Oh where to start about the challenge of staying authentic to one self. This world is full of those who want to change you, who want you to fit into their click, control you or simply just see if you’ll “change” for them.
Merriam-Webster. com sites authenticity as “true to one’s own personality, spirit or character.” It’s defined as “not false or copied; genuine; real” or may favorite from the kids definition of authentic “being really what it seems to be”
Who here as always lived authentically? I for one can say I struggled with this for most of my life and still have to pause at times to remember…what is it I want? What do I believe in? Am I giving up my personal values, boundaries and morals to please someone else? Who the hell am I and what do people expect of this role or time in my life? I mention roles as I find each of us play so many roles in life (wife, husband, mother, father, friend, employee, daughter, son, sister -the list goes on and on) each role seems to knowingly come with it’s own set of unconscious or biased rules we are all “supposed” to live by. It’s difficult to know what side of the fence to be on at all times. I also mention stage or time in my life as I’ve also encountered personally as I enter into stages (going to college, getting married, having babies, babies exiting our homes, loss of loved ones etc.) there are expectations of who you “should be” or “how you should handle that” also. For the love make it all stop! 🙂 No wonder why day in and day out people struggle with living authentically. Why can’t we all just love each other for who they are.
One of my favorite authors once wrote “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.” -Brene Brown
While Brene has it spot on, enacting the principles of what said above is easier said than done. I know personally and first hand being vulnerable, sharing sides of you that others may not always relate to or enjoy or letting others in on the best and worst times of life is not easy. That said, I for one sleep better (most nights) knowing that I am willing to share all my faults, experiences, learnings and beautiful things about myself. You either like me or don’t and I am fine with whatever the outcome is. You ask me a question, you get my honest answer. As I tell my kids “What you see is what you get.” I won’t pretend to be like the other moms-because I am not the other moms, I won’t pretend that I don’t come with faults and I won’t pretend that when I am excited because I accomplished something amazing, that I should have to hid that in fear of judgement from others. I am unapologetically me! So how do we all start living more authentically.
The first step is by looking inward. For me this looks like the below
Unapologetically me is I love with all my heart, I try my very best to make everyone happy, I have a super loud laugh, I don’t like to be surprised by people showing up at my door, I keep my circle small, I am introverted and love my alone time just as much as I love being with others, I absorb others feelings and often know how they are feeling without them having to say it, most days I am a human lie detector; I can tell if you are being authentic, honest or just flat out feeding me BS, I am tenacious, a survivor, a fighter and like peace in my life and for others. I genuinely just want people to be happy, without judgement or fear, I believe we are all connected and by hurting someone else, you are in turn hurting yourself. I need time to process things when my brain, heart and gut are in conflict with each other (yes that means more down time lol.) Sit with yourself a while, connect to why you are truly feeling the way you are feeling. I promise you, while not fun at times you won’t be disappointed.
The second step is by stopping the voices in our head that tell us we are not enough
This is the hardest part for me. I’ve always been a bit of a black sheep by societies means. at I don’t fit into what most people consider an ideal friend, girlfriend, wife, mother, employee, sister etc. I tried so hard to fit in, to be like the others, to tell myself I was enough, to stop judging myself (I am my hardest critic.) Those voices in my head telling me to do more, to be more, to please more etc. often left me feeling even more lonely, sad and not connected. Although I desperately longed for love, acceptance and connection I was not connecting, simply because I was not being me. I’d like to say that being your authentic self is easy but I think most of us know, it’s not. However, what I can tell you is that when you give up being you it comes with a huge price. It can create depression, sadness, turmoil with yourself, anxiety, immense feelings of being lost in this world-like it’s sucking you away from everything you know to be true. And the worst one of all in my mind (and I’ve been here before) once you’ve lost it..It takes a fighting heart and an immense amount of courage, time and hard work tor you to undone what’s been done, to get you back to your authentic state. The good news is, it can be done as your authentic self is never truly lost. Sometimes we’ve just taken a long nap and it’s time to wake up. 🙂 So in times of self judgement or what I like to say is when the voices in my head or beating me up. Give that voice a name and tell them to go away. I know it seems silly but when you separate the voice and give it an identity, it truly helps you identify if it’s the voice of “you should be doing this” vs. I “want to do this.” Just try it.
The third step is ask for help, if you need it or that resonates with you
It’s taken me many years of therapy, coaching and some amazing friends and family to love my authentic self and realize that it’s okay to think deeply on how something may affect someone else and to care deeply about that. It was okay that I kept my circle small-these are the people who accept and love me exactly the way I am. It’s okay to say “no” – those that truly love and accept me know it’s not a personal dig at them, I just may not have the energy to be around others, to do what’s being asked or it may fall into the I “should” category. Those that know me also know it takes A LOT for me to say “no”. I’ve had some amazing counselors and coaches teach me the best lesson of my life and while it may seem easy or simple for some-this one did not come easy for me “It’s okay to create healthy boundaries with those who disrupt values important to my overall mental health and well being – I am and my values are important enough to be taken care of. I encourage everyone to identify what their personal values are. These are the things that make you tick, that give you passion, that make you fight or flight. They are the essence of who you are.
Lastly, Live Authentically
All this said, I know disrupting all that programming over the years feels uncomfortable but if I could do it, anyone can (I was not an easy case.) In the end I don’t regret a single decision to live my life more authentically. I am not saying it never comes with it’s challenges but I promise you once you start being true to yourself, you live with more confidence. You live a life that is true to your morals, truth, honesty and integrity. Your thoughts, actions and words shift and all that surrounds you begins to shift as well. Those that are meant to stay in your life – do so, those that are meant to join your life – do so and those that are meant to leave – also do so and that is okay. Ultimately, life around you changes and it’s priceless. I promise you, you will not be disappointed. To all of you out there in this world-Go out and live your authentic life. It’s beautiful and waiting for you!