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By Zondra Hughes

Thanks to social media, when we make new connections, we're working blindly with only our Mother Wit or sixth sense to guide us.

We may never know how to decipher a friend from a frenemy, before it's too late; or, if that cute guy is really into us, or if he's really into our dividends and professional connections.

Mind you, we are willing participants in our own mass deception.

In this age of Instagram, Facebook, TikTok and Twitter, no one can be trusted at face-value. Think about it: Is your potential soul mate made for you, or is he just a guy who's memorized your profile? Is your romantic "meet-cute" legit, or has it been staged? Did you bump into your ex because the gods willed for you to get closure, or did he track you down via your Geotag Tweets, (as he aimed for a bump-and-grind reunion)?

Does good old-fashioned serendipity even exist anymore? Probably not, that’s why it’s crucial to be who you really are when connecting with others.

We can't control the level of authenticity others may have when dealing with us, but I FIRMLY BELIEVE THAT WE CAN MEASURE OUR INNER AUTHENTICITY.

One day, the time will come when who you think you are and who you truly are will face-off.

You will make a decision that will either cement your core values and beliefs, or will turn everything you thought you knew about yourself on its head.

That moment of truth is your inner authenticity test, and I took my test years ago. By divine or design, I found myself dating someone for all the wrong reasons, and my inner authenticity was fading fast. I met Mr. Perfect (aka Mr. Long Distance Relationship) through a mutual friend. He was famous, wealthy, good looking and single. He liked me, and I had the gifts and frequent-flier mileage points to prove it.

In fact, those who knew us would have sworn that he swept me off my feet. But he did not, not by a mile. Mr. Long-Distance-Relationship wasn't attractive to me.

His fame didn't open any door that my own press pass hadn't opened for me years before. He slaved for his money, and talked endlessly about his ritual of earning it. On some nights, I struggled not to yawn as he spoke. I wasn't happy with him and I was tired of faking it.

For me, it's the little things that matter most: I'm drawn to the humanitarian. (If you see a

homeless person, will you help him out, or will you push him aside?) I'm drawn to the chivalrous man. (Will you open my car door, or will you take your seat and then pop the locks for me?) I'm drawn to the conversationalist. (Will you share your dreams with me? Or, must I compete with your iPhone, even at the dinner table?)I'm drawn to the responsible man. (Is your word your bond? Or are you a constant disappointment to others?)

Dating Mr. Long Distance Relationship because everyone thought I should was a huge mistake. The truth is, the beautiful, famous, rich, bachelor was also a selfish, chauvinistic, career-driven egomaniac who wasn't worth my time.

I had to go. The day that I ended our relationship, who I thought I was and who I truly am had become one and the same--authentic. Becoming your authentic self may be a lonely journey, but it is a rewarding one.



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