|Female Firebrands Author Mikaela Kiner once asked me, “Why are you so authentic?”
“What does that even mean?” I responded.
She rephrased, “How did you get so comfortable being you?”
I responded flippantly, “Well, who else would I be?” But deep down, I knew exactly what she meant. I had spent a lot of time pretending not to be myself earlier in life, at least in one important aspect. And I knew that this part of me could get me into trouble, and that lesson came from my parents.
My parents were Holocaust survivors from Germany and Austria. They were older when I was born, and they had experienced unimaginable trauma as young people. As a result, we didn’t tell anyone that we were Jewish, but we didn’t tell anyone that we weren’t either. We just didn’t talk about it. If we celebrated any holiday, it was with the living room curtains securely closed. And if someone knocked at our door, we would go silent.
I remember in seventh grade, my global studies teacher said, “If there were a Jew in this class, I would know.” I wondered how exactly he would know, and since I was the only one in the school, I concluded that I was really convincing.
As I got older, I embarked on a spiritual journey exploring Eastern religions, mysticism, and the occult, seeking to fill the hole inside of me. But I eventually realized I couldn’t fill it until I embraced myself. So, I made a choice to step up and own my truth. I am an extremely direct person who will defend animals and old people at all costs, who asks uncomfortable questions, and who tries to be more helpful than not. Maybe it’s because I’m Jewish, or maybe it isn’t. As I matured, that piece stopped mattering.
I know that I am privileged to be able to make this choice, a choice my parents couldn’t make. And I understand that being as authentic as I am means I’m not for everyone. I get it, and for that, I am unapologetic.
My role in the world is to help leaders find their courage. And a grand theme today in leadership is the mandate for leaders to be more authentic. But it isn’t easy. So, I pose these questions to you:
Share your thoughts and insights. I’d love to hear from you.
Want to write your Private Memoir™? Me too! Let’s talk about it.
Have feedback you’re dying to give me? I’m all ears and look forward to hearing from you.