Be You, Do You: How To Be An Authentic Individual

by Cassandra Bustamante

Think about it, why wouldn't you want to be yourself? Intuitively, it seems simple - natural even. Who else are you supposed to be if not yourself? In reality, people stray away from whom they truly are just to fit in and feel accepted by others to satisfy our need for approval.

Because we desire acceptance and hold onto the need to belong, we adjust our behavior and mentally say to ourselves, “Note to self: You’re an idiot; don’t do that again.” But that’s the wrong way to go about living life.

Fronting who you are won’t get you further than being yourself and continuously living at the mercy of the approval of others, and doing so hinders your ability to reach your full potential.

There can only be one you.

Every person is unique. We are the result of our biological temperament mixed with outside influences from our parents’ upbringing, environment, and the experiences we have that shape our perspectives and develop our character. No two individuals have lived the exact same life; it’s a fact. There are nearly seven billion people in the world, each with their own story to tell. You want to be your best, most authentic self, and the best way to do that is to be honest about who you are, both with yourself and those around you.

Don't be a carbon copy.

There are enough carbon copies in the world. Do you ever notice the people that others copy, imitate and emulate? These are the people who stand out and are charismatic; they radiate confidence because they are comfortable with themselves and have the courage to embrace their individuality. People who copy others are too afraid to be themselves, so they’d rather be a second rate version of someone else because they know that they will gain approval.

People pretend to be interested in, share the same beliefs, or act like they know about things they really have no clue about in the name of conformity because they seek acceptance and feeling like they belong. But what ends up happening is that your true character takes a back seat, hiding behind the mask that everyone else sees. The relationships you build are as artificial as the person you claim to be. Soon enough, you become afraid of revealing your true self, and before you know it, you don’t even know who the real you is anymore. The real you never has a chance to break through.

Allow the inner you to develop.

You deserve it - believe that. Respect yourself enough to cultivate the inner you.  Allow your true self to learn, experience and grow. Let your curiosity be your guide. You want to take up a new hobby? Do it. You want to take a semester off from school to travel? Why not?  You want to change your career path?

Go for it - it’s your life. Find the courage to do you, go out and get it. Don’t let anyone stop you. Those who try to stop you are not looking out for your best interest. Once you let go of the pressure to please others, you’ll be much happier and comfortable with yourself.

Like attracts like.

You want people to like you for who you are, not for who you pretend to be. This is especially important when it comes to attracting new friends and lovers. It is exhausting, superficial, and self-defeating to put on a mask every day.  When you are yourself - for better and for worse - you will attract people who like you for your true qualities, both positive and negative.

When the connection is real from the start, you never have to worry about trying to impress anyone with some pompous bullsh*t because they truly admire the real you. When you are genuine and honest, it sets the foundation for stronger, more satisfying friendships and relationships. This, in turn, eliminates room for unsupportive haters in your life that keep you from growing.

Be independent.

You have opinions, right? Don’t be afraid to speak up when you believe in something. If you have a brilliant idea that hasn't been discussed at the office, share it. If you feel you've been wronged, stand up for yourself.  And please, for f*ck’s sake, don’t follow the crowd just because they’re the majority.  The majority is not always right. Don’t be another sheep in a blind herd. Think for yourself, and then decide.

Respect others' right to individuality.

Just as you have a right to embrace yourself for all that you are and believe in so does the next person. Be open minded, slow to judge, tolerant and respectful of other’s differences. Just because someone is different from you does not, by any means, mean they are better or worse than you. Always be humble, never arrogant. No one likes a person who is so clearly full of his or her self. Everyone has strengths and weaknesses, so give the respect to others that you wish to be given to you. In other words, don’t be like the haters who hate on you.

Never be afraid to be yourself.

“You can be the ripest, juiciest peach in the world, and there’s still going to be somebody who hates peaches.” – Dita Von Teese

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