“Be Yourself; Everyone Else Is Already Taken.”
This sage advice attributed to Oscar Wilde sounds simple enough. As does the modern day version, “Just be yourself.” But with the mega amount of pressure many people feel to succeed, to meet the expectations of family, friend, co-workers, and bosses, to “go with the flow,” to not make waves, being true to one’s self is harder than those statements make it sound. One pitfall to authenticity is that we’ve gotten used to things being fake or false - the exact opposite of authentic. This inauthenticity, if that’s even a word, has skewed our perception to the point that we’re hardly surprised anymore by the counterfeit. Because our world seems to thrive on a lack of authenticity, we expect things to be suspect. The intent to deceive can even be seen as the norm. “If we put up with a world that is so often inauthentic, it’s only because we’ve forgotten what real authenticity feels like,” notes Jordan Harbinger. Deep in our souls, however, we long for authenticity in others and ourselves. We’re instinctually attracted to people who are authentic although sometimes it takes a bit of thought to put a finger on what exactly draws us to these non-fakers. After the “Ah ha!” moment, we sink into the comfort and safety these folks exude and soak up the warm fuzzies. If you think living up to the expectations of others seems stressful, try living a lie. Because if you abandon your values, your morals, your hopes, dreams, and goals so that you can be liked or gain someone’s approval or “fit in,” you’ll discover the ultimate in stress-filled living. Pretending to be someone you’re not will take a heavier toll than standing up to opposing views. Consider these strategies for living a more authentic life.
- Believe in the value of personal boundaries. Then, summon the gumption to maintain those boundaries especially in the face of pushy, domineering people who don’t respect your boundaries - especially if respecting you makes things rougher for them. Don’t fall for pity parties, sob stories or any other form of manipulation that would have you give in.
- Don’t strive for perfection. First of all, because it’s imp Nobody is perfect. And trying to do and be and think perfectly will push you away from rather than toward authenticity. Embracing your imperfections and allowing yourself to be vulnerable and transparent is what “being you” is all about. You’ll be way more comfortable as will the rest of the people in your life.
- Tune into yourself. Observe how you interact with new people, connect at work, and respond in different social settings. If you feel as if you’ve stepped into someone else’s skin, you probably have, and that’s bound to be mighty uncomfortable. Learn to be aware of the first signs of you “not being you” and ease back into your own skin pronto.