Looking around the heart of the city, it’s easy to see that being “authentic” is something worth bragging about. Be it food, drink or clothing, vendors know that people want the original — the real deal.
There’s something about that word “authentic” that evokes a homely, warming feeling, but I think, too, that there’s a sense of real, wholesome value in it. The word was dancing around in my head and led to me explore its meaning in terms of people: How authentic are we? Are we afraid of being authentic?
Why are we not boasting our original individuality, too? Trawling through shops, we often seek out the originals and the authenticity that they promote. We know it’s likely to be the best version.
Sometimes, we just don’t want to settle for the cheap, knock-off versions of things, but when it comes to our identities, are we choosing to settle?
Growing up, consistent advice given was to be yourself. Dr. Seuss put it perfectly when he wrote, "Today you are you, that is truer than true. There is no one alive that is youer than you."
I wanted to be just about anyone else I could possibly be, but the idea of being happy to simply be me always resonated as a wonderful way of living. It remained out of my grasp for years as I grew to be more and more lost. While being sound advice, I think actually being yourself is, in practice, a lot more challenging.
We can put on a multitude of masks, shrouding our authentic selves in layers of pretense, falseness and people pleasing. It’s a battle of either hiding from the world or putting on an act and being something you’re not.
I have done a bit of both and it never worked out. Hiding away stops anyone from really getting to know you, and I promise, you are worth knowing!
Being something you’re not always ends in disaster because people will see through it. The more you stray away from who you really are, the more those feelings of being lost will envelope you.
Valuing authenticity is not automatic and acquiring the confidence to put yourself out there stirs up a lot of vulnerability and discomfort. However, it’s truly worth it.
Honest self-discovery is the path to feeling good about being you. Get to know yourself, what you believe and what makes you different. It could be the way you giggle at inappropriate times, the way you like things to be in perfect order, or always make terrible jokes.
It could be your family, your experiences or your past that has shaped who you are. Difficulties or triumphs, they all happen for a reason and are yours from which to learn from.
Try to shake off the safety blankets that prevent you from being real. I’m not saying you should ditch makeup or cosmetic things that make you feel good about yourself, but things that aren’t allowing you to shine have to go.
It might be saying what you think rather than agreeing with the general consensus. Or, it might mean dancing like no one’s watching — even if they are — just because the desire to do it is burning in your feet.
It could be trying something new, even if you’re the only one who wants to do it. It could be using other methods to tame social anxiety rather than alcohol or drugs. If you’re afraid you’re not confident or fun enough, you need to find new ways to feel better that come from within.
Tell your stories proudly and share your experiences without editing them first. Keep the details real and unfiltered and the edges rough because imperfection is beautiful.
Express yourself in whatever way makes you feel raw and exposed. Be the original, authentic person that everyone should strive to be.
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