Alicia Keys & Authenticity

In her book, "More Myself," Alicia Keys holds endless wisdom for every woman. Alicia writes about her story and weaves in struggles that many women face. Whether it is about body image, finding and using your voice, living authentically, saying no and setting boundaries, or being okay with not being able to do it all and do it all perfectly, Alicia speaks volumes to these areas of a woman’s life.

Alicia talks about being an artist in an industry that often seeks to squeeze each person that walks into the room in a box that will sell to the public and how parts of that industry tried to strip her of her identity. However, growing up in the Hell’s Kitchen neighborhood of New York City, Alicia learned to be tough, resilient, and authentic – never letting those around her take away who she is at her core. In order to create the music she did, she had to be able to stand and say no to the box presented to her and stand firm in maintaining her true self.

She recalls a story where she had to break a contract with one record label due to their unwillingness to sign her for who she is as an artist. She fought to own her own music and stand in who she is rather than succumb to who the industry wanted her to be. Alicia knew from the beginning that if she were to give herself up to an industry that would strip her of her identity, she would not be authentic and her music, the aspect of her life where she expressed herself most, would not be a reflection of who she is.

“The magic in any art is not only in its technique but in its authenticity. Truth in its rawest form is what resonates most powerfully.”

Alicia signed with a label at 15 years old and over the years learned how to use her voice. Through handling contracts, manipulative people, and those telling her what was best for her, she learned how to say no and grow to not feel guilty about it. Authenticity does not come from people pleasing and apologizing for who we are. Alicia knew that not everyone was going to like who she is when she stepped into her authenticity, but the price of being inauthentic was too high to pay. It is too high for anyone to pay.

“Saying no doesn’t make you less of an artist or human being. It makes you a stronger and more purposeful one.”

I believe something we all crave are authentic people, both in our appearance and in our individual stories. It is in removing the layers of falsehood wrapped around us that we get to the truth of our humanity. Where sameness begets sameness, authenticity begets authenticity. This leads to beautiful conversations, relationships, music, art, fashion, powerful movements, books, and much more. Without authenticity, and those who have had the strength to stand in it, we would not have so much of what we love today.

“Without knowing it, I stunted my growth because I was scared to be magnificent and doubtful that I was.”

We all have something unbelievably valuable to contribute to this world, but so many different fears and doubts stop us from stepping into who we are individually. It is easier and less vulnerable to look to the person next to us and see what they are doing rather than look inward to see, know, and act on what we desire and what our strengths are. However, we help no one if we choose to lessen ourselves to fit a mold and make others comfortable.

“Our uniqueness isn’t a scar, but a beauty mark. What makes us different is also what makes us wildly, boldly, and marvelously who we were born to be.”

If Alicia decided to listen to society’s standards for women and make herself less, we would not be learning from her authenticity, boldness, activism, and powerful music she continually brings to the world. Authenticity is the birthplace to embrace and step into all aspects of ourselves and live a magnificent life of freedom.

“But even as I lift my life to the next level, I hope to always recognize my reflection. I want to know who I am and accept every part of that identity. I am frightened and I am fearless. I am weak and a warrior. I am uncertain and I am confident. And by learning to embrace the paradox in all of it, I am more myself.”