What does it mean to be authentic? The Merriam -Webster dictionary has several definitions for the word: 1) real, 2) not copied or false, 3) true and accurate. Words like “real” and “true” stick out to me. From personal experience, any time, in my life, that I tried to fit in to a group ended up going terribly wrong!! My whole purpose behind trying to fit in was to look good, but, on each occasion, I ended up looking like a complete idiot, or , at the very least , felt like one. I was miserable. My experiences have led me to conclude that another definition for “authentic” is being happy. The importance of happiness is often underestimated. Authenticity is key . It can be challenging for many of us to be authentic especially if you have been conditioned to ” follow the crowd”. Based on my experiences, I have identified several steps towards becoming authentic that hopefully will prove helpful for you as well.
1) Love yourself.
Embrace both your strengths and “perceived” weaknesses. I say perceived weaknesses because what might be seen as a weakness to you could be encouraging for another. You are not a mistake. You are perfect just as you are. Fall deeply in love with yourself despite popular “worldview”. The world will catch up eventually. You are unique and there will never be another exactly like you. The authentic you is needed in this world to inspire others to set themselves free( authentic=happiness=freedom!!!).
2) Express yourself “fully”.
Whether it be through your clothes or sharing your opinion about different topics, never be afraid to express how you truly feel. Never be afraid to share both your likes and dislikes, regardless, of who agrees with you or not.Engage in activities and hobbies that resonate with you. Stop basing your importance on others approval of your choices. Remember that you are unique. Never shrink back. You neither do yourself or the world any favors by being a coward. I guarantee that someone in this world absolutely ” needs” to hear what you have to say. You have a significant impact on your world each time you make the decision to completely share who you truly are. You never know who is watching.
3) Practice mindfulness.
Be mindful of your thoughts and actions. Mindfulness is especially important if you have spent most of your life conditioned to maintaining “status quo”. Being authentic can be an ongoing process. It takes consistent practice especially in situations where we might be tempted to be intimidated( work, family gatherings, etc). Stay mindful of the times where you might be tempted to give a “rehearsed” answer to a question or when expressing your opinion to someone that you know doesn’t share your viewpoint. Learn to respectfully disagree, but, by all means, stay true to yourself.
In conclusion, being authentic is necessary in order to have a fulfilling life. Make it a daily practice to love yourself, express yourself fully and be mindful when you are tempted not to follow the first two steps.You owe it to yourself be happy and do everything that you can to stay that way. Happiness is an inside job. Becoming authentic is key. Stay real. Until next time….