The first time I saw pre-serum Steve Rogers in the first Captain America movie, my skin prickled.
Something felt off about him.
How had they filmed Steve through that significant physical transformation, taking him from a frail 5’4″ and 95 pounds to a powerfully built super soldier at 6’2″ and 240 pounds?
It felt like neither the same nor different actor.
It wasn’t until years later, watching a behind-the-scenes feature of Steve’s transformation, that it clicked.
(spoiler?) The shot was filmed six times with the same actor, then digitally manipulated on screen to make the character appear smaller, skinnier, and frailer.
Despite the care, time, and technology they put into it, the pre-serum character felt off to me in a visceral sense. My body knew something wasn’t right, even though my mind couldn’t name what it was.
Most people have a gut-level sense to detect inauthenticity.
A lot about the satisfying feeling from the Captain America movie depends on the viewer making a connection to frail Steve. The viewer can’t afford to notice anything off about him. The producers did everything they could to make it as realistic as possible to convince the viewer. This meant a great deal of digital manipulation.
Similarly, even when words are carefully crafted and edited six times, if there’s something off about them, readers can sense it.
When you’re writing and the success of your future or your self-acceptance hinges upon how people receive the words, you may work and re-work your writing to make it good. You want the words to have a certain feel, serve a particular purpose.
But nothing is the same as speaking directly from the heart. Where people can respond with the same openness, curiosity, and depth as you write from.
When people sense something off, their attention naturally goes to figuring out what it is instead of taking in the story’s intent.
So how do you write authentically?
Most of all, talk about what matters. Please write about what matters to you. It’s okay if no one else is talking or thinking about it. It’s not about what you think you should be doing. Or what others want or need you to do to make them feel better.
Tell the story of your heart instead of trying to convince. A story is more potent than empty text, research, or instruction.
When you sense something off, start there. Put words to what you’re feeling, and let this unseen sense organically guide you to authentic truth.
Go with what gives you shivers and tingles. Go with what touches you so deep, you feel tears in the corners of your eyes. Even if it makes you feel a bit like throwing up, this is more real than apathy and numbness.
You will likely not be able to define your destination, or be able to tell where the words will take you. Some of the most powerful outcomes are surprises that come out of being receptive to your impulses.
So feel into your body as you’re writing. Do you feel heavy and distant? Or expansive and energized? Look specifically for an opening in your heart and softening of your tissues.
When you’re stuck, ask someone who feels safe to mirror back to you what they hear as you read your words. What do they feel and sense?
Be in your highest integrity, letting people take what they need and leave the rest. Their reactions aren’t personal.
With technology affording complacency and mimicking a false sense of reality, there’s especially a need now to tap into our humanity, connect with the natural world, and live in authenticity.
Our unused gut instincts are manifesting as physical illness and fatigue. Anxiety and desperation. This is for a reason; there’s a cause.
Authenticity serves the collective, because truth and care for all living beings is required to balance technological advancement.
Authenticity may not be as pretty as a pill to swallow, a one-size-fits-all instant cure, and that’s okay–it’s not meant to be.
Life is messy, and the state of the world is messy. Pain is a sensation that comes along with living.
Start by putting words to what matters and feel the sigh of relief when doing so–this breath will ripple through the collective.
Let the people who need your story past the armor.
I’m a sucker for superheroes. So despite my aversion to violence, I found myself drawn back to the cinematic tale being spun.
We all need these stories that touch our hearts. That make us feel parts of ourselves we may not even be aware of… Until someone puts the words together and names it.