Authenticity Is a Choice— 3 Ways to Start Today
Au·then·tic; “adjective”. Defined by the Merriam — Webster dictionary of English Usage as “true to one’s own personality, spirit, or character.”
But it is not as simple as that. Authenticity is a complex, misunderstood choice that is — not limited to being true to yourself but— deliberately seeking for further understanding of your truth, and having it reflect through deliberate action. Living authentically encompasses the proposition of intentionally living. We musn’t attempt to replicate others, but within ourselves, manifest into who we truly are by proceeding on personal and shared endeavors of self discovery and conscious action.
In the simplest terms: living authentically is the deliberate act of putting your personal values and dreams in perspective when making choices.
Authenticity is not only an adjective, it is also an action — a verb. In today’s world, authenticity is an active choice we have to make every day. Here are 3 ways to start being more authentic today.
1. Stop Imitating Others
Now before anyone comes at me, let me make myself clear. No, it’s not terrible or “unauthentic” to imitate someone when seeking self improvement. Imitation can be a healthy part of our lives. Almost everyone does it. It may be “healthy” food recipes or a workout routine, it’s completely fine to imitate as long as it progresses our personal agendas and wishes in perspective of our dreams, goals, and aspirations. For example someone who has no earthly idea who they are or what they want to do with their lives imitates others in their attempt to realize something for themselves, is not imitation done in vain, but imitation done in the name of a personal endeavor for self discovery through conscious action.
It’s when we begin to echo someone else’s persona and goals without keeping our goals in perspective, that we begin to lose ourselves and our authenticity. Slowly surrendering our voices and in doing so failing to allow the world to hear us.
We need to understand that there is a clear difference between imitation for self improvement vs. imitation that reflects someone else's desires and goals.
Imitation is the center of modern culture. From the clothes we buy, to trends we follow, and even the way we may pose in instagram photos. It’s inevitable and it’s natural. In today’s age, it’s becoming increasingly difficult to maintain a sense of self; as a result, in order to be authentic it must become a conscious decision.
In order to combat persistent negative social influence, we must give ourselves a frequent reminder to stay true to and remain as ourselves, not to derive our persona, goals, or actions from the potent personal influences of those around us.
2. Drop Envy
If there is one thing that will hold you back, it’s envying someone else. Next time you find yourself a bit envious, ask yourself these three questions:
- “Why do I want what they have?”
- “Is what they have truly what will make me happy, or do I think it will make me happy?”
- “How can I use their accomplishments as positive motivation for my own aspirations?”
To live authentically we have to understand that another person's possessions or situation are ultimately not what will make us happy.
Envy basically goes hand in hand with imitation as envy is the very fuel for it. As Ralph Waldo Emerson once stated, “Envy is ignorance” — it is the very facilitator of what we call aimless imitation. We have to make the conscious decision to shun envy, sensor imitation, and to embrace others personal values, dreams, and accomplishments in a way that complements the decisions and choices we make for ourselves in our deliberate choice to chase our own dreams.
3. Accept Yourself
Not as simple as it sounds, I know. You must first accept yourself as a person in order to grow from there on. Of course, it’s a process. You can’t just wake up one day and fully love and accept yourself for who you are! We wish it could be that simple but it simply isn’t.
If we can’t accept ourselves for who we are we will live our lives on endless endeavors of imitation and envy that will endlessly grate at our self identity till we no longer have a sense of who we are. To reject yourself is like throwing yourself down in a grinder, bits and pieces at a time. On this Earth, we only have ourselves to live with, not anyone else. On your deathbed, you face the reality and truth of you, not anyone else.
Accepting yourself is a choice — a difficult one at times — but it’s in accepting ourselves that we can act on our authenticity.
Here’s an exercise: Take 20 minutes. No phone, music, podcast, book, T.V. , Sound , etc. — nothing. Sit with yourself without any distractions — no I’m not talking about meditation — literally just sit there. It can be a bit weird at first, usually we have something (even if it’s minut), to sort of distract ourselves from…ourselves. What this will do is leave you with your own thoughts, allowing not only your personal creativity to build on the nothingness, but a a personal trail of self-discovery and acceptance to form. Start making it a habit to take time out of your day to just sit with yourself, level out, and grow to accept yourself. It’s a process.
It’s in accepting ourselves that we can be as honest as possible with the world, shedding any personas or images we put up to give society a different perception of who we are.
Finally, Make the Choice.
If there is anything you should’ve taken from this article is that authenticity is a choice we have to make. Authenticity is the manifestation of self interested choice and deliberate action. Authenticity is to do, to be. This exactly, is what makes authenticity a verb. We have to choose not to be envious, choose not to aimlessly imitate, choose to accept ourselves, and choose to consciously put our personal values and dreams in perspective when making choices.
“Authenticity is a collection of choices that we have to make every day. It’s about the choice to show up and be real. The choice to be honest. The choice to let our true selves be seen.” — Brene Brown, The Gifts of Imperfection
Authenticity is a choice that you can make today.