Life is filled with contradictions and quandaries. Two of the primary values in contemporary culture are compromise and authenticity, but these two values sometimes come into conflict with one another. For many decades, compromise was the more highly valued in the culture. In the business world, compromise is key to making sales and getting things done. In relationships, compromise has a central role in creating successful, collaborative friendships, marriages, and partnerships.
Our culture has shifted toward an emphasis on individuality and authenticity. Our emphasis on the value of compromise and community has been partially eroded and replaced by an emphasis on individual success and personal self-actualization. This shift in emphasis from compromise to uncompromising self-expression seems to be especially pronounced within the younger generations.
Both compromise and living authentically are crucial to a healthy and balanced life, but these values sometimes come into conflict. Compromise has traditionally been disproportionately required of women, particularly in the realm of relationships. As we become older, the price of compromise sometimes becomes too great. Cultivating and expressing our authentic self becomes a higher priority, yet compromise is still a necessary part of life and an important value.
So how do we balance these values in our present lives? The demands for compromise come from many sources: our families, our living situations and our health to name just a few. It can be valuable to think about the relationship between authenticity and compromise in our day-to-day lives and how we might balance these forces in the future as we age:
- What have your own struggles been around compromise and authenticity?
- Are there compromises you are truly happy you made? Are there compromises you regret?
- How authentic do you feel you have been in the past and how authentic do you feel you are in your present life?
- In your experience, have there been times when compromise and authenticity have not felt in conflict?
In what ways are you becoming more authentic in your life today?