Be You. Be authentic. A phrase that we hear quite often and one that gets thrown around during every motivational speech.
But do we know what that really means?
We as a society strive for authenticity even if we don’t know what that is.
We see and hear other people talk about authenticity so we try to match their level of “authenticity” and before we know it we’ve made it a competition.
That is the paradox of “Be you” in our modern day world. Instead of trying to look deep within ourselves, examine our own life and then staying true to ourselves, we’ve somehow made authenticity a game.
We’ve turned self-development and inner growth into a public spectacle for the sake of an applause.
We have deeply misunderstood the meaning of “being you.” Being yourself does not require you to stand out. Nor does it need you to look different. When you try to be different for the sake of standing out, you end up disconnecting from yourself. And as a result you are steering away from the real you.
In our defense, being authentic has been harder than ever.
The pressure to portray a filtered and picture perfect life of highlight reels is at an all time high. Especially in our world of social media, where an entire generation derives their self-worth from a single double-tap. It’s sad but true. While I believe social media isn’t the culprit here, it sure does expose our flawed sense of self-worth.
Unfortunately we as a society have also had the repertoire for wearing a mask to conceal our true selves. This is not a new concept but has been an age old practice. However, there seems to be a confusion and identity crisis as it pertains to who we truly are as individuals. Therefore it is imperative we are given a chance to truly understand how to express ourselves and be who we truly are. Not defined by societies many labels.
With authenticity being the new trend, it is important to shed light on what that really entails. And then enlighten ourselves on how to be (more) ourselves in today’s modern world of masks and identity crisis.
Being authentic is not something you do, it’s who you are.
Being authentic simply means, staying true to yourself, staying in your OWN lane and NOT comparing your journey to someone else’s.
When we make authenticity a trend or a fad, self-development becomes meaningless and is no longer the goal. Your goal is now to “BE DIFFERENT” which unfortunately is anything but YOU and thereby defeats the purpose.
Being authentic is not fun, it is uncomfortable because it demands you to look really deep within. Authenticity is all about staying true to yourself, your beliefs and your core values. It is no longer about your image. It is the courage to voice your opinions and genuine feelings without having to wear a mask.
In our increasingly demanding life it is not easy to truthfully express ourselves. Being authentic today is challenging but we owe it to ourselves to be our most authentic selves. Why? Because no one can do you better than you.
Brene Brown says it best: “Because true belonging only happens when we present our authentic, imperfect selves to the world; our sense of belonging can never be greater than our level of self-acceptance.”
Here are a few ways I have found to be more authentic and be you:
- Self-awareness: When everyone around you is desperately trying to tell you who you ought to be, you must be adamant about increasing your self-awareness. Authenticity is an excellent goal but it is not passive, it also requires an action from our part. It requires courage and clarity. It requires us to find out who we are and then embrace our uniqueness and our flaws instead of pretending to not have any. We need to find out who we want to be, who we don’t want to be and then ensure our actions complement the life we want to live.
- Vulnerability: Choose to embrace vulnerability even if it is scary. Find safe people and open up to them. Invite feedback into your life because we don’t know it all and a second opinion from a trusted source won’t hurt you. We are so afraid of our flaws and emotions and constantly have an emotional reaction to everything. Don’t take yourself so seriously. Understand that you have flaws, you have doubts. You are constantly learning more about yourself and making adjustments and changes. Authenticity doesn’t require perfection but it does require us to accept ourselves first. When you can laugh at your own flaws, you won’t be worrying about anyone else laughing about them.
- Recognize your masks: We all wear masks from time to time. Sometimes wearing masks is how you adapt to uninviting or new environments until you feel safe enough to remove the mask and be yourself. Understand that this is okay and you’re not the only one. Having said that, you don’t always have to wear masks. Faking it on social media to ensure your perceived image is still intact is simply unnecessary. Share your victories and your fails because that instantly makes you relatable and gives your audience a chance to connect with the real you. Be a real life influencer and let social media truly reflect that.
- Be present: Last but not least, be present. I am learning that a lot lately. We live in an age of distractions, it’s real. Your inability to be present for your loved ones is as inauthentic as hiding your true feelings. Instead of turning every moment into an instagram-worthy affair, put your phone down and let it be. Not everything needs to be shared. Enjoy the real life moments with your real life people. Cherish the memories in your heart and live in the moment.
Authenticity does not equal exclusivity.
You can be yourself and still do so in community. It is important to remember we are all in a process and no one has it altogether at any given point in time. You are not the only one going through this so inviting people into your process makes it all the more real and beneficial.