Hey, guys. Welcome back! Ready to move on to Part 3 of this series and start kicking this new year into high gear? In case you’re just tuning in or simply need a quick refresher, let’s do a systems check. So far, we’ve talked about ditching our hangups from the past (Part 1). Check. We’ve also discussed the need to keep our lives free of clutter and stagnation (Part 2). Check. Alrighty then, it looks like we’re ready to move on.
First things first, I have a question for you. No, this isn’t a test and no, you’re probably not going to get an imaginary scratch and sniff sticker this time around (life isn’t all about spiffy rewards, you know!). Even still, I’d like you to stop and think about something for a minute:
What is “authenticity”? Do you consider yourself to be an “authentic” person? Do others?
Okay, maybe that’s actually three questions. Consider yourself bamboozled. I’m serious though. Are you an authentic person? If you know what authenticity is, you’re halfway there, but in case you need a little push in the right direction, let’s see what my friends Merriam and Webster (as in the dictionary) would say.
Even though these are all lovely (not to mention potentially nap-provoking) definitions of the word “authentic”, our specific purposes only call for definitions 2 & 3. That being said, an authentic person is going to be realer than a can of fake meat (Take that, Spam!). They will also walk through life in a manner that allows others to consistently see their genuine personality, character, etc. An authentic person knows who they are, owns it and would never catch the notion to be anything or anyone other than themselves. You get the point.
In a world that often seems to become more vainglorious and self-centered by the day, it can be difficult to connect with something grounded—something real. Online, people post photos and videos of their lives, but we must constantly ask ourselves if things truly are as they seem.
“Is that Photoshopped?”
“They must have used Facetune.”
“Ugh. They have the best life. I wish I had five Lamborghinis and a cockadoodle!”
“Do they really eat that garba— I mean, surely yummy smoothie bowl for breakfast everyday, or are they just doing it for the gram?”
We have a tendency to share what’s positive, popular or expected—things that will help support the image we’d like others to accept. However, we can be quick to edit or backspace anything we’d prefer to hide from inquiring (and often judgmental) eyes. Our society has created incredible means of redefining and digitally manipulating our “reality”, but unfortunately, the deception often reaches far beyond social media and pixelated screens.
Despite us living in a world where the public sharing of our personal lives has become the norm, many people are sharing less of their true selves than ever before.
Between people pleasing, role playing and creative omission, people often hide the most important facets of their lives out of fear of being misunderstood, disliked or even ridiculed. I must admit that, in some areas, society has made significant progress when it comes to accepting diversity and individuality. However, in other areas, there exists a strong, growing opposition to differences that we should be embracing instead of bashing—especially on the Internet.
People are torn down and ripped to shreds for everything these days. From criticism of people’s body sizes and emotional states to their lifestyles and skin color, some people still don’t feel free to be themselves. And if you ask me, in a world where we have autonomous cars, artificially intelligent voice assistants (I see you, Alexa and Siri) and on-demand television, that is a crying shame.
How many of you respond to inquiries of, “How are you?” with automatic responses of, “Fine” or “Good”, even though your life is actually in complete shambles? Have you ever been surrounded by groups of people, yet felt utterly alone, or worn a smile to keep from crying like a 2-year old who desperately needs a nap? Maybe you’d like to have unicorn hair, wear a holographic bodysuit and sell hugs for a living, but feel pressured to be a cardigan-wearing, mousey brunette who is confined to a musky cubicle. Perhaps you find yourself showing so many different faces to the world that by the time you are all by yourself, you no longer remember which face is the real you. If any of these scenarios sound like your experience, I encourage you to start living your truth, so that this year can be your realest one ever.
The most fundamental step to living an authentic life is to fully connect with the human being who will be at the center of it—you! After all, you have to know who you are before you can start sharing that awesome individual with the world. Understanding your underlying blueprint can help you to choose people, experiences and actions that will better align with your inner being and yield greater life satisfaction. In doing so, your life will feel effortlessly more harmonious. You won’t have to strain, pretend or exert energy hiding things from people anymore. You can simply…be.
Set aside time each day to explore your inner workings. Ignore what society, your friends, your family, or even yourself, wants you to be, so you can better tune in to who you actually are. Identify and try to understand your talents, shortcomings, likes and dislikes. What motivates you? What do you really want out of your existence here on Earth? In what ways would you change your life if you thought no one would judge you for it?
Once you have a sound understanding of who you are: Be yourself. Be yourself. Be yourself. I cannot stress this point enough. Share the things you would typically hide (just remember to still be kind!). Wear what you feel good wearing. Eat what makes you feel the healthiest. Don’t worry about being weird. Don’t concern yourself with doing or liking something (or even someone) that is deemed unpopular.
And when people ask you how you are doing, be honest. Many people needlessly suffer in silence while going through hardships. Allowing yourself to be more open allows you to develop deeper connections with those you are sharing with. You might be surprised to find that your openness inspires others to find the courage to be their authentic selves as well.
Just imagine if we were all more honest with each other about the people we are and the experiences we endure. Instead of spending time, energy and resources trying to appear “perfect”, people could focus more on the truth—that we are all just human beings trying to do the best we can. We could all find more kinship and support to get through life’s difficult times. We might even find that despite our differences, we are all more similar than meets the eye.
Instead of blindly following in the footsteps of other people, trying to live a life that isn’t yours, commit to emulating the person you were born to be. There will always be someone better looking, more successful, more intelligent or more talented than you. We can never live the life of someone else.
But wait, don’t get depressed! This adage goes both ways. There is always going to be something you do or have that is leagues “better” than someone else. You don’t have to copy anyone, fake your way through life or live as a hermit. You can never be everything to everybody; to try would not only be impossible, but extremely arduous. Instead, take the easy route and simply be everything you were meant to be for the one person whose opinion matters most—yourself.
As you learn to acknowledge and accept your strengths and faults for what they are, you will be at peace with the unique individual you have become in your journey thus far. Even if there are areas of your life or personality that you’d like to change, that’s okay. You can still work towards a better version of yourself while loving and freely sharing the person you are… right where you are.
It takes all kinds to make this crazy world the melting pot of variety that it is. Different people have different likes and dislikes. So, even though you may not be everyone’s favorite person and there is bound to be someone who will have something negative to think or say about you no matter what you do, there are people out there who would love and admire you just as you already are. But, the only way for them to find you is to get out there and be yourself.
I so look forward to meeting you—the real you. I’m sure the world does too. ❤