This Is What Happens When You Allow Yourself To Be Truly Authentic
Lately, I hate the word authentic, but it wasn’t always that way.
I hate that we’ve twisted it, and squished it, and morphed into something that has little to no meaning anymore. It’s become a brand. It’s become a lifestyle. It’s become a hashtag. It’s become something that makes me want to throw up when I hear it.
We use it so much we’ve forgotten what it means. We say it so much that it’s lost its meaning. We hear it so much that it no longer resonates; it becomes white noise amidst the chaos of our lives.
Authenticity is not about a perfectly curated social media presence. It’s not about taking a picture without makeup and with unwashed hair and posting it on your Instagram feed and calling that “authentic,” either. It’s not about telling people that they “should___________.” It’s not about hiding your heart, and it’s not about sharing every detail of your life with the internet and every human you come across, either. It’s not about the perfect filter, lighting preset, or the consistency of your “brand.” It’s not about shaming someone else when they don’t fit into the world you have painted, created, and built for yourself.
It’s so much deeper than any of that.
To be authentic means you are vulnerable. It means that you lead with your heart, and you do not filter your words, actions, or ideas to fit someone else’s idea of what you are supposed to or who you are supposed to be. When you are truly authentic, you can stand in your own space of pride or discomfort. When you are truly authentic, you live in that place of rawness that cannot be filtered, for it is pure. It is from your soul.
To be authentic means you are genuine. The world is full of lists, and molds, and checkboxes, and confinements that are all eager to hold you within them. When you are genuine, you are not able to be contained. You cannot fit into those tiny spaces. Your authenticity is bigger than that — for you are genuine. What you say, how you act, how you react — these all come from a place of truth.
Part of the definition of authenticity states that something is made or done traditionally or originally, or in a way that faithfully resembles an original. Perhaps that’s where we get our wires crossed. When we’re talking about furniture, this works, modeling a trendy table after a farmhouse original so that it looks and feels authentic. Yeah, that works. But we are humans, not tables, and there is no original for us to model ourselves after. Our originality comes from within. That’s singular to our own selves, our own souls, our own hearts, our own minds — there is no original for us to model ourselves after.
We are the model, and we are one of a kind.
When we talk about authenticity in terms of (in existentialist philosophy), it is regarded as relating to or denoting an emotionally appropriate, significant, purposive, and responsible mode of human life. But those responses will change — as you change, as the world changes, as you evolve as a person, so will your reactions. As we age, our reactions to things change, for we continue to get more information, more perspective, more clarification on what really matters to us and those around us. This change in your reaction does not mean you are no longer authentic, but rather it’s quite the opposite. You’re reacting from a place of new truth and honesty — which is the ideal.
When we allow ourselves to be authentic without regard for applause, that is a wonderful thing. Honor your authenticity by standing in your rawness and your vulnerability. Let authenticity have the space to evolve — for when we evolve, we grow, and when we grow, we learn.
And when we continue to learn, that’s when we bring our best selves to the table.
Previously published on Thought Catalog, here.