Being authentic is a rare quality. It’s tempting and easy to allow the expectations of others to shape us into something we are not. We do it to fit in, to be accepted. But truthfully, you are not really accepted if people are accepting you based off of a façade. In the end, it makes us feel cheap. To not be authentic about who we are has a way of making us feel that we are insufficient in ourselves and we must become something else to be accepted. When we are accepted for being something we are not, we are truly being rejected. For a while it feels good, and we can convince ourselves that it is good. But it eats away at the soul and leaves it empty.
I’m not advocating that we should be able to say and do and act any way we want and be accepted by others regardless of that. That is not what I am saying at all. I am saying that we should be authentic, be sure enough of who we are that we don’t need the approval of everyone in order to feel good about ourselves. When I say people should accept us for who we are, I’m talking about things like types of food, humor, level of introvert/extrovert, morning or evening person. There are things that people should reject us for, and things we should reject in ourselves—that is a different story though.
What I mean by authentic is knowing who you are. Understanding likes and dislikes, goals and ambitions, strengths and weaknesses, and then not deviating on those when people try to influence us to do so. If you don’t like sports, don’t pretend you do, if you don’t like poetry, don’t pretend you do, if you are out with friends and they are all acting stupid, you don’t have to.
We ought to know who we are, understand what we are doing in life, and not change that because someone else thinks we should. People are more valuable than that. It’s degrading to conform.
One of my favorite things is when I see someone do something that is completely uncool. I think it’s great because I know that they are not worried about others, that I am seeing who they really are. I don’t have to spend a lot of time trying to figure out who they really are. They just have the dignity to be open. They are strong enough to accept the criticisms of others. In one way they are vulnerable because people can attack them for being themselves, but on the other hand, they are strong because they are fortified within the deep-seated understanding of their identity. That is the way everyone ought to be