It isn’t easy to be authentic.
In a society that values wealth, status, popularity, and perfection over one’s personal growth and the ability to develop genuine life-giving relationships, it is little wonder that many of us grow up through a confused state as we follow the crowd, failing to recognise that we are at our most beautiful when we are fully consistent with who we are.
Indeed, authenticity is the ability to embrace ourselves one hundred percent for who we are. It means not to hide, and not to be ashamed of what are perceived as negative traits or shortcomings, and giving ourselves that unconditional love that we need in spite of these imperfections. Because learning to accept every part and fibre of our very being, is coming to understand that no one in this world can truly condemn or judge us except for ourselves.
It means not beating ourselves up for where we are at right now, and tricking ourselves into believing we should be having better than what we’re already given, and thinking of an escape route to avoid having to face our problems. More often than not, further choices that are made without us being authentic only serves to further complicate the situation, as we foolishly believe we can salvage our cause without us needing to face it head on in the first instance.
Authenticity is more than just about being truthful or honest. It is the quality to be able to show our vulnerabilities and have full confidence that the people that truly matter to us will not mind seeing this side of us. Because those who truly matter won’t mind, and those who mind don’t really matter.
To be authentic first requires us to outgrow our state of denial and that of having a victim mindset, feeling helpless in the situations we perpetually find ourselves trapped in. It requires us to stop placing the blame on other people and external factors each time we find ourselves in newfound drama from choices of our own making that sucks the life out of us. It is to take ownership and responsibility of all choices that we make, whether they turn out to be wise or unwise later on, and to make a genuine effort into learning from our past experiences so that we can make better choices in the future.
Authenticity is to accept fully what we have with others, without pretending that it is something else or something that is worth less. So often we are driven by our need to accept only perfection, that we are tempted to throw out anything that we deem is worth less to us. We fail to recognise that it is in the journey and not the destination that we achieve perfection. And that ultimately, it is less important to be perfect, than it is to be authentic.
In truth, in failing to recognise what we have for what it actually is, we only serve to confuse ourselves further. Until we come to terms with accepting things for what they are and not what we would rather perceive them to be, we cannot begin on our journey towards authenticity and learn to love ourselves fully.
Self-Love vs Selfish Love
Authentic choices are steeped in self-love. It allows for life to flow through us to those around us, allowing them to grow in appreciation of who we truly are without having any masks on. It allows us to overcome fear and even intense pressure from our peers to do what is morally right and what is consistent with our true values/what we stand for.
Over time, being able to truly love ourselves moves us away from choices that are made out of self-preservation that are self-serving, towards becoming truly other-centered people. An ability to love and to serve without a subconscious hidden need for others to make us happy is born, because we realise that the only person who can make ourselves happy and bring us peace, lies within ourselves, and we stop trying to make others change to suit our preferences.
Freedom vs Unfreedom
Authenticity always liberates. It brings light into darkness. We are always at our freest and happiest when we are able to be fully authentic with ourselves. Be it in making big or small decisions, the true hallmark of an authentic choice lies in the fruits/consequence of the choice that was made.
Authentic choices always bring about a deep sense of peace and freedom within us. It allows us to stop hurting others because we are no longer afraid to be ourselves. Even to the extent of exposing our flaws to them and to have genuine, heartfelt conversations without judging ourselves because we know our true value is independent of how others perceive us to be.