What It Means to Be Authentic and How to Do It

how to be authentic

Today you are You, that is truer than true. There is no one alive who is Youer than You. – Dr. Seuss

To Be Authentic Means…

It cracks me up that this expression, ‘You do you,’ is usually said (at least by my teenage daughter) with a mildly derogatory roll of the eyes because actually, it has become my highest aspiration to ‘do me’ to the fullest extent possible. Who else could I do with any hope of success?

But, unfortunately, so many of us spend our lives trying to be someone we’re not. Or at least what we imagine is a ‘better’ form of ourselves. As if somehow we are not quite up to snuff in our unadorned, unimproved, unvarnished selves. Well, let’s all stop that, shall we?

What It Means to Be Authentic and How to Do It

I want to invite us all to revel in who we are. Approve of yourself. Approve of your so-called ‘weaknesses’ as well as your strengths. Rather than spending all your time trying to compensate for what doesn’t come naturally to you, find ways to capitalize on what does. It’s so much easier and more enjoyable to boot.

What does this look like in actual practice? Let’s start small. It looks like wearing clothes that you like and feel comfortable in, rather than what’s ‘in.’ Staying home (unapologetically) to read a book if that’s what you feel like doing. Listening to Barry Manilow – or opera, or the Sex Pistols, or nothing at all – also unapologetically. It is simply owning who you are.

To be beautiful means to be yourself. You don’t need to be accepted by others. You need to accept yourself. – Thich Nhat Hanh

Who are you, really? When you strip away the things that you do because your friends do them, or they’re expected at work, or by your family? For a lot of us, it takes some delving to figure out what is ours and what we’ve naturally come to think is ours. Put on your scientist hat, brush off your curiosity, and start making a list of things that make you, You.

What’s your favorite color? What smells and textures do you, love? What did you love to do as a kid? What are your superpowers? What do you hate with a passion? What makes you laugh? What would you do if you won the lottery? What would you do if you had one year left to live?

Be as specific as possible, because ‘spending time with friends’ doesn’t tell you as much as ‘having drinks in the sun with girlfriends on a weekend afternoon.’ What kind of weather do you love? What time of day? Gather as much information as you can. Start consciously noticing when you feel happy and comfortable in your skin – and when you don’t.

It’s a process of becoming re-acquainted with (and resurrecting) your authentic self, your true nature, your inner being. It’s there somewhere, buried under all the should and shouldn’t you absorbed from people of influence and society as a whole. This is your genius, in the original sense of the word. This is where and how you shine the brightest.

‘Doing you’ on a deeper level builds on this self-awareness. Doing you, in this case, is about trusting your inner guidance on the bigger questions, as well as what to have for dinner. Once you have a bead on checking in with your gut, and once you get used to actually prioritizing your own well-being and happiness; you can start using those skills to suss out the right way to go when faced with big decisions… like whom to marry or whether to switch jobs (or if you should get that whole-torso tattoo).

“The privilege of a lifetime is to become who you truly are.” ― C.G. Jung

‘Do you,’ in both the trivial and the profound – it will grow your decision-making muscles and bring a lot more joy into your life. Be quirky and original and unique. You will not be everyone’s cup of tea, just as they will not all be yours. But when you do meet kindred spirits you will know them, and they will know you, and you’ll never have to wonder whether they’d like the ‘real’ you. Be the realest You you can be, every blessed day of your life!

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