Allow Your Authentic Self Into Being

Nick asked me to put together a guest blog for this upcoming listening performance on the topic of "Authenticity". So in the spirit of the theme, I’ll start this out by being completely transparent. I do not have a lot of time to write this week, and took the task on simply because I have a hard time saying “no,” but also because the concept of authenticity is more or less always hovering in my periphery if not locked straight into my sights.

At the time that I’m writing this, it is three hours past when I should be asleep … the early hours of the morning on the day it’s due. And although you are reading this on a cleanly typed webpage, the original bits are in illegible handwriting and on a typewriter with terrible spacing issues. Very little editing will occur here (again, to honor time availability and our theme). 

But here goes.

So, what is the authentic self? Is it who you wish you could be? It it how others see you, objectively? Is it how you see yourself?

Perhaps each of these windows of perception can provide some truth, but I believe the real answer is quite simple. The authentic self is less of something you need to find and more a level of being that’s there all along — no matter what — waiting for each of us to recognize, to acquiesce to and realize while relinquishing the clinging chaos of the non-Self.

Your authentic self is undeniably you — who you are outside of the internal chatter that never stops, that nagging rasp in the back of your mind (or, assuming you are like me, that dangles in the forefront on most days) that tells you that you suck. That you should not bother trying. That your ideas do not matter. That who you are does not matter and it is best if you just fell in line with the prescribed order of things and take your tray and place in the cafeteria queue and wait for life’s lunch lady to slop a serving on your plate that will jostle in unison with her excess underarm that you must stomach and give thanks for, however unfulfilling it may be.

That’s all nonsense.

One thing I know for sure is that voice is most definitely not your authentic self, and you would be best suited to stop listening  to it. Notice it, but don’t give it any more attention than it deserves. That voice is nothing but mental static, an artificial intelligence vying for a substance it can only obtain through your handing it over. It lives as a parasite that wants to confuse you into identifying with it, as the voice.

Know that your authentic self is not your thoughts. The real you is the one that has the thoughts, the one who is liable to cower in shame at those lies (should you choose to give them merit), to tuck yourself away in some corner until the noise satiates itself on depression, substances, fast food and the other chemicals we use to douse ourselves … threatening to strike the match of self-immolation.

If you, dear friend, find yourself in this state of confusion and don’t know a way out to where your authentic self can shine through, my advice is this: Strike that match. Let it all go up in flames. Push through the pain by leaning into it instead of turning the other way. Only the temporary tinder will be consumed, and what is left will be you. The noise will fall away in ash. Hear and feel yourself breathe over the crackling. A thought may come, but remember it is just a thought and not who you are. 

Look in the mirror. Lock eyes and say two simple words — the battle cry of the authentic self:

 I AM.

Marcelo Quarantotto is an Argentine-American writer, photographer, filmmaker, and father living in Lynchburg, Virginia. Find more of his work at