I have been quiet on social media recently. I felt the outside world was infiltrating my inner life a little too much. A few weeks ago, I was writing an essay and, honestly, it was terrible. I can tell when something I am writing is true for me because I can feel it in my heart and body. I am connected to it. There was a density around this piece. Too many words, too many ideas. I couldn’t connect to it properly; it didn’t feel like it was mine. 
I had slipped into ‘explanatory mode’. Rather than writing because I had something to say, I was writing as if I had something to explain. It was beginning to look like a white paper or an academic piece rather than a personal essay. When I am writing and feel that sense of disconnection, I ask myself ‘who am I writing this for?’ In this case, I didn’t like my answer. I was caring too much about how it might be received by an audience who, in reality, are not mine to begin with. Painful as it was, I deleted 3000 words and started again. 
Retaining a strong sense of self is a similar struggle. The question I regularly ask myself is ‘are you living because you have something to say or living because you feel you have something to explain?’ No matter who you are or what you do, there will be people who don’t understand why you do it. You must not fall into the trap of explaining. Explanation takes up a lot of your energy. It makes you question the decisions you intuitively know to be correct for you. It takes your internal resources away from the person you are and the life you want. In my experience, living an authentic life is difficult. There is a natural challenge between your environment and your sense of self. Authenticity is not static but an ongoing negotiation between who you want to be and who the outside world is comfortable with you being. 
To retain integrity of self you must be willing to hit delete at times. To not feel like you need to recommit to the road you have selected. To overcome the fear of changing path if it is not the right one for you. To remove what doesn’t resonate even when you have already invested time and energy. 
As the poet Rupi Kaur wrote on art and writing: 
'It’s about how honest 
You are with yourself 
And you 
Must never trade honesty 
For relatability’ 
It is the same in life. 
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