It`s not easy being real in a world that constantly pressures you to be just like everyone else. It takes a certain amount of courage to show your true colours in a society that does not generally value the different shades and nuances in personalities between people but rather encourages sameness among all. We do want to be authentic, we desire it, but there’s a battle involved and a fair amount of discomfort.
One of the great rewards of heading towards the summit on our journey towards self-actualization is the attainment of a more authentic self. A real self that makes no apologies for what it is, and one which is truly comfortable in its own skin, holding nothing back that resonates true within, despite the judging eyes of others. This is the genuine self that is guided by its own internal compass, is self-scripted, and makes decisions based on what feels real and true, and not by what is expected by outside forces. The sooner in life we can greet our authentic selves, the sooner we will be free of the societal ligatures which bind us and oblige us to conform to standards dictated by others. The authentic self knows and accepts its limitations and is not ashamed of its vulnerabilities. It is in comfortable alignment with its core beliefs and values, and congruent in its actions and behaviours.
It is indeed a good place to be if you can get there. But there are obstacles, and for many people – probably the majority of people – the risks are simply too great. As a result, the masks come up and people hide behind a façade that will allow them to incorporate and homogenize themselves into the vast but safe grey zone of society. These are not bad people, they are simply afraid to be judged by others as unworthy, or different, or possibly strange because they don`t necessarily go with the flow. They very much care what others think of them and therefore try their utmost to blend in as best they can, ignoring their own natural true wishes and their real desires, and thereby neglecting their authentic selves.
I am lucky enough to have been born into a family that never seemed to put too much emphasis on what others think. Learning from my father in particular I came to value honesty, transparency, realness, and simplicity in dealing with others. Lying and pretending is not a concept I am familiar with. I learned from a young age that it is not wrong to have views different from others, and that in fact, there is value in it. This gave me a good head-start early in life and then later, in my journey towards authenticity.
It is clear to me in my everyday dealings with people that there is an expectation that we respond to situations in pre-determined, (read: acceptable by the majority), ways. When you behave in a way that is outside of that norm, guided by the sincerity of your authentic self, you will encounter resistance. Such resistance is not easy to ignore, but a strong and congruent sense of self will go a long way in making other’s reactions of lessor importance to you.
Being truly authentic means you will know deep within your core that what you are, and what you feel is right. It`s a matter of trusting your own convictions and reminding yourself that only you can be right about your own feelings – and being good with that, right down to the centre of your true self.