On Being Authentic - How To "Do You"
We’ve all heard the expression, “to thine own self be true,” but what’s implied here is that a “self” has already been clearly identified. How well do we actually know ourselves? I’d argue that much of our perception of who we are is dependent, or at least linked, to how others see us. And while sometimes that projection is accurate, who we are is still being curated by someone outside of ourselves. This is where being authentic comes into play. Internally, it’s being aware of and accepting our shortcomings while still acknowledging our strengths and not letting others dictate what’s possible within that framework. In doing this, we discover how powerful we are and then move about our lives accordingly. What does this look like in the day-to-day? It's getting rid of old narratives, forgiving ourselves for past mistakes and creating our own standards for excellence.
As we get older, we are able to re-invent ourselves. This re-invention acts as a catalyst to uncover our authentic self and allows us to move passed how we grew up (or the past mistakes we've made) to define who we want to be going forward. We have the opportunity here to use our (perhaps not-so-great) backstory to fuel and push us forward, rather than viewing our past as a setback. We all have our own path to walk and we can find strength and inspiration in our unique set of circumstances.
For those of us who aren't sure how to even start the search party for our unique self, think back to when you were a kid. There was a time in your life when the reflection from other people didn't change the perception of you as a person. We're talking about before the need to fit in, not rock the boat or adjust to the personalities or expectations around you - you were truly authentic and just enjoyed showing up and being present each day. Externally, this can be something as simple as discerning likes and dislikes without social proof. In today's times we are inundated with media and images of what our lives "should" look like according to the latest trends or celebrity, and sometimes a gut check is required to make sure we're truly operating according to our own values and not falling into groupthink, media manipulation or unconsciously acting out one-dimensional stereotypes of ourselves.
The articles in this past Weekly Wellness pointed to specific ways we can navigate in our lives with authenticity and make choices accordingly. When we operate out of this place, we operate out of boldness rather than fear. It allows us to unapologetically show up. Keeping this foundation gives us the inner strength to make character defining choices and respectfully disagree when certain conversations or situations call for it. This inner confidence creates a clear line about what we will accept, what (and who) we will put time and energy into and what we will allow in our space. In other words, just do you!
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