The Parakeet Under My Window (A Lesson on Authenticity)

A green parakeet like the one under my window
Nature is speaking, but are we listening?

Every morning I wake up to the sound of a parakeet serenading the world from a small tree under my window. I can count on that parakeet being there like I can count on there being 24 hours in a day. The parakeet begins her routine around sunrise and sings throughout the morning and again later in the day. Even if I miss the opening act, I can always catch some part of the performance. I don’t know why that bird is always singing. And, quite frankly, I don’t care. I’m just glad she chooses to perch at a close enough distance where I can listen.

What’s most amazing about that parakeet isn’t her beautiful singing. It’s the fact that she sings regardless of who likes it or doesn’t (so what if my sleep is disturbed?). Every morning she fulfills her purpose. She has her mind made up and has no need to consult anyone: “I’m a parakeet and singing is what I do.”

Why are most of us so unlike that parakeet? If I had a dollar for every minute I spent worrying about what other people might think, I’d be a rich man. I’m not saying we should be more selfish. Most of the time we don’t doubt what we are doing is right. Or at least not wrong. But a people-pleasing spirit won’t let the mind be at ease. It doesn’t care what the right course of action is, its only goal is to avoid the discomfort of not being approved by others.

There’s a trade-off between authenticity and fitting in. The more we are our true selves, the less acceptance we receive from other people. Imagine if you made no effort to accommodate other people’s feelings the rest of your life. You would certainly incur the unfavorable opinions of many. The problem is most of us err on the totally opposite side—we accommodate others far more than we should. Call it people-pleasing—but the truth is it has more to do with anxiety-avoiding than anything else. People-pleasing is the antithesis of authenticity. It promises emotional safety but always leaves the user unsatisfied.

Authenticity is the daily practice of letting go of who we think we’re supposed to be and embracing who we are. . . If you trade in your authenticity for safety, you may experience the following: anxiety, depression, eating disorders, addiction, rage, blame, resentment, and inexplicable grief.

Brene Brown, Author of The Gifts of Imperfection

People-pleasing can’t fulfill the fundamental need for belonging that we all have. This is because belonging can only be experienced when the true self is expressed. We simply can’t feel a deep connection with people who don’t know who we really are. As a result, people-pleasing robs us of a positive good in authenticity and offers nothing to compensate.

Fitting in is about assessing a situation and becoming who you need to be accepted. Belonging, on the other hand, doesn’t require us to change who we are; it require us to be who we are. . . Because true belonging only happens when we present our authentic, imperfect selves to the world, our sense of belonging can never be greater than our level of self-acceptance.

Brene Brown, Author of The Gifts of Imperfection

The parakeet under my window is a beautiful metaphor for authenticity. The next time you hear the sound of the songbird, let it remind you of the freedom that is available to those who have the courage to be who they were created to be.

I want to sing like the birds sing, not worry about who hears or what they think.



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