I sat down today to start this post all about authenticity- easy right? We preach it every day; ‘be your authentic self’, ‘keep it real’, ‘be true to yourself’. I should be able to wrap this topic up with a couple quick thoughts, maybe add in a meme for interest, and move on with my day! Well, after starting and restarting a couple dozen times, I ended up doing a Google search on related blogs in an attempt to find inspiration to write my own. It’s wild to think that I felt the need to research authenticity and gather ideas before I felt comfortable writing my own post about authenticity. Doesn’t this go against the whole ‘do what feels right/be true to yourself’ movement!?! It’s silly, I know. Why is it so hard to write about being yourself? And if it’s this hard to write about it, how are we all supposed to be such masters at it?
We live in a time where we’re constantly being told what to do, what to wear, and how to act. Every platform and form of media is telling us who we should strive to be. We compare our expectations of our own reality to our perceptions of other people’s realities. Everyone is in a perpetual state of judgement, of ourselves just as much as others! This made me question what it means to be authentic in this century. Here is what I came up with:
Authenticity isn’t just a personality trait, it’s an entire state of being. It means you don’t look to others for opinions, but when you do, you welcome them. You don’t feed off another person’s personality. At least, that’s how I look at it. Would I say I’m authentic? Absolutely. I have values and morals that I don’t compromise for anyone, not even for my career. I speak what I feel about my surroundings instead of judging them (yes, there is a difference).
I did some Facebook research in order to see how my friends and family define ‘authenticity’. They described it as being honest, having integrity, and following your instincts and beliefs. They also described it as being selfless and putting others before themselves. They described it as staying self-aware when everyone around you is conforming to social norms. Someone said it was putting aside all her anxieties about being authentic and genuine. She also expressed the feeling of having to speak up and defend negative comments about women. And if she doesn’t, she is muting her experience as a woman and discrediting her, therefore, making her inauthentic. My favourite response was, “The space surrounding inauthenticity. Once you remove the social pressures that influence a person to adopt false values you are left with authenticity. It is the absence of bad faith”. I think this sums it up perfectly. It’s like thinking outside the box, except backwards. The box is authenticity, the outside of the box is conformity. The conformed are always judging you, like a box in the middle of a big empty space.
Did you notice that I asked for other opinions instead of just giving you my own? This is part of my authenticity. I encourage other people’s opinions and values, and I use them to create a structured and formal response. My authenticity is not only having my own opinions and values, but also being comfortable and confident enough with my own thoughts that I can ask for other’s opinions and welcome them with an open-mind.
What does it mean to you to be authentic? The more we ask ourselves that question, the easier being authentic and genuine will be.
To be authentic, we must cultivate the courage to be imperfect – and vulnerable. We have to believe that we are fundamentally worthy of love and acceptance, just as we are. I’ve learned that there is no better way to invite more grace, gratitude and joy into our lives than by mindfully practicing authenticity – Brene Brown
Kati McIntyre – Aurora Group Care