What’s all the buzz about authenticity these days? You seem to hear it everywhere, but is that because we live in a world where social media has the power to spread ideas like wildfire? Or could it be that we, as a culture, are hungry for that which is real, genuine, and authentic?
I believe we’re craving authenticity because we live in a world of disconnect—a world in which we can hide behind profiles and status updates. There seems to be an instinct to go deeper, to look within ourselves and to look deeper within each other. I believe that many of us are ready to be seen. We are ready to stop hiding the true magnificence of our being.
If this resonates with you, you may wonder how to know if you’re being authentic.
Before you get real, you must know how you hide.
What is inauthenticity? Think of it as playing small, living out a dimmed-down version of you, or not being genuine. You’re not expressing your true character, your essence. You may be highly aware that you’re not being authentic or you may not be conscious of the ways you camouflage yourself.
You may know you pretend to be someone you’re not, or try to live out a life based on a drive to seek approval, love, or belonging.
Maybe you’re following the dream career that was really your father’s dream and not your own. Maybe you’re dating and have a knack for being too nice to seek approval and not drive a potential partner away. You might pick up the bill at dinner to look good, but the truth is you’re struggling with massive debt. Maybe you pretend to be interested in an activity that bores you to death just because you think it’s what you should be doing. You don’t speak up for your needs in a relationship. You may not even know what your own needs, desires, and interests are if inauthenticity is strong for you.
If you aren’t living in alignment with your truth, you are not being authentic.
Inauthenticity can make a person feel resentment, depression, boredom, anger, and a slew of other unhappy feelings. You may feel irritated by or jealous of someone who is living their life in more authentic ways. You may feel like you’ve just given up on your dreams of being who you want to be. You may feel like you’re missing out on something in life.
The roots of inauthenticity run deep.
If you struggle with being seen for who you are, it’s likely this is not a new problem for you. Often these beliefs begin in childhood, in small and subtle ways (and sometimes, not so subtle ways).
People who struggle with being authentic usually have some deeper core beliefs, such as not being good enough. You may have been given messages over the years that gave you the idea you were too much, or not enough. Children should be heard and not seen. Don’t be so crazy, loud, quiet, needy, nice, selfish, sexual, etc, etc, etc. You may fear rejection, disapproval, or abandonment if you show who you really are.
Are you relating? Authenticity means that you must allow yourself to be witnessed—purely, and simply, as you.
Does this sound intimidating?
Authenticity requires courageous action.
It’s crucial to identify the stories you use to validate your instinct to hide. What experiences did you have that lead you to believe you couldn’t be you? It could have been a parent, a sibling, a school bully, a boss, your peers, the media.
Life is ripe with opportunities to dim our light; but the truth is, all of these experiences are interpreted through your perception. You are the storyteller of your life. If you can tell a new story, being seen may not be as intimidating. The trick is to identify your stories as just that…stories. And then you begin to courageously rewrite your stories in a way that will provide you with the strength to show up in your life in more genuine ways. Be who you are in relationship. Follow the career of your dreams. Stop trying to be “perfect” and just be you, with no limiting stories attached.
Step into the limelight.
Being authentic insists you let go of your fear of being seen and all of the fears that attach to that (rejection, disapproval, inadequacy, etc). It means you must take a risk.
You step into the limelight of your life, your relationships, or your career.
The limelight may be grandiose dreams that need to take root and grow. The limelight might be a soft glow that shows up in a conversation with a partner or a friend, where you disclose your true thoughts, feelings, and desires, regardless of how you think they may receive them. It may mean shedding some crazy notion that somehow you have nothing important to share with the world around you. It may mean you embrace the wild idea that you are worthy of being seen.
You are enough.
You are magnificent, and you owe it to the world to show your true being.