwhelmed all at the same time. I adopted the best furry friend in the whole world. I made connections with new people, something that I have always struggled with. I conscientiously opened up more. I handled some really tough stuff at home. And that was just in 2015, never mind some of the stuff I've fought through in the past.

To me, I think being successful and moving forward despite (or in spite of) all of these things was pretty darn brave. And I tried really hard not to let the personal struggles show at work. Does that make me less authentic? No, I wouldn't say so. Because while my bravery is something that I value and absolutely believe to be a true characteristic of myself, I also think the other five words that I chose were true representations of myself as well. And apparently so do the majority of my department. 

Authenticity doesn't always have to be us sharing every little thing about us all the time. In fact, I don't think it should be. That's way more information or knowledge than any of us need. There are things about me and my life that my colleagues don't need to know, and vice versa. They're still getting to see the real me, this person who is made up of a specific set of DNA with her own thoughts and feelings and beliefs and philosophies. I bring who I am every day; some people just get to see different facets of who that person is.