A minor revelation about myself occurred to me the other day which struck me a little by surprise. As it seems, I have a rather hard time with people being inauthentic. I tend to consider them toxic or just not interesting. Most of my close friends, or even simply people I enjoy running into and talking to are all authentic people. I surround myself with the courageous few – the people that decide to live life according to their own terms and standards. Outside of the cookie cutter one might say. To bore you with me figuring out why I lay so much high value on authenticity, I’d rather discuss why its so hard for some people to be authentic.
What does it mean to be authentic?
Googling the term, a loaded quote pops up by Bene Brown:
“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.”— Brené Brown
This quote does not speak to me. If that would be the quote for authentic I wouldn’t know a single person out there who is. That is a high standard to have towards any person. I know no one who fully accepts their imperfections, vulnerability and thinks they deserve to be loved and accepted for who they are. Not a single soul. And if you are that person do call me up and tell me how you did it. I believe that takes great reflection, years of disengagement with your past and engagement with your current self. While most of us are just trying to have a job and get by figuring out what we want for dinner. No, I am going to be very simple here and use the dictionary term
a: worthy of acceptance or belief as conforming to or based on fact
c: true to one’s own personality, spirit, or character
To me, authentic people are just people who know they might be judged for being a certain way, but are comfortable with that. They would rather be true to themselves, their values in life than to imitate or listen to standards. They are true to who they are to the extent that their personality is almost a fact. You don’t have to doubt what they say or how they will react. As certain as 1+1=2, these people will be who they are no matter the situation. And I love that the dictionary adds “Worthy of acceptance or belief”. I often see authentic people be pushed away or judged because its hard for people to accept the fact that you can be yourself and be loved for it.
Why is it hard for people to be authentic or to applaud authentic people?
Humans are social animals. We need each other in order to survive – if we want to or not. We are herd animals or packs. Which ever definition you prefer. Other humans offer us safety and assurance. So belonging to that pact comes with certain rules and values. being shunned from that pack means the lessening of security. Back in the stoneage this meant hunting and gathering on your own. These days, its a little more complex but the feeling is the same. There are many studies about loneliness and how it increases stress in the body
. Because we humans just really don’t deal well with being “out there on our own”. And being authentic often means saying no to the standards society has put in place.
Other reasons might be because the society or environment we live in doesn’t offer us the possibility to find out what makes us authentic. Some people just know they are unhappy, but are not given the tools or the chance to be who they are. Some people are just not exposed to ideas that life could be different. I remember growing up there were never any funny or intelligent women on TV and I felt I was wrong to want to be funny or educated. Thankfully things have changed but also the internet has happened, which allows me to find ideas, people and theories that inspire me to find out how I feel and what I think.
There is also another catch to that. Sometimes we don’t want to know how we feel and what we think because it might not be what we expect or want ourselves to be. It might make you feel disappointed and might change the way you see yourself the world and in relation to others. This can be painful and often is the reason we avoid a lot of truths about ourselves.
How can I become authentic?
Let got of any beliefs of who you think you should be. The disconnect between who you think you should be and who you really are will destroy you and cause you great unhappiness. So what if you are not good at math? If you are bad at writing meeting minutes? If you are clumsy or hate running? What benefit are you bringing to yourself or society by bringing yourself down. Truly, honestly ask yourself: So what?
Listen to you stomach/gut/heart. Whatever it is that tells you – this doesn’t feel right or this makes me uncomfortable. They are the first sign that something isn’t right. You don’t have to tell anyone you have them and you shouldn’t judge them. These feelings you put there to protect yourself – you just may not remember why. And that’s ok. Just trust it is you looking out for yourself.
Remain curious and explore new ideas, different lives and things that fascinate you. Rather than turning to social media, I would focus on blogs, shows and books. They will give you more depth than a photoshoped picture.
(Get a life coach called Nika! 😉
Why should I be authentic?
Because it will make you happier. And life is too short not to be happy. You are the only person who has and will be by your side every moment of your life, you might as well spend it with someone that is true to you.