Until very recently, I followed a Youtuber (who shall forevermore remain anonymous) who taught me a lot about fighting with anxiety, and identity. I was inspired by this young lady, I was motivated by her courage, motivated to change, until one of her most recent updates – she was quitting.
Why? Because she felt that people were misusing her videos and, because of that, she was quitting. There was an uproar. A complete and utter backlash. But, you see, my problem wasn’t that I felt cheated by what she had done, my problem was that whilst teaching us to be authentic, she hadn’t been authentic to herself. In a way, I felt sad for her.
Make no mistake, there were times I have been inauthentic, we are all capable of it and we all tell small white lies to avoid hurting other people’s feelings. The trouble is, the only person who really suffers because of your inauthenticity is yourself.
Take, for example, that sweater that Aunt Bev knitted you that which you really, really hate. You can still turn it away and be kind. Instead of saying “It’s great, I love it!” and feeling secretly resentful when you are expected to wear it at every Christmas party, you could express your gratitude instead, and still be honest about the reasons that it’s not for you.
“Wow, thankyou! You know, I’m a little unsure because green washes me out a bit, but thankyou! I really appreciate the gesture!”
You see? By expressing your gratitude for the gift, you are being authentic in your receiving the gift, and yet by explaining why you may never wear it, you are being honest (and thus, authentic) also. If your Aunt Bev then wants to accuse you of being an ungrateful pig who doesn’t appreciate her hard work, well, then that’s her cross to bear.
Sometimes, authenticity upsets people. Let me tell you, I know that I have relatives that would give their right arm to see me in a flowery pink summer dress, skipping down the garden path and giggling like the young lady that I’ve become. Well, I haven’t, and I won’t. Not only would doing so make me feel very uncomfortable, it also wouldn’t be authentic.
Not so long ago, I broke up for a time with my authentic self. Convinced that my choice to wear black really did mean I was depressed, I tried other colours. While I might have occasionally felt feminine and chic, there was something tugging in myself – I wasn’t being authentic, at all.
I am a black and denim girl. I live for rock band t-shirts and jeans and my hair, a natural brunette, is usually dyed with a hint of red. I match it all off with a silver-smokey eyeshadow and pale lips. I have a playful, rebellious, tomboy nature. That’s me, that’s who I am. That’s authentically me.
Before I started my blog, I had to ask myself a question. What did I want to do, and why was I doing it? The answer which came to me was simple, I was trying to help people, and I was doing this because I have been on my own adventure and I wanted to help people by writing about it.
When you are authentic to yourself, you walk different, you talk different, and you notice the people around you who aren’t authentic to themselves. Someone who is authentic does not care for fitting in, they just exist. They are them, and you can love them or you can hate them. They are not followers, they are ringleaders. An authentic person can make quick decisions based on their own wants and needs because they know their own wants and needs. If you don’t know what you want and need, how can anyone else help you?
Quite often, authentic people fall foul of those who want us to conform to their ways. The world is full of insecure people whose validation exists entirely on the agreeability of others. Other times, we meet those (usually the older generations) who have a wealth of wisdom to offer, and expect us to follow in their footsteps. It is important to show respect to those who may know better than us and to thank them for their input. However, it is up to us to decide what and how much (or how little) of their advice we heed.
Authenticity is not a destination, it is a choice. It is pursuing our own goals and interests, our own journey in life. It may not be for everyone and we may be criticised heavily for whatever we decide. Know that that is okay, you will meet others like you along the way. You reserve the right to engage with those who support you in your goals, and disengage from those who bring you down.
Authenticity can also be selfish, yet it need not be. Authenticity can be refusing to attend a church service because it doesn’t conform with your beliefs. It is not, however, being plainly rude or spiteful to those who still wish to attend.
So to you, if you have found your authentic self, I say well done and a huge congratulations. Be whoever you want to be and don’t let anyone tell you otherwise. To those of you who are still yet coursing your journey I have two questions to help you;
Who are you, and why do you exist?