In a world full of filters and fake news, it’s more important than ever to be your authentic self. I don’t know about you, but I feel inundated with a lot of fakey fakey stuff. You don’t know what’s real and what isn’t. I’m so disappointed how much society values image and how many will go to extremes just to be popular, get those “likes” and be an “influencer” (whatever THAT means) when in reality most of their pictures are not even an accurate reflection of who they are. I know at least one influencer that totally changes her looks and body for her pictures when in reality she looks completely different. Instead of being their true authentic selves, people choose to project what they perceive is wanted by others when in actuality beauty can be found in every person as they are. I’m not being judgmental, I swear, but I just wonder why so many people fear to be their true authentic selves, what’s really behind it, and what impact this has on youth with developing minds and self-esteem. Being a teenager and young adult is hard enough without having to compare yourself to something that isn’t even real. If fact, several studies have proven that there is significant direct and indirect impact on a person’s self-esteem by browsing on social media.
A series of studies published in the Journal of Research in Personality proposes that realness – acting in accordance with how you feel regardless of consequences – could actually be a distinct psychological trait. This is in direct contrast to “being fake”. This distinction becomes particularly important in the current societal climate. According to the study, “personality researchers distinguish between the true vs. false self, considering [authenticity] a manifestation of a healthy personality.” This does have its downsides because at times authentic people need to be different or disagreeable with others, but the authors maintain that “a critical element of being real involves the ability to be disagreeable at times.” There is definitely a mental health aspect to authenticity as well, and no doubt underlying factors to why someone is authentic or not, but that’s something each person needs to work out for themselves or with the help of a professional.
I have spoken about authenticity before, about how we are bombarded by contrasting images and messaging pushing you to “improve” yourself, look better and have eternal youth (or at least strive to it). Being authentic is empowering. When someone puts those inaccurate photos out there, they are in reality giving others their power because they want to be validated. As I mentioned in other posts, authenticity is being true to yourself by being honest with yourself and others, not being afraid to explore those parts of yourself that call to you the most and, most importantly, being empowered by who you are as a whole – the good, the bad, the ugly included. I will admit this was hard for me for most of my life.
Because of traumatic events in my childhood, I grew up feeling ugly and never quite good enough. Frankly, I hated myself. Being bullied in elementary school didn’t help, but I suspect my already low self-esteem made me a vulnerable target to bullies. Most of my adult life I sought out validation from others. I was used and abused by many and treated poorly and instead of standing up for myself I embraced it. It wasn’t until I learned who I really was and what I truly have to offer the world that I instead embraced my true authentic self. After I divorced especially, I started to discover and embrace who I really am and I became empowered to be my most authentic self. It wasn’t overnight however. Yes, I made A LOT of mistakes (cringeworthy mistakes!), I also made many bad decisions (oh so many!), but I also learned so much about myself and the world. I’m grateful for those experiences. It has made me who I am today.
It was a process, no doubt about it and I sometimes still struggle, but I push forward with my authenticity in whatever I do. That’s how I stay true to myself. How I stay authentic. We are all climbing that ladder and sometimes we stumble but we keep going the best we can. When I post on social media, I try to be the most authentic I can be. I try not to conform or follow trends. I have zero interest in becoming an influencer or being the coolest kid on the block, I just want to help others and spread my message.
Some key things that worked for me (and still work) are:
- knowing who I am,
- defining my values,
- accepting myself,
- loving myself,
- being confident,
- living in the present moment,
- learning from my mistakes,
- being grateful for what I have and
- being true to myself.
- It also includes surrounding myself with the right people as well as lots of self-care/filling my cup.
In the end the decision to be authentic or not is something each person has to decide for themselves. If you want to be more authentic, start with self-care and self-awareness. Stop seeking validation. Confidence will come. Starting small is completely OK. Next time you post something or speak publicly, ask am I being my most authentic and kind self – projecting my true self. You will then be a magnet to the right people and things for you – who doesn’t want that?
I highly recommend Dahlia Kurtz’s interview with Dr. Gabor Mate which discusses his book “The Myth of Normal” and the societal impacts of trauma and insecurity, etc.
Deep breath. One.Step.At.A.Time.
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