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This piece is inspired by Clare Pooley, author of the Authenticity Project.
Clare's journey of authenticity began when she displayed to the world, as she described, her rather grubby truth. The truth that she had an addiction to "high-priced, good-quality wine (because if the bottle costs enough, you're a connoisseur, not a lush, right?)." She shared her authentic self through her blog Mummy Was a Secret Drinker, then her memoir The Sober Diaries, and more recently, she has also had the opportunity to give TED talks, helping to inspire others even further.
I read this book without any intention of learning, considering my time spent merely as recreational. However, as it turns out, I was pleasantly surprised to find that there are many life lessons hidden throughout which inspired me to take a look upon my own life and share these ideas with you.
What is Authenticity?
Define authenticity; "the quality of being authentic"... well, that's not all too helpful, this one seems better to me;
true to one's own personality, spirit, or character
To be true to yourself is to be authentic, to be genuine, to be real.
Isn't that what we all truly want, to be able to feel accepted for our true selves?
Feeling outcasted, abnormal, unaccepted, these aren't feelings that anybody wants to feel, but they are feelings that in some way we bring to ourselves by not displaying who we truly are. For if we are constantly hiding our authentic self, we must believe that there is something to be hidden, something to be ashamed of.
Feelings like these can be extremely destructive and are ones that you should steer well clear of.
Why Be Authentic?
Why do something that is so hard, something that puts you in a position of vulnerability, a position where anyone and everyone has the capability to ridicule who you TRULY are?
The answer is a clear one.
By being your true and honest self, you allow others to view and appreciate who you really are, allowing you to make friends based on honest emotions, allowing you to give and receive meaningful compliments that truly resonate with you.
By the same token, displaying your true colours without shame or fear allows you to discover those who do not appreciate you how you deserve to be appreciated. Before, any attacks were simply assaulting your made-up alter-ego that shielded you, now they're attacking your very being. You can't stand for that and you won't stand for that. You have worth and you know it.
Those who feel comfortable in their own skin understand that we are all different and for that reason, they are accepting of others and their unique beliefs, appearances, and ideas.
Be that person, know that we all have our differences, nurture an environment of kindness and understanding. Being derogatory or disrespectful is pointless, it hurts other people and in the long run, it hurts you too.
Authenticity Brings Opportunity
Somewhat unsurprisingly once you think about it, being open and honest has the ability to bring forth a whole host of useful possibility.
When you have deployed a front, a wall, a barrier, or whatever you want to call it, you aren't willing to show people what's really going on. Therefore, they have no way of helping, no way of giving advice, even no way of sharing a somewhat related anecdote that gives you some much-needed inspiration.
By being open and honest with your own problems, those around you can rally to provide all kinds of assistance.
You need a job?
Oh really! There's actually an opening right now at...
You're trying to start a business but are confused about how to manage your finances?
My son, Tim, actually started his own bakery last year and I'm sure he'd be happy to help give you some pointers...
You're really stressed about your relationship?
Oh, I actually know a marriage coach down in...
Now, I understand that sharing your problems is scary, we like to put on a front of perfection, we want people to see us and think, "wow, he's bloody awesome!" That's great and all, but I think what's much more important is to actually BE feeling great! So try your hardest to share where you can, and don't ever demean somebody for sharing with you. Help them.
People Are Nicer Than You Think
Throughout this, I've mentioned how being open can make you feel more comfortable and allow you to find opportunity, but I know it still sounds quite scary.
Sharing something that you're embarrassed or ashamed of is scary.
But by sharing, discussing, and learning, you
can find solutions to your problems.
Sharing openly and authentically is a skill and with time, you will begin to feel more comfortable with yourself and sharing yourself with others.
There will be times where people will simply try to put you down. It happens. But don't let this minority of small-mindedness put you on the wrong path. Empathy is a virtue, do not return fire with equivalent cruelty, openly tell them how their unnecessary malice hurt you and show them the better way. If they are not important to you or they are uncooperative with you, remove them from your life. It will be difficult but it will display to yourself and those around what you stand for and that you won't take and rudeness, cruelty, or disrespect.
To conclude, I ask you to ask yourself this simple question; who am I?
Once you discover yourself and what you stand for, all of your decisions will become clearer, you will be able to see what does and what does not align with the person that you envision yourself to be.
Be who you want to be, sculpt yourself into the best version of yourself, don't let others' negativity dissuade you, own yourself, and love yourself!
Now, get out there and make the world a better place!
Keep loving life