During my journey to understand and learn how to be an authentic gifted adult, I found the etymologies of the words “integrity” and “authenticity” to be highly instructive in themselves:
- Authenticity: From Greek authentikos “original, genuine, principal,” from authentes “one acting on one’s own authority,” from autos “self” + hentes “doer, being.”
- Integrity: From Latin integer “intact, whole, complete,” literally “untouched,” from in- “not” + tangere “to touch.”
Integrity and authenticity, therefore, literally mean being and expressing one’s untouched, original and genuine self on one’s own authority.
Through my own process, I have come to experience integrity and authenticity as a mindset of self security and freedom of choice that arises from one’s inherent source of self worth, authority and direction:
- Integrity: “I am secure in my own authority of being and becoming who I am.”
- Authenticity: “I am free to choose my own experience and expression of who I am.”
Therefore, I see integrity as an internal experience, and authenticity as the external expression — two halves of the same whole of being. Authenticity is how we choose to express our experience of integrity within.
This applies to everyone.
- How does one settle on a single state or way of being when one has no one fixed state of being and is different in any given moment? Gifted people experience life as Heraclitus of Ephesus so befittingly expressed, “You could not step twice into the same river.”
- How does one feel safe or validated enough to freely express one’s multitudinous self—selves!—in a world where immutable and simplistic are social and cultural norms? As a neurosocial minority, gifted people suffer from a dearth of affirming social modelling.
I think most gifted people know that the answer is to embrace and embody one’s naturally intense, complex, sensitive and fluidly n-dimensional self.
Unfortunately, most gifted people are unconsciously limited and consciously bound by social and cultural constraints.
It doesn’t help that there are few resources or services that provide for and support the gifted search for—much less experience and expression of—integrity and authenticity.
When one grows up confined in a psychological coffin not of one’s making or choosing, liberation is neither simple, easy nor quick.
More than most, I feel, gifted people need a lot of time, safety and support towards exploring and experimenting—playing!—with what integrity and authenticity means, feels and looks like for themselves. However, they need not go it alone.
Intrepid Integrity provides coaching and community for the gifted maverick seeking to learn and practice integrity and authenticity as a way of life.