Fantasy vs. Authenticity

Tell me about yourself.

I hate that sentence. But here’s what I’d usually do: I’m going to tell you five personal facts, followed by a bunch of counteractive statements in fear of you herding my likes and dislikes into a pen. My fear of being pigeonholed already tells you a lot about my insecurities.

Can I just show you my Instagram account? It’s everything I want someone to know about me: a person with a fascination with art by female illustrators, a weakness for Asian food and disorganized tablescapes, a tendency to overshare about my loved ones and friends and a gravitation towards the color of sunsets and sunrises. It’s a reflection of my fantasy self and authentic self.

Who is my fantasy self, you ask?

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Let’s define the fantasy self, first. It’s who you want to be. It could be Astrid from Crazy Rich Asians or Samantha from Sex and the City. It could be someone who wears high heels for all occasions or a self-proclaimed life coach with tons of credibility. Either way, there’s something a little false about what you put forward.

My fantasy self isn’t tooooo far from my authentic self. She’s a writer and a creative. She blends visuals and words to convey something meaningful. She’s a sometimes-Catholic with an unconventional, bohemian outlook on life. A smart, funny and loveable person whose life at home revolves around her plant babies and photographing homemade brunches. She reads, travels often, and has funny, sarcastic exchanges with bae on social media.  What’s the fake part, you ask? Keep reading…

What is my authentic self like?

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You’re authentic self is simple. It’s who are when no one is around.

My authentic self is a woman who travels when she can, but in the meantime, she’s out eating ramen or staying at home because she’s not as sociable in her 30s as she was in her 20s. She travels deep into her mind, revisiting memories that conjure feelings of happiness and occasionally stumble into memories of experiences that she never had the chance to digest and heal when she was living through it at the time. She finds it difficult to focus on a task like laundry, vacuuming or responding to texts about mundane things like how many eggs to purchase tomorrow or explain why she’s been tinkering around all day. She entertains herself by taking photos of meals she cooks, reading self-growth books, watching horror films and going to crossfit primarily to hang out with the people there. Although her favorite color is sunset, she wears black most days because it makes her look slimmer and she’s so lazy to do laundry, it’s easier to throw everything into the same washload. She lives to please her family, which can be a good and bad thing.

You must think I’m a fake, lazy, depressed hag right? You’re half right.

{Cue self-affirmation-esque inspirational music} I actually do experience lots of joy. I feel joy when I’m able to save more than $300 from each paycheck, get invited to get-togethers, give someone a gift or a hug and during the few times I actually make Sunday mass. I love art and I spend hours searching for female illustrators that depict real bodied, brown women like me. I love my job and what I do for work, it’s a place where I feel powerful and confident in my ability to produce good things and strengthen my skills. I love when I make my family happy with something I did or cooked on my own. I try my best to be the good child. I try to surround myself with compassionate individuals who treat people like people.

I value my selective choices in friends and I know when to be level-headed just as much as I know when I can allow myself to be an emotional mess.

The reality is…it’s a struggle to live between both worlds. So I try to blur the line as much as I can and allow my authenticity to take over as much as possible, no matter how ugly she looks.

Balancing fantasy and authenticity

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said “bae” lol

In dating, I realized that my fantasy self only took my relationships so far. I was quick to put F self on and hooked quite a few good-looking ones that would only boost F self’s ego. I tried my best to be skinnier and outgoing, wear nice clothes and make as many surface level friends As I could…all to trap a God-fearing Latin man-unicorn with money. It wasn’t until I started dating a guy that didn’t care about social media, saw through my F self, slept through my snoring and reminded me how beautiful I was bare-faced, wearing a stained Saipan t-shirt, stuffing Takis and hot Cheetos into my mouth. He didn’t add value to my social clout, impress others with his multiple jobs or have a manly truck to overcompensate for anything. He’s real, deep and one-dimensional all at the same time, completely devoid of a fantasy self. His honesty and realness is the best thing to come home to.

My single friends often talk about losing weight before they find Mr. Right. I tell them that first of all, you don’t need a man to feel complete (something they already know, but I repeat anyway). Second, you’re better off finding Mr. Right in your current state, because you’re not stressing you’re A self out trying to live up to your F self. You deserve to be loved at your skinniest AND fattest. I can’t even tell you the freedom I felt the day my A self started to become beautiful to ME and started to let a little A bleed into the F.

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@hawaiibusinessmagazine

In my career, surprisingly, I was quite the opposite for years. I was too focused on proving I could do something that I never really conjured up the F self often enough. I was known in the office as the girl who wears black and doesn’t even bother to wear makeup most days. I believed that my brain was enough for the job and then get upset when board members and sales reps forget my name. I just wasn’t memorable and I chalked it up to not being good enough to be noticed. I still struggle with this to be honest. Today I try my best to put on a light, natural face-full of makeup, do my hair a little nicer and incorporate some of my artistic and colorful personality into what I do at work. Now people are slowly remembering my name and what I do. I’m still invisible but not as invisible as I used to be. This month, I magically made it onto the cover of a business magazine, so I suppose it’s progress.

Change the fantasy, develop your authenticity

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@islandbohemian

One thing is for sure. The fantasy will always change. One day, I’ll tire of being the “islandbohemian” and maybe switch to the “wordygypsy” or the “artsychamorrita.” You never know what I’ll be into next. However, my authenticity will never change as dynamically as my fantasy. I’ll always be myself whether I like it or not. I may improve upon a few things like being healthier (not necessarily skinnier) or being more responsible with money, but I will never, ever give up my food-stained Saipan shirts, snoring (it’s like, not that easy to control, quite honestly) or quality time spent with family.

I felt compelled to write this because I see a lot of women my age and younger fighting a battle between their fantasy and authentic selves. It’s totally okay to have both, but don’t ever be ashamed of your A self, she’s in there and the longer you repress her, the more she forgets what truly makes her happy and next thing you know, she’s a full-blown seeker of validation. Maintain that balance, know yourself and what brings you so much joy that you can’t help but smile. Be authentically you.

(Note: I am not a certified life coach nor do I have a background in psychology. I share my own thoughts based on my experiences in hopes that I have the pleasure of meeting more authentic beings out there.)

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