Showing up authentically is a personal and professional imperative, keynote speaker says

By Malinda Larkin
Published: 15 September 2023

Authenticity can seem like an abstract concept, but it is present in every moment of our lives, in big and small decisions we make every day. Authenticity is knowing who you are, what your values and vulnerabilities are, and not being afraid to show them.

So why do we love authentic people, but we find it so hard to be authentic ourselves?

It's that "being unafraid part," no matter what other people think, says Mariana Atencio, a bilingual journalist and motivational storyteller. She gave the keynote talk, "The Power of Authenticity: To Create Meaningful Connections, Foster Trust, and Inspire Others" on July 15 at AVMA Convention 2023 in Denver. The keynote was sponsored by Hill's Pet Nutrition.

Often people do what she calls "covering," which is hiding the aspects of their personality or identity that they don't believe are compatible with success. These can be preconceived notions about things such as mental health issues, personality quirks, or physically appearing different in any way from others.

"We cover what we are ashamed of. The ironic thing about covering is that you cover to belong, when covering erodes that sense of belonging," Atencio said.

Taking that risk and being unafraid of being who you are is worth it, she says, not only personally but also for the profession as a whole.

To see the full version of this story, visit the AVMA News website.