Authenticity, or being who you truly are, is a very difficult thing to do. If you don’t agree, think about the number of times you have disagreed with your boss’ opinion and wanted to tell them what you really think of their latest idea for time allotments at work and how often you actually said what you wanted to say. Not easy. Not even a good idea for the most part — especially when rather than working you would like to be at home in your pyjamas, doing nothing most days.
Authenticity is a concept I have struggled with personally. I have always been an honest-to-a-fault kind of person. I am a terrible liar, and as a result I find it just makes more sense to say what I truly mean. Does this mean that I am cruel or harsh with my honesty? No. I do truly try to take into account how others might feel when I tell them what I truly feel.
When I was younger and someone asked me what I thought, I would tell them without thought. For example, I thought when a friend asked my opinion of their new boyfriend’s behaviour I should tell them what I thought of the behaviour. If they asked, surely they want to know? Being a pretty loyal person, the last thing I would want is for them to feel unappreciated and for me to see them unappreciated! However, you can imagine my surprise when telling them upset them and they were angry for my feedback. So in that circumstance, being my authentic self and being honest with feedback was actually difficult. Reading the signs of what someone wanted me to say became much more imperative. I started holding back my opinion more often and delivering what was necessary when I saw a true and honest opinion was not warranted, but support was warranted and just a listening ear instead. Did I find it difficult? Absolutely. Almost as difficult as wearing shoes that are too small for your feet.
As I have matured and learned more about myself, my ability to be honest and to tell someone what I truly mean has become an asset. My honest-to-a-fault approach is very much appreciated by those in my life who want a friend or foe they can trust, who they can count on for the difficult times and decisions they need to make. More often, people are directly asking for my honest opinion and asking me not to filter what I think! Imagine what I perceived once as a source of conflict is now my source of strength.
So how does this have anything to do with developing your authentic self? I wanted to give my own examples to demonstrate that with your best intentions, being your authentic self may not be the person you feel others around you will accept or appreciate.
In order to fully grow as a person, the people who truly love you (family, friend, or folly) will always have something to learn and grow from themselves with the example of you being yourself, whomever you know that person to be, deep in your core.
Your unique qualities are what the world really needs, as all of us have something very special to contribute.
Sit with yourself for a few minutes today and think about what qualities you know to be your true self. Perhaps you have become separated from them and need to become reacquainted with those parts of you that truly will make you and the world around you a better place. We are all waiting to see them!