Before this year, I typically thought of myself as pretty authentic. I am always more than willing to "just be me" and live my best life (whatever that really means). I would dance like no one is looking, have deep conversations with my friends and loved ones and was able to strongly speak my mind on what I think matters. After a long, long year, I have come to the conclusion that I actually have a lot of work to do.. and I think you might too.
We not only have the opportunity but the obligation to be authentic now more than ever. As we transition into the holiday season we should use the remainder of the year to practice this missing piece of our lives. Whether you get to be in person with the ones you love or have a Zoom holiday party - you can utilize this time to be more connected than ever before.
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We have a problem today that we are all guilty of submitting to. Society tells us to be one way. Fit in this box, act this way, work towards your goals because your worth is equal to your economic progress. On the other side of things - everyone is telling us to be true to ourselves, be authentic, and "be you". But what does that mean? Own your interests? Feel no shame for posting a picture you feel a little self-conscious about? Does it mean shouting what you believe so loudly you drown out everyone else? Because hey - you're just being you, owning your opinion.
Authenticity is so much more.
Being authentic means taking down all our walls. It means being vulnerable and realizing we are worthy as we are. It means accepting we are not perfect but we still deserve to be seen anyway. It's being open and honest with ourselves and others. Being authentic is knowing we have flaws and scars and that we are worthy of love and acceptance anyway. It's crying in front of others and with others. It's showing up, being present. It's listening, it's loving ourselves and others without bounds. It's feeling at our deepest levels and sharing without hesitation.
Authenticity is being vulnerable. Not online in a one-off post with you with no makeup on but in real-world relationships. It is real and tangible.
Being authentic opens up a world of opportunities. If you are able to realize that you are worthy, regardless of your flaws - you will begin to trust yourself again, take chances you thought you were out of your reach and open yourself up for friendships that you would have missed out on before.
If we continually practice being more authentic our lives will change in a fundamental way. We will have deeper, more meaningful relationships. These relationships will be built on trust and will leave us filled up instead of draining our energy. Relationships in the form of a "like" will never fuel you, they will only leave you empty, yearning for more likes and attention. Only real, authentic relationships can bring you true social fulfillment.
Okay Darci, but how do I practice being more authentic? Here are a few ways to be more authentic and a few questions to get your mind thinking.
1. Make sure the ones you love know that you really truly love them. Sometimes sharing feelings is hard or even uncomfortable. But be authentic and really share how you feel. It might even be exactly what someone needs to hear.
- Tell your friends how much you appreciate them.
- Take the time out of your busy schedule to hang out or call your friends/family.
2. Listen, ask questions, and listen some more. Make everyone feel seen.
- Listening allows you to learn more about others and in turn yourself. Do not always think about your next thing to say but really try to listen and be closer to those around you.
3. Be vulnerable and open even when it hurts.
- Share your late-night thoughts, what keeps you up at night. Your aspirations, your fears,
your deepest feelings.
- Journal about how you are feeling and what you are thinking. This can help you be more authentic with yourself and help you have a deeper understanding of why you feel a certain way.
4. Turn off your phone and be present. I will say it again so it really resonates... be present.
- To be truly authentic we need to show up. This means taking the time to turn off your screens and look people in the eye and really be present. Take the time to journal in silence so you can really think. Show up and be where your feet are.
As we wrap up this difficult year, I challenge you to be authentic. Be vulnerable. Get uncomfortable. Take chances in your relationships. Take a chance and be vulnerable with yourself. Journal and get back in touch with who you really are, not just who you are online.