Authentic

I’ve been thinking about so much lately, getting stuck in my own head. I hear myself giving my son rules of things we should do, things we shouldn’t do… I see myself as an adult constantly working on fitting in with societal expectations– with following the rules. This is all good, mind you. For me, though, there’s a big component of my actions and behavior that I qualify as being authentic. It’s being true to myself. It’s caring less about what others think I *should* be doing, and instead doing what feels authentically me. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not trying to be argumentative about anything, or trying to break any rules. I’m just recognizing the value I place on authenticity of self. Of being the person to wear the outfit that feels good. Of being the person that speaks up with often unpopular opinions. Of being the person who questions things.

My dad bought me this stamp when I was… 5? 6? Not sure. Having a less common first name means you rarely find personalized things! Imagine my delight in having my own personalized stamp. It’s not wonder I’ve kept it through all these years. It has a whimsy to it, right? I’ve used it to sign greeting cards and label items, both personal and professional, because it feels authentically me.

I tend to encourage those around me to amplify their own personal qualities, to be the best versions of themselves. Throughout years of college design teaching, I encouraged my students to be the best versions of themselves in their design endeavors and beyond. I cringed when they presented their work saying “Shana told me to ____”. Do it because it feels like you! You can say “Shana and I discussed some ideas, and I decided to _____”. See the difference in those statements? The former is about doing what you *think* someone wants you to do, and the latter is about conferring and making your own choice.

Student project, 2011. One of my favorite parts about this is the placement of the horn and strobe just above the project.

This image is a part of a final project a student created in one of my design studios in 2011. I co-authored and co-taught an architecture design studio relating to sensory perception within design. I had encouraged this student to work on a drawing throughout the semester, living with it on the wall in his room. I remember cringing when he presented this: “Shana told me to put a paper on the wall and create a drawing all semester long.” Really? Did you just say that?? And then he quickly followed up with saying “And I wasn’t sure why, but I gave it a try, and here’s what I have.” Now, 9 years later, I’m struggling to remember what this collage was about (whoops) but I remember a change in my own emotions, a growing confidence in knowing that he took the advice to just create without expectation of the final outcome, without knowing what it should look like in the end. He used this as a living learning document, and added to his toolbox of design and problem-solving techniques.

Wow this isn’t at all where I thought this post would go, and that’s totally fine! Let’s get back to what I hoped to leave you with.

I resurrected a blog and I’m developing a website and newsletter that I hope truly reflect who I am. I don’t anticipate having glossy polished content or posts with systematic regularity. I do anticipate being authentically me: writing when I feel like writing, sharing a funny story or observation, or talking about my design process. I think this is ok, because it feels like me, and I’m alright.

3 thoughts on “Authentic

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