You've probably heard the expression many times, but what does it really mean? And how can you truly be yourself when you're still not sure who you are?
WHY AUTHENTICITY MATTERS
For as long as you can remember, you’ve tried to fit in, be liked and do what others expect of you. That’s what most people do, after all. So why would you take the risk of revealing your true, inner self (whoever that is) to your peers? Well, maybe because that’s what life is about – making sense of the world around you – and to do so, it’s first necessary to understand yourself. While it’s comforting to belong and feel ‘normal’, it’s also rewarding to discover your authentic self, the one-of-a-kind you. Maintaining a façade is tiring – uncovering your true nature is liberating. You don’t need to hide behind others or pretend to be somebody else; you can take control, saying what you think and doing what you feel is right for you. Never mind if it shows your weaknesses – whatever they are, they’re part of who you are. Be real, not perfect.
DON’T BE A FAKE
It’s human nature to compare yourself to others and notice your differences, your faults and other people’s qualities. But first, let’s be honest, perfection is unattainable – so why waste time aiming for it? Think about choosing the opposite approach. Try to welcome your imperfections and view them as a gift that makes you interesting and unique. Second, see if you can tone down comparisons such as: ‘If only I were as good at maths as they are,’ or ‘If only I looked like she does.’ Thinking this way might accidentally motivate you to only be the person you’d like to be ‘on the surface’ and could even bring you down. After all, this photoshopped ‘you’ won’t always bring happiness and, more importantly, it might make you lose focus of what matters deep down – exploring your true identity. So, how do you do this?
Everyone’s a work in progress, so don’t expect to find yourself overnight. You might not know who you want to be yet and that’s natural. It takes time and patience, observation and listening skills, experience and mistakes, as well as courage and a willingness to confront adversity. Admittedly, the quest can sometimes be lonely, but life is a journey and everyone’s on their own path. When you explore and accept your true personality, you gain more confidence and self-worth, so express yourself rather than holding back. If your viewpoint differs from that of your friends, they’re likely to respect your honesty. In a similar way, if you reveal your vulnerabilities, it allows people to feel more connected to you. It has nothing to do with weakness. On the contrary, it highlights inner strength.
YOU ARE GOOD ENOUGH
Sometimes, the hardest part of the journey is believing that you’re worthy of the trip. You can’t always avoid doubts creeping in and negative self-talk when you feel judged, ashamed or not good enough. Everyone has bad days, so be kind to yourself and choose self-empowering language: ‘I am good enough’. Give new things a go, and when you make a mistake, don’t feel disappointed or lost – treat it as a learning opportunity. If you ever feel pressure from peers, friends or family, remember you don’t need everyone’s approval. Discovering who you are is down to you. Give yourself a chance and embark on an exciting journey of self-discovery.
YOUR 10-STEP GUIDE TO AUTHENTICITY
DON’T COMPARE YOURSELF TO OTHERS. They’re not better than you – they’re different, with their own imperfections and qualities.
ACCEPT YOURSELF. Knowing who you are starts by recognising your qualities and flaws and embracing them equally.
ASK YOURSELF THE RIGHT QUESTIONS. What you believe in and the values you live by will guide you in the right direction.
EXAMINE YOUR INSECURITIES. Let go of your tendency to doubt yourself. This will help you overcome fears.
TRUST YOUR GUT. Your absolute guide is your intuition and its power to increase your self-esteem.
BE PATIENT. Personal growth takes time and effort to build, so try to stay motivated and be proud of every step along the way.
BE KIND. Don’t be too harsh on yourself, no matter your mistakes or what other people might say.
DON’T HIDE AWAY. When you understand yourself better, you’ll know how to bring out the best in yourself and dare to shine.
REVEAL YOURSELF. Having a voice is empowering, so stand up for everything that matters to you.
REMAIN AUTHENTIC. As your values change over time, so will your identity – being who you are involves constant change. Good luck being perfectly you!