What is Authenticity and Are you Authentic?

What is Authenticity and Are You Authentic? | Sedruola Maruska

I was stalking browsing my Instagram feed the other day when something I read stopped me dead in my tracks.

The reason I stopped wasn’t because I was so in awe of the information, but that it slapped me directly between the eyes. The whole tableau was wrong which is why it knocked the air out of me for a few moments.

Here was an influencer (judging my the number of followers they had as well as likes & comments) saying something to disparage other influencers. It was a simple sentence “these people out here trying to say they’re authentic with their curated feeds, makeup and clothes.”

What? In looking through her feed it was clearly ‘curated’ because it was lovely. But why question someone else’s authenticity, hold yourself up as ‘better’ when you’re doing the same thing?

The Question

So, I since I’m on a journey of self-discovery this year, I began to ask the question. What is authenticity? How do I know if I’m being authentic or not? We’re all out here doing our thing. You may be all about makeup while the next person is all about curing disease, is one more authentic than the other?

If my area of expertise asks that I dress a certain way most of the time and you happen to catch me “out of character” does that make me inauthentic?

What is Authenticity and Are You Authentic? | Sedruola Maruska

I grew up in a religion with many rules one being no jewelry. Mind you people could wear expensive watches, brooches and other adornments, but shame on you if your ears were pierced. What’s the difference? It always perplexed me, but I digress. When I was 26 I started my downward spiral personal walk and decided, against all inner-programming to pierce my ears.

When I’d go to church (because I was not yet the heathen person I am today) I’d wear my earrings. There were two reasons for that: 1) I didn’t feel in my heart that wearing earrings were “bad”; 2) I wasn’t trying to be something I wasn’t. There were times I thought of not wearing earrings to church because I hadn’t worn them all week, but I’d always wear them. I knew that had one of the good church folk seen me wearing earrings, and I took them off for church (out of respect) I would be labeled a “hypocrite” the ultimate in inauthenticity. That was not me, so I wore them (maybe to their offense) to church every week.

To me, being true to myself was more important than what the ‘good’ church folk would think. But to them, was I being inauthentic? Did they look at me and think I was not being true to myself because I was not being true to the church teachings?

The Definition

As I pondered the question I realized I needed to consult the oracles at Merriam-Webster. Although I felt I knew the definition of the word, having someone so strongly berate others made me feel I knew nothing.

Authenticity – Noun – Form of Authentic – true to one’s own personality, spirit, or character is sincere and authentic with no pretensions

Hold up! Did you read that? “True to one’s OWN personality, spirit or character…” What does that mean?

It means that being authentic is being true to yourself. If you’re putting yourself out there in a way that is true to who you are, your character, values, ideas so on and so forth, you are being authentic. The only person who can know if you’re being inauthentic is you.

Being authentic is not based on what I think you should be or do, but on what YOU think you should be or do. When we encounter inauthenticity we know. Something in our spirit tells us. If we’re listening, we tread lightly, if not, we get burnt.

Inauthenticity is when you portray your marriage as the one to be aspired to, but you’re in hell on earth. Inauthenticity is when who you are and what you portray do not align. It’s not when someone looks at you ans says you’re not authentic based on what you’re wearing.

The great James Baldwin says “I can’t believe what you say. Because I see what you do.” Being authentic is when what you say and do are aligned.

My Conclusion

So, after I pondered the post, consulted the oracle and explored my psyche I came up with this: What we say, do or criticize always says more about us than it does the other. Although I knew where the poster was coming from, they showed their insecurity more than anyone elses’ inauthenticity.

We don’t need for others to fail in order for us to succeed. If we stay true to ourselves we’re better off. If I don’t like what someone is sharing, thankfully, I can stop following. I’m also free to stay the course on what I’m working to accomplish. Throwing shade on what you’re doing, because it’s closely aligned to my venture, doesn’t make me better. It means I’m distracted.

In the end I examined myself and found being true to me is my authenticity. Speaking, living & sharing my truth is being authentic.

Go, speak, live and share your truth, no one can tell you you’re not authentic if you’re being true to yourself.


Being Smart is Sexy – Resist & Persist

Being Smart is Sexy, Resist & Persist | Sedruola Maruska

Being smart IS sexy.

In college I met all types of men & women. We were just embarking on this ride called life. There were classes to take, activities to join, places to go and people to love. Looking back I see how my years in college were vital to shaping the years to follow.

Relationships were always tricky. Navigating different personalities and philosophies could end up in a lifetime union or in disaster. But relationships were always part of college life and they were a distraction from school work and the great beyond.

I remember several times thinking to myself “I wish he didn’t talk.” Ladies, let’s be real, you know exactly what I’m talking about. He’s cute, ladies love him, and you’re wondering why he had to open his mouth and show you the hollow of his mind. . . .

Being Smart is Sexy, Resist & Persist | Sedruola Maruska

Don’t be hollow

Ladies, don’t be the “I wish she didn’t talk” girl. I’m not worried about the men, they say what they want, when they want. They don’t have the same censors we do. I’m worried about us. We spend the better part of our time diminishing ourselves and pretending to be small when we’re not. We’re surprised when a fellow sister does open her mouth to say what she feels or thinks. Sadly, we’re also so conditioned that we turn on her for being who she is without apology.

We dress our silence or smallness up as being humble, failing to realize that smart is sexy. Being able to speak full sentences strung together to mean something, is sexy! That’s why we wonder about those “hollow” guys. It’s because we don’t understand why we need to pretend we’re on their intellectual level, when clearly we’re not.

I’m not exempt. I’ve made myself small many times. I’ve kept my mouth shut for fear of sounding too smart, too dumb, saying the wrong thing, not having the facts and a host of other reasons. Thing is, men don’t censor themselves that way. That’s why when they go on about things that make no sense we feel uncomfortable. Our self-censorship puts us in situations where we’re not challenging our intellectual capacity.

We think we need to be small to fit into someone’s idea of who we “should” be. When what we should be doing is showing them who we “are”. We’re varied humans with thoughts, ideas, opinions and feelings. Learning to express them in a way that speaks to our truth without diminishing another is sexy. Smart is Sexy!

The result

Have you noticed how when we do put ourselves out there and find someone who can keep up, it turns us on! Can you imagine, that’s how he feels too? Contrary to popular belief, men (let’s not generalize, many men) find smart incredibly sexy in women. We don’t give them enough credit sometimes. They know that a smart woman will be a help to them along the way. They know that you being smart doesn’t diminish their intellect.

Smart is sexy! I don’t say that thinking it’s to find a man, I say that so you can feel your strength. There’s a new breed of people who are doing their best to make smart seem “stupid”, I’m not here for that. Resist the temptation to fit in with that culture. Persist in your pursuit of more knowledge. Smart whether it’s book, street, emotional or social is important to keep ideas flowing and innovation happening.

Feeling, looking and being sexy because of your smarts is just a lovely by-product. Step into yourself. Love yourself. Enjoy those things that push your intellectual growth and challenge your ideas. Be smart! Not just because smart is sexy, but because your survival depends on it.

Now, more than ever, women are at the forefront of major innovations and change. We need to keep pushing forward so we keep going in our becoming.

Becoming stronger.

Becoming bigger.

Becoming more respected.

Becoming more confident.

Becoming smarter.

We are always becoming when we are constantly learning and allowing that learning to be challenged.

Used to be women weren’t allowed into places where men were talking policy, strategy, or other such “smart” things that we would never understand. Now, we’re showing that we not only understand, but we have innovative ideas about how things can be done in all areas from our homes to our communities.

So be smart, stay smart and keep becoming smarter because this new idea that smart is “stupid” is stupid. Let’s not be afraid to share the ideas we have and to push through when we’re being cut off. Let’s do as men do and remove our censors so we can put the ideas forth that may make a difference. Smart is sexy. Yes, we’ll still have to prove ourselves over and over again, but luck for us it simply makes us better.


It’s Free Money, Grab It

It's Free Money, Grab It | Sedruola Maruska

It’s free money and it took me a year to decide to grab it!

Have you ever contributed to a fundraiser when they’ve said your donation will be matched? That means, if you donate twenty dollars, someone else will donate twenty dollars on your behalf making your complete donation forty dollars. Those are the best times to donate because your money grows.

That’s why I don’t understand why of the 50% of us that have access to a 401K plan only 30% of us are using them. Why? But then I look at myself and I’ve had access to a 401K for over a year and I just joined. It took me a year to do something that is a no-brainer.

Reason’s Joining a 401K is a no-brainer

Why do I say its a no-brainer? Let’s consider these:

  • It’s free money! Your employer has said “I’ll help you with your retirement investment, but you have to do your part. Whatever you contribute up to ___% I will match. Your employer wants to give you extra money because you’re making an effort.
  • It’s easy money! You don’t have to think about your 401K contributions and when to sent them. All you need to do is start the process, pick your investments and live your life. It’s all done automatically with input from you once a year.
  • It’s smart! Having a 401K that grows in the background is a smart way to invest in your future automatically. In his book The Automatic Millionaire David Bach talks about how you have to pay yourself first automatically before you pay anyone else. It’s not about having tons of money, it’s about investing it automatically & regularly.
  • Tax Breaks! Investing in a 401K is a way to alleviate your tax burden because the money you invest is tax free. You’re only taxed when you take the money out, and that may mean you’re taxed at a lower rate later when you’re in a lower tax bracket.
    Right now, according to AnnuityDigest, 80% of these tax breaks goes to the top 20% of the population. . . let that sink in. . . a tax break that many can get, but only 7% goes to the bottom 60% of the population. The rich get richer because they continue to invest in themselves and get tax break associated with their investments. . . we can too!

It's Free Money, Grab It | Sedruola Maruska

Reasons we don’t join

With all this free money sitting around, why aren’t 100% of the people eligible for 401K programs, not taking advantage of the free money?

I can’t speak for everyone, but I can speak for myself:

  • It seems like a hassle. As silly as it sounds it seems like a hassle to have to think of one more thing to get done in your day, week or life.
  • Thinking about retirement is scary. We all like to think that we’re going to be young forever. Why do we need to think about retirement when we’ll live forever? As irrational as it seems, we all think it. We believe if we don’t think about it, we won’t get old. Think again.
  • I can’t afford it. Using the word “investing” always elicits a feeling of “oh my gosh, I don’t think I can afford to invest.” We think we don’t have the money to invest now, maybe next month, next week or next year. Right now we have too many bills to catch up on, we can’t send any to an investment.

There are other reason that aren’t mine but that I’ve heard or seen such as:

  • I’d rather give my money away
  • I’m making tons of money, I don’t need to worry about that
  • We’re rich, I don’t need to worry about that
  • I’m self-employed I don’t have access
  • I don’t want to lose money

There are counter arguments for all these scenarios which boil down to, “you can’t afford not to invest in your future while you can.”

Why I invested in my 401K

So I come to the place where I invested in my 401K this week because:

I’m young, but I’m also almost 50! I have two young kids and the free money is on the table but I’m letting it sit there. It’s not very smart or kind not to have some sort of safety net so your kids won’t have to support you in retirement.

The amount I would be investing I’d never see. I calculated that if I invested up to the amount my company will match (I wouldn’t go above that except to use another vehicle) it would amount to such a minimal amount we wouldn’t even feel it’s affects. Do you want to know how little it would be? Let’s take an example: You’re making $62K a year, your investment percentage is 5%, which is the maximum your company will match. That means you’re investing $3,100 a year ($6,200 with your company match). It breaks down to $258 a month. There are ways to adjust so the $258 won’t be missed.

If that seems like more than you can handle, here’s another way to do it. Start as soon as you can with 1% then allow your investments to grow by 1% a year. What happens then is any raises you get will offset the investment amount and you’ll never feel the pinch.

We have a lot of things we’d like to do now and later in life. If we want to live our preferred lifestyle, we’ll need to have enough squirreled away to draw from. I’m not getting any younger (although I still feel 35) and I don’t want to look back with regrets.

It took me ten minutes to start the process of investing in my 401K plan. No hassle at all!

What to consider / Action Steps

It’s time! It’s time for you to get a handle on your financial situation and think about how the decisions you make now will affect your future. The future is formed in this moment.

  1. Find out about your companies 401K plan
  2. Start your investment right away
  3. Invest up to the amount your company will match (invest in other things with extra money)
  4. Be aware of the time it takes to be fully vested. That means, for the first year, if you are no longer working a the company, only the amount you put in will go to you, but if you stay for 5 years, both your investment and the companies investment will go with you if you leave.
  5. If you change jobs you can: 1) Rollover your current investment to your new company; 2) Rollover your investment to a private IRA account; 3) Liquidate your funds but get a hefty tax penalty.

It’s free money, start investing then do more research if you’d like. If you research you can find all kinds of reasons why you should or shouldn’t invest in your 401K. Decide what’s best for you, but in the meantime, start your investments then educate yourself. If you find it’s not for you, roll it over to an IRA and keep moving.

In the end it’s your money and it’s about getting into the habit of paying yourself first automatically. Start paying yourself on a regular basis. It’s important for you and your children.