Lessons in Authenticity



He pauses the movie right before Dmitri – played by Adrian Brody – runs down the staircase to his desk and realizes that Gustave has stolen the painting (Boy with Apple) from his home.

“Wait, I can’t believe I’ve never noticed that before,” he rewinds the movie. “It’s a Gustav Klimt painting just sitting on the floor of the room.”

He’s seen the movie at least 15 times, but with all Wes Anderson movies, there is always a new methodical detail to be discovered – so he explains to me.

“The Life Aquatic is my favorite Wes Anderson movie. Have you seen it?” he asks.

I cringe because I know where this line of questioning is going, but I respond anyways – “No I haven’t.”


“What about the Royal Tenenbaums, Darjeeling Limited, Mr. Fantastic Fox?”

I’ve been living under a rock – and not a cool graffiti covered rock.



As the movie progresses, I’m sucked into the past – reflecting on memories growing up in a conservative Asian household. My mom always wanted to go to the movies. My dad would grossly disapprove and accuse her of wanting to get lost in the fantasy of film to escape reality. I would side with my dad – “Movies are a waste of time and money.”

As time progresses my relationship with film becomes even more distant. Between studying, being a student-athlete, working out, obsessively planning all my meals, and sleeping – I find myself unable to nurture any creative intake or output – It’s not that I don’t have time, rather I am tuning the machine and 2 hour movies give me anxiety because they are a departure from my daily “schedule”.

I graduate and am set loose into the real world – full of new people to meet and new places to go. Why watch movies when you can go out and live it? – becomes my moto – what I say to help myself sleep at night knowing that I am being ignorant.

We date. Elementary. Sherlock. Movie Nights. We break up. I stop watching all TV shows and movies for a year because all it does is remind me of the time we spent together and that makes me want to vomit because you were a terrible human being and I was a terrible person for not standing up for myself – you broke up with me after I found out you cheated on me.

We are dating. You are Art and Art is You. When you ask me if I’ve seen a movie or heard a song – I feel my heart burst into a million pieces because what I hear you asking me is “Are we compatible?”


We finish the movie and he asks me if I liked it.

“Yes, that was great.” I reply.

“That’s it?” he responds in disbelief.

The truth is I do love it. Yet I feel like in your eyes I am…


(and not the heroine in the film played by Tony Revolori)

I comment on liking the song he’s playing. It’s Version by Fugazi. The sexy, dark undertones are familiar and remind me of the Deftones. I am looking for a dying ember to reconnect us.

He steps into the bathroom to take a shower – but peaks out to respond –

“Here’s what I don’t understand. You do seem to truly LIKE all these things. HOW DO YOU NOT ACTIVELY SEEK IT OUT?”

I am struck that I have a severe character flaw.

I craft all these meanings and inject emotions into situations that don’t belong and are ultimately self-limiting.

  1. I don’t watch movies because that’s what friends or people who are dating do. A movie cannot be watched alone.
  2. I don’t know how to ride a bike – because if I did I couldn’t use it as an icebreaker to judge a guys character. Specifically, the person I’m meant to be with is supposed to volunteer to teach me.
  3. I don’t want to travel abroad before I’m 30 because I have an uber-romanticized view of what traveling the world means. Being in love, hiking up mountains, drinking wine in a Tuscan villas, with that one special person.
  4. I don’t want to travel abroad before I’m 30 because I’ve worked so hard to be slightly ahead of the curve that I’d be devastated to lose momentum.

I’m disgusted by of all of it. Do these sentiments truly reflect who I am or who I am trying to become? Absolutely not and the buck stops here.

So then I get to thinking about – What would it mean to be more authentic? How would I change my actions and beliefs so that who I am and who I want to be are one in the same? Not identical, but evolving forward.

And to be clear. Evolving for me and not for someone else. Changing because it’s unacceptable not take the wheel and do what you love.

I’m being harsh on myself. I’m a pretty damn gutsy broad, and I’m taking a lot of steps in the right direction – completely switched service lines at work, leaving Chicago in 6 weeks. Headed abroad for a year or to San Francisco.

Sometimes we are so blinded by the big steps that we are taking that we forget the small ones add up. Taking care of your health, absorbing culture, or taking 5 mins to ask your Uber driver about his or her story.

All-in-all. Good to be reminded that there’s always room for a little more change.

Always be searching, learning, and pushing forward.


Meina Lisa













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