Are you living authentically?
That’s a question I’ve been asking myself lately. More than asking, I’ve been searching. Searching for what living and being authentic actually means.
The theme and notion of living an authentic life feels like it’s everywhere at the moment. Blogs, books, business and self-discovery advice, personal branding, community, relationships, speakers, and more are giving their thoughts or have placed it at the core of their mission statements. It’s a glorious statement and resonates with the heart, because after all, we are each created to live as our true selves.
But what is authenticity?
I love how Brene Brown eloquently pens it:
“Authenticity is a collection of choices that we have to make every day. It’s about the choice to show up and be real. The choice to be honest. The choice to let our true selves be seen.”
To be authentic is a choice. Just as we choose to be bold, we must also choose to be authentic.
Authenticity is when you stop apologizing for who you are.
Recently I stopped apologizing for not being a social butterfly or life of the party. Naturally I’m a homebody and thrive on brunch or coffee dates with one or a few people at a time. No matter what environment I’m in and even if I know everyone present, once there’s four to five or more people in the conversation, or even at a large function, I automatically withdraw or find a smaller cluster of people. For a long time I really disliked this aspect of myself. However, I’ve learned to stop apologising for it. Just as I don’t thrive in those situations, others don’t thrive in the smaller ones. And that’s okay.
Living an authentic life means being proud of your story.
Each of us has walked a different path and our hearts bear the marks of it. Know that you’re imperfect and flawed, yet wholly invaluable because of it. Sometimes that means finding healing to mend our emotional, mental and physical beings. Other times it means speaking openly and confidently about your life because it’s built you into the person you are today. Don’t despise your story or where you’ve walked, own it. Congratulate yourself for making it this far and keep walking, because with each step you write more of your story.
Authenticity means owning your strengths, and pushing your weaknesses.
This doesn’t mean using it as an excuse for bad behaviour because “that’s how I am”. If you find yourself using it as an excuse, maybe it’s time to recognise that part of yourself as a weakness and decide to push it out so you can become altogether stronger.
Authenticity denotes beauty and grace. After all, we are fashioned by pure beauty and threaded together by grace.
Where authenticity can often be blurred is that we can think it means telling everyone you encounter about your troubles or successes. But it simply means being real. Instead of trying to impress, simply be by engaging with the other person, listening as much as you open your mouth to talk, and living honest with your life.
Authenticity is expressed differently in each person. Yet these things will remain: it requires courage, confidence, community, and compassion. Courage to be you and vulnerable when you may want to hide. Confidence by believing in yourself. Community with others, because we’re better together and not meant to go through life alone. And compassion for ourselves and those we encounter.
Seek healing and community. Find grace and confidence. Live free and alive.
We’re all authentic, but it’s our choice as to whether or not we let it be seen.
– image: Elizabeth Lim