Many people talk about ‘being authentic’, but what does this mean? And how must one ‘be authentic’? A quick search on the internet provides a definition for ‘authentic’ which is: the undisputed origin of something and not a copy. When something or someone is authentic, it is genuine and pure.
To be authentic is a topic that all of us encounter everyday of our lives. How can we make decisions that are aligned with who we truly are? Do we even understand ourselves enough to make such decisions? Who can say for themselves that they know who they are? Is this fixed? Or should we address the authentic self as a developing character that is influenced by life?
Somehow we feel whenever we do something that is not aligned with who we are. That is fascinating to be honest. It can be difficult to express our truest self, it can be difficult to understand who we really are. Yet, deep inside us we know when our behaviour doesn’t match our authentic-self. When we say something or do something that we regret instantly. Deep inside you already know who you are. Even if you are not able to put it into words yet.
‘Authenticity can’t be replicated or faked. You’re either real or you’re not.’
– Bibi Bourelly
To be able to be authentic you have to know who you are and acting according to that self-identity. Well that doesn’t sound that hard does it? If you are a person that finds the value ‘equality’ important, to be authentic you just need to treat everyone and everything equal. Do that and you’ll be authentic! That is not really it. It is a lot more complex than that. A good illustration of how complex it can be to know yourself is noticeable when we consider how many people don’t know what they want and/or feel lost.
I think that the authentic self is an abstract construct, it is not set in stone. However, I do believe that it functions as a blueprint which we are able to translate into this world through our own consciousness. Our authentic self is real and is pure and the way we express it can change over time. This would mean that at our core we never change, but how we adapt to life and how we communicate who we are to the material world, does.
This means that whenever you look back at yourself a year ago and you see that you were different, it does not mean that you have lost yourself. Maybe your surroundings have changed in such a way that you have evolved into a ‘new’ version of yourself. Optimistically, you’ve developed yourself, sharpened that mineral into a more elegant gemstone. This means that you’ve changed the way you translate who you are into the world. You are still authentic, but different. If done right, you might be yourself even more now than you were ever before.
To be yourself is a journey, a process, and it is not a destination. Life is in constant motion and it requires you to move with it.
‘Authenticity is the daily practice of letting go who we think we’re supposed to be and embracing who we are‘.
– Brené Brown
Why is it important to be yourself? To be authentic? It sets you free. You start living less by the expectations of others and just be who you truly are. You feel less ‘trapped’ by what you are ‘supposed’ to do. It gives you more autonomy over your life. Being authentic is being real. Your relationships and life in general start to feel real. Real connections, real experiences. You are able to express who you are and the people that you make connections with are genuine, for they accept your truest self. Being authentic gives you a higher self-esteem, and better quality of life.
‘Authenticity is a collection of choices that we have to make every day. It’s about the choice to show up and be real. The choice to be honest. The choice to let our true selves be seen’.
– Brené Brown
- Get to know yourself. What do you like and dislike? What is important to you? What do you want to achieve? What difference does it all make to you? What are your values and beliefs? Who are you?
- Ask less for permission and take more action. This is one I personally like a lot. Instead of waiting on approval from someone to take action, we can also just do it. Instead of waiting and contemplating about it, we can get up and start walking towards the goal we want to obtain.
- Don’t apologize for being yourself. The words we speak have more power than we usually realize. This is an important subject that I’ll speak more about in a different blog. However, it is important to mention it here as well. Every time you say ‘I’m sorry’, or ‘sorry’ for being yourself, you start thinking less of yourself. You downgrade yourself. Especially when you did nothing wrong.
- Be honest and speak your truth. Your voice needs to be heard. You have a uniqueness to you, a creativeness that the world needs to hear. Speak up and speak loud because your insights and thoughts are needed by the rest of us.