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Articles

A Word on Authenticity

Kamau Hosten

I chuckled while reading an old interview in which Lionel Messi chronicled his 17+years of immeasurable work to become an ‘overnight success’. Arguably the world’s greatest footballer, he had a humorous perspective to this concept of rapid success. It’s even more evident in this social media age. There’s a prevalence of ‘successful’ imagery: you’ve got to show you’ve achieved more than have. To that, the idea of success of about gain, rather than a more abstract sense of impact. The former is hollow, yet celebrated.

As I began this journey into a brand, I’ve struggled with the idea of posting imagery that indicates how smooth the journey is. Well-meaning advice leans towards the “fake it ‘til you make it” mantra. This is what I have because of what I’ve done; I’m accomplished. Supporters of this school of thought say that, to engage with potential clients and investors, you need to look the part. It suggests the brand they’re buying into is of some value and repute. That, I can agree with. But it’s not the entirety of the journey. I don’t think masking failure, or viewing it as such, are a detriment to a brand. Rather, it’s just a more genuine component of said venture.

I know I’m not alone when I say social media has forced us to place disproportionate value on the peaks of our respective journeys. It’s disingenuous. There’s maybe an inherent sense that followers, and potential clients, appreciate the flash and trappings of doing well. Face value can be such BS though. Cars and locations can be rented, followers can be purchased. I’m guilty of it. The rationale leans towards ‘well, this is for the end game.’ That doesn’t mean I felt any less cheesy for flexin’. However, the picture-perfect imagery of “Influencers” and emerging brands lack a purity about them when they don’t balance the glitz with the grit. Both are equal parts in any journey.

I’m certainly a proponent of showcasing successes, but in order to capture a genuine sense of growth, it’s only right to display the struggles on the path towards it. That sort of authenticity is endearing to me and, I hope, others who appreciate the true path to growth.