Not so long ago, I followed a Youtuber (who shall forevermore remain anonymous) who taught me a lot about fighting my anxiety, and coming to terms with my identity. I was inspired by this young lady and I was motivated by her courage, motivated to change some of my negative habits, until a sudden and unexpected announcement – she was quitting.
Why? Because she felt that people were misusing her videos, she felt as though her audience were addicted to ASMR videos and, because of that, she was quitting. There was an uproar, a complete and utter backlash. How dare she tell us that we were addicted!
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 bizarre way, I actually felt quite sad for her.
Make no mistake, there have been times when I too 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 our inauthenticity, is ourselves.
Take, for example, that sweater that Aunt knitted for you, that sweater which secretly really, really hate. You can still turn it away and be kind and gracious about it. 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 red 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) for never putting it on. If your Aunt 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 never will. Not only would doing so make me feel very uncomfortable, it would also be incredibly inauthentic.
Last year, 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 in who I was, 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, by sharing it, and by sharing some of the things that I have learned.
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 because they know their own wants and needs, they don’t need anyone else to influence their decisions – they don’t need third-party involvement.
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 for a life well lived. It is important to show respect and to thank them for their input, but it is also up to us to decide what and how much (or how little) of their advice we ultimately heed. We each have a life, and it is up to each of us what we choose to do with it.
Authenticity is not a destination, it is a choice. It is pursuing our own goals and interests, and coursing our own journey in life. Our decisions 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. Don’t sacrifice your true self for the sake of approval of others, remember, this is your journey.
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?