Do you constantly feel like you have to defend your choices to other people? Heck, do you often feel you have to defend you very personality, the very core of who you are to others? It sounds crazy, but you and I both know it happens all the time, probably at least once or twice a day. It’s a constant battle for authenticity out there, and it’s a topic this noggin’s been churnin’ on for quite some time now.
Why is it so easy for people to comment on what you’re wearing, bash your choice of lipstick, let you know you’re too skinny or too fat, too loud, too quiet, too this, too that, not enough here, too much there? It is almost mind boggling to me that we live in a world where being yourself has suddenly turned into some sort of crime that a pesky, unsolicited jury is endlessly trying to find you guilty of. In reality, individuality is the spark of life, and possibly the most fascinating thing about the human experience.
Yes, it’s definitely a scary thing to be you, in every way and in all situations, but if you’ve tried it, you know it can be exhilarating. It’s a hard lesson to learn, but the undeniable truth is that people will judge you no matter what you do or say, so why not do and say things that are true to who you are, that just feel right to you?
How many times have I been told I should act a certain way or leave out certain things to impress guys, companies, family, and others? How many times have I heard I share too much of myself, my clothes is too bright, my lipstick is too red, or I’m trying to accomplish too much too soon? I’ve heard it all hundreds of times, but guess what? I’ve rarely listened, and things have turned out pretty fantastically for me in life, friendship and career. It is by being my authentic self that I have always landed jobs and other opportunities, built deep and lasting relationships with people, built trust, and most importantly, learned to love who I am. And those who I haven’t won over by being me? Those people or situations were simply not meant for me, and that’s OK.
You see, there is a certain wondrous consistency that people come to expect from authenticity, and as much as they might fight it with their – be this, do it that way, you’re going too fast, no wait, too slow – authenticity is something people can sense and cherish in others. I don’t believe in masking certain parts of yourself to make others feel more comfortable or accept you more. After all, I’ve never known a greater feeling than the certainty that comes with knowing you showed YOU, all of you – the good, the bad and the sometimes very, very ugly – and they still chose you. Whether it’s as a friend, a colleague, a tenant, a business partner, a girlfriend, a mentor, etc., they chose you. They did not chose the pretend you, but the real you. Plus, doesn’t it sound absolutely exhausting to have to continue whatever act you might have pulled someone in with if you had chosen to be anything less than authentic?
Now don’t get me wrong. Being authentic does not in any way equate to being totally off color or offensive, breaking rules, and going buck wild on the count of you’re just being yourself. Life does not work that way my friends. Being authentic is being the most honest you, with tact, in all situations. It is saying and doing what you feel is right, but always with a spoonful of delicacy. It is dressing the way you feel comfortable, loving who your heart chooses to love, going for yours the way you feel is most effective, decorating your apartment the way that makes you happy and inspires you, and leading your life in the way that fits best for you. Not for Pepe, Juansito or Maria, but for YOU.
Whenever I’ve had people down my throat trying to tell me how much or how little of myself to be, I have quite a few simple tactics that quickly get them on their way, and help me get back to what actually matters. Ask a few simple questions. Am I you? Do you pay my rent? Do you subsidize my bills? Are you my keeper? If this your face or your body? Suddenly, they start to realize, oh wait – no, no, no, no – and off they go to take a closer look at themselves. Mission accomplished.
So what’s my point? My point is this is a life full of battles, and so many are not worth fighting, but the fight for authenticity? The right to be me, be happy, and be true to the first and last unwavering friend I will ever have? That is a fight I will never give up, and it is my humble opinion that you shouldn’t either. A world of clones is undoubtedly a dreadful place to live, so come on, help me out here, and just do you. Especially if you’re working towards your HAPPY, the fastest way to fail is to lose sight of your authentic self.
Now, tell me, what does authenticity mean to you?
Sonia, Word Share Junkie