Living in today’s world can make it hard for anyone to really be authentic. So many “right” and “broken” social norms; so much information, (non)values and mentalities, limits to free thinking; so many wrongs done and popular outrageous personalities, crimes and so on – how can you actually know who you really are and what do you stand for?
Knowing who you really are, what you really love doing, what you want to leave behind and what makes you genuinely happy can be sometimes daunting and difficult to find. Some people spend their whole life only to wonder at the end what is what they stood up for and achieved, and whether they did enough of what really mattered to them.
The easiest thing we all do to hide from this painful search is to drawn in anything that just fills up the time: meaningless work, projects, conveniences, tasks and relationships. Things that fill up the limited time we have, but do not fill the soul with anything that gives it energy and the excitement of being alive. That’s why we sometimes feel dead while living a life that seems normal, or event perfect, to everyone around.
Being authentic is being honest with yourself, brave to stand up for yourself no matter the norms and do the things that really feed your soul.
The journey to being authentic starts by tackling some things differently in our thinking and in our daily life. Some things require big changes, while others are mostly changes to the way we decide to see the world.
The voice inside
Ever had the voice inside telling you out of the blue something is just wrong or that something is completely different from what you have been thinking or feeling till then? And you chose to ignore that voice, because… it can’t be true? You already have everything figured out, how can this voice tell you the opposite?
This voice is called intuition. Authentic people have accepted the challenge to listen to it – it’s not an easy thing to do. But in most cases, listening to your intuition is the only real gift you can give yourself.
This way, authentic people are not the ones that say popular things. They speak their minds, even if their opinions stand out contradicting the general agreed thinking. They will give an honest opinion, even if that means hurting the feelings of the ones around. This way, they are also really good friends – you won’t just get a “yes” from them, but they’ll really think about things and give you their true opinion.
Authentic people are the ones that really love a deep, good conversation. They’ll go the extra mile, and will want to know more about the mind, the soul and deep meanings of the universe.
We know the only constant in life is change – life is unpredictable, situations change, people come and go from your life. If you try to force things and impose limits and rules, everything suddenly becomes heavy on your shoulders and really stressful, causing a slow soul death, boredom and unhappiness.
Letting go is how authentic people choose to go through life – embracing unpredictability, they understand the lessons they need to understand and accept change as a natural part of their journey.
Instead of constantly seeking to open closed doors, authentic people will look for the open ones and embrace the opportunities these ones have to offer. They’re in constant exploration, enjoying the beauty they find in anything and adapting to the course life takes them through.
Dealing with emotions
Sometimes we tend to dwell in our suffering and just feel that everything and everyone has been unfair with us. Some other times, impulsive instincts or society obligations lead us to do things we don’t really want to do. And even more often, we just don’t know how to manage our emotional baggage and deal with it, and we choose to hide and follow the crowd.
Authentic people decide to go deeper than the emotions they feel and explore what’s beyond that. They can look into their soul and see what’s really there. Suffering or pain are just projections we create to get attention. Impulsive instincts reveal a scream for even more attention. The attention a balanced, happy with herself person doesn’t need nor is asking for through her behavior. Social norms are another way to keep yourself safe and in good terms with everyone around, so that you are not judged or criticized. An authentic person decides to pretty much ignore the ones harming their true self.
Authenticity means you are who you are and that is it (that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t strive to evolve if you want to). You love yourself as you are, slowly learning to let go of insecurities, doubts, limits imposed by society or by yourself and must do’s. You do as much as possible the things you love doing, and you’re not scared to let go of the things that no longer make you happy. You don’t take things personally, you are detached and try to understand what is happening to you, accept it and learn from it while moving on.
Living in the present
You must have heard this so many times – the past is in the past and you can’t influence it, the future depends on what you choose to do now, so the only thing that matters is the present. How you live it and what decisions you take each moment. If you choose to live in the past and rewind everything that went wrong or think about how insecure the future looks – you’ll miss the present, you’ll miss an open door, and you’ll miss living something that can lighten up your mood, soul and life.
When you live in the present you also start noticing the beauty around you in all life aspects. You start noticing the nature, the trees, the people around you and their uniqueness, the beauty of music, dance, sport, reading, travelling, the beauty of observing what is really going on around you.
Striving to become more and more authentic is a struggle I have as well – there are moments when life hits you to the core with the realization you are not living up to who you really are. Being authentic is not easy, and by living like this you might realize your social circle will shrink, but you should be ready to replace the wrong people surrounding you with the ones that are right for the path you choose.
Being authentic is a decision we need to make and stick to it if we want to really achieve this.
Being authentic is only up to you – you are the only one who’ll stand by your side no matter what, and is responsible to make you happy to be alive.
And most important, the process to be really you takes time. When you are genuinely interested to change something, do it slowly and do only the things you can do at the time – you’ll figure things out on your own, at your own pace. Don’t put pressure and deadlines, this is a lengthy process that might mean you’ll have ups and downs. But you know where you want to get, so keep the energy to get there, do not waste it on proving anything to anyone or even to yourself.
“For far too long we have been seduced into walking a path that did not lead us to ourselves. For far too long we have said yes when we wanted to say no. And for far too long we have said no when we desperately wanted to say yes. . . .
When we don’t listen to our intuition, we abandon our souls. And we abandon our souls because we are afraid if we don’t, others will abandon us.”
― Terry Tempest Williams, When Women Were Birds: Fifty-four Variations on Voice