Do you feel you’re not being true to yourself? We walk you through how to uncover and embrace your genuine self.
The word “authenticity” is used in various contexts. In conjunction with art, for example, it means the work is original and not a fake or replica. When it comes to people, authenticity is defined as being true to yourself, your personality or character. You have a sense of what this means and can usually spot someone who has pretensions to be someone they are not. Authenticity builds trust, faking it doesn’t.
Unfortunately, authenticity is losing its meaning. These days, it’s a word often associated with brand, both personal and corporate. Brand authority is the name of the game. In a world dominated by social media and online exposure, being authentic is no longer about being genuine – it’s about portraying genuine. It’s about marketing yourself.
When you cannot be true to yourself, when you turn yourself into what I call “a pretzel”, you may end up doing things you don’t want to do and live a life that is not yours.
There is a difference between presenting yourself as a professional and taking on an overall persona that is far removed from who you really are. When you cannot be true to yourself, when you turn yourself into what I call “a pretzel”, you may end up doing things you don’t want to do and live a life that is not yours. You may start looking at yourself through other people’s eyes, hiding the frailties you perceive in yourself in order to look good, unable to differentiate between which behaviours you display in public and which ones remain private. You become your own advertisement. You keep up with the Joneses, seemingly connected with others but disconnected from yourself. When the façade crumbles for one reason or another, when you want to show people that you are not as perfect as you have led them to believe, the discrepancy is so great that people lose their trust in you. Even more devastating, this reinforces your own beliefs about what you are (not) worth, resulting in more protective walls and further loneliness.
It is not easy to balance being a flawed human with being a flawless professional. While taking off the mask completely – being brutally honest and not caring about your reputation – is not a feasible option if you want to have friends and stay in business, there are things you can do that help you stay authentic.
- Start with liking yourself
- Accept that not everyone will like you
- Differentiate between a friend and an acquaintance
- Talk about your flaws and failures
- Take risks, fail deliberately
- Express all your emotions. You don’t have to be happy all the time.