Sometimes, when people ask me what’s unique about me, I choke. I pause and my throat closes over…because I don’t really feel like I have one of those hidden talents. I don’t juggle, I’m not ambidextrous and I can’t even speak another language. So, I muster up as much pride as I can and I say: I’m authentic.
I felt bad about that answer for a long time because it seemed pretty lame. It’s not unique and it’s not a gift…and more and more the word authentic has become so new-agey and self-helpy that it almost elicits a gag-reflex in some people. So if that’s you, and your epiglottis is starting to cave in on itself, maybe this blog’s not for you. But, if you feel as deprived from authenticity and honesty as I do, read on! If you’re in the ”biz” chances are, you smell what I’m cooking right now. Authenticity is about as rare as a real nose in Beverly Hills.
Being an on-air “host”/“presenter”/“personality” means needing to sell myself at various intersections of life (something, I’m admittedly, not very good at). People will ask me questions along these lines all the time: What’s your specialty? What are you really good at? What makes you different? Whether it’s a job interview, a general meeting, an industry event or a publicity interview, I’m tasked with showing the world how unique and special I am. I need to market Me. Kim. I’m not selling a product or service. I AM the product or service. It’s a bit of a weird way to view myself, but it’s the reality of my career choice.
So, instead of lying awake at night imagining all the cool things I could say about myself in any of the aforementioned situations, I relax into the age-old advice my mom used to give me before any nerve-wracking event: just be yourself. Yes, I know, it sounds trite and cliché and EASY…but I have come to know for a fact it’s not. It’s easier to put on a mask and be someone else; someone cooler than me, someone more refined than me, who has more exotic tastes in food, music and other worldly pleasures. But, that never worked for me. I get much more anxiety trying to be someone other than just plain old me.
And on top of not wanting to fake it for other people, I can’t stand the fakery that is so prevalent in the media industry. People puffing their chests, falsely flattering, or snubbing their noses and cavorting in their fabricated elite hipster circles. Working in the entertainment business tends to put me in contact with a staggeringly disproportionate number of these kinds of people. I can smell ‘em from a mile away. The business is crawling with these types. You know them. You’ve met them. You may even have tried to put on your own mask to protect you from this cruel, shallow and judgmental world. Don’t worry; I won’t judge you for that. It’s hard to truly be yourself in this business and not feel incredibly vulnerable.
I’ve been in the TV industry for 15 years. I’ve networked, rubbed shoulders and met with powerful execs and done countless interviews with some of the world’s biggest celebrities (who, by the way, I don’t feel are any different than you or me). The thing that I believe has allowed me to stand out is my ability to remain authentic.
We’re in the middle of an authenticity deficit crisis! People crave it. It’s refreshing to experience a genuine interaction with someone, especially in this over-fabricated, over-marketed, homogenous, and unreal, reality-show world.
It’s not always easy to just be me. This brand of Kim is not for everyone. I’m from a small, coastal city, and was raised with modest means by one hell of a dysfunctional family. I can be brash, argumentative and unfiltered. I’m too this, not enough that. I’m late to pick up trends. I’m a horrible speller. I’ve never heard of that obscure indie band. I don’t know enough about international politics. You might be judging me right now. Of course, I don’t want to be judged. I’m a people pleaser. I want everyone to like me. But, that’s exhausting and life is short. I can’t be all things to all people and I don’t want to exhaust myself trying to please people who can’t get their heads out of their own judgmental Asses. There are much better things for me to put my energy towards.
I thought I’d use my energy right now to create my own online ode to authenticity. These are the things I do naturally and some things I need to remind myself of every so often. Hope it serves as a reminder to you to lay claim to your badass, awesome, one-of-a-kind you.
Stay present. Stay grateful and humble and self-aware. Aim to truly connect to the people in your life whether they are a friend, a family member or someone you just met. Surround yourself with people who cherish you as you are and bring out the very best in you. Remain open. Be honest when it counts. Know and speak your truth. Be as kind to yourself as you are to others. Accept vulnerability. Trust. Come from a place of compassion and generosity. Communicate. Evolve. Be bold and be proud. Be unapologetically you.
Practically speaking, being authentic IS a gift and it is as unique to me as it is to you. So, more and more, I like my answer to that silly question. In a business where everyone is striving so hard to stand out, the easiest way to get noticed is to just be you.