Faker: Living Authentically

This above all: to thine own self be true,
And it must follow, as the night the day,
Thou canst not then be false to any man.

– Shakespeare, in Hamlet

From Mean Girls

From Mean Girls

Sa wat dee Kah, I’m back! Wow, what a trip. I did get plenty of time to relax, reflect and meditate as well as ponder on a few blog post ideas. Perhaps it was all the sunshine or the mango fruit shakes, but my creative juices seemed to be flowing. But I’ve held back on publishing though because, to be honest, some of them still feel too raw.

Not a raw, as in unpolished, but make me feel far too exposed and vulnerable.

I wrote a piece on forgiveness and it’s healing power and another on my journey with spirituality. But even as I wrote the words there was still the voice of doubt in me asking, am I really ready for this? Am I really ready to expose my inner most thoughts and fears?

It’s easy to post on food and recipes. They’re relatively neutral and don’t give away too much of me. But to post something emotional, well, it leaves me so exposed.

It acknowledges that I have struggles, emotional and spiritual. It states that I believe in something greater than myself, a higher power, which is opens me up to ridicule by a wider audience. I lay out, for all the world to see, that I am human and imperfect.

That right there, is terrifying.

To admit that I am imperfect, different or that I may not have it all together is a thought that leaves so many of us running scared. My logical brain of course tells me it’s ridiculous, we all have struggles and fears. That after all, is what makes us human.

But in a world where we have so much of our life on display, through Facebook and Instagram, there’s so little we truely share. All our posts are carefully curated and photos edited and filtered to ensure we are only shown in the best light possible, our public selves are rarely a true reflection of our private selves.

I follow quite a few fashion bloggers on Instagram (the Sydney girl is still strong inside me) and each shot is more beautiful than the last. Their hair is always impeccable, skin is silky smooth and all their outfits are so bang on trend to the point of being irritating. You’ll never catch them online looking anything less than perfect.

We see these images and sadly, we believe them. We think that their lives are perfect, without the daily struggles and dramas like our own. Suddenly our own lives look boring and insignificant.

On a side note, I also follow an Instagram page called “youdidnoteatthat” which pokes fun of these ridiculously perfect accounts who alongside photos of their incredibly sculptured and fit bodies are photos of them eating burgers or cupcakes, highlighting the idiosyncrasies of the poster. It’s a little harsh, but a helpful reminder not to believe everything you see.

We carefully hide our real selves for fear of being judged or ridiculed.

I have a friend, well more like acquaintance. We’ve met a couple of times over the years and traveled in similar circles. I’ve known this woman to be a gorgeous, stylish, intelligent and well liked and well regarded person. She also happens to have a blog and associated Instagram page.

Over the years I’ve watched her blog transform time and time again as she has reinvented herself. From fashion, to health and wellness, to travel, to her life in general, to who knows what now. Alongside of it, her Instagram has also followed this curious path and now she’s taken to posting images that, whilst they appear to be of herself, are carefully selected to cultivate a certain image.

To the unobserving eye, they could be pictures of her. All carefully taken to omit her face. However there’s quite a few flaws to these photos which reveal themselves to be fakes if you look closely. Flaws such as ‘her’ car with the drivers side being on the right (FYI we drive on the left in Australia) or shots taken from behind with a completely different body/hair type to her own.

Whilst initially it was quite humorous to observe, it does break my heart. When did this amazing woman decide that her life was unworthy of admiration that she now feels the need to pretend to be someone else?

As I pondered about her page though I started to consider my own photos. Whilst I haven’t faked any per se, I have filtered out the ugly stuff and carefully selected photos that only highlight my accomplishments or successes. When did I decide it wasn’t ok to be me?

Somewhere along our lives we all decided that it’s not ok to be ourselves.

Even admitting online that I struggle with psoriasis or acne, both equally as unattractive, was a hard task for me. Admitting to the world that I have terrible skin was and still is hard! Each day I carefully conceal with makeup and avoid wearing black (scalp psoriasis sufferers will get that last bit 😉 ) so no one will know that I don’t have it all together in one perfectly manicured, put together package. Putting it out there, online for the whole world, was a major step.

We conceal the stuff that makes us special, unique; our true selves. In a world where everything is shared online, you would think our insecurities would be diminishing. We would be exposed to more people, revealing how alike we all really are in our fears and insecurities. But instead, the opposite has happened. We’ve all become experts at editing our lives to highlight us only at our best.

I’m not suggesting myself, or anyone else, should start posting unflattering photos of themselves or writing about their failures on Facebook just to prove we’re all above the ego, just start taking a look at how you are being unauthentic in your own life.

I love that quote from Shakespeare, up top. If you can’t be true to yourself you can’t be true to any one else. Where are you being inauthentic in your own life?

What is “Authenticity”?

“Authenticity,” as defined by psychologists Brian Goldman and Michael Kernis, is “the unimpeded operation of one’s true or core self in one’s daily enterprise.”

At its root, authenticity requires self-knowledge and self-awareness. Authentic people accept their strengths and weaknesses. They are accountable. They are connected to their values and desires and act deliberately in ways that are consistent with those qualities.

First, there is our outer authenticity – how well what we say and do matches what is really going on inside us.

Second, there is our inner authenticity – how well we actually know ourselves and are aware of our inner states.

No one is fully authentic all of the time in their outer presentation. Sometimes we need to put on an act to get by.  But some people spend more time living inauthentically than they do authentically. It is unpleasant and damaging to us if we are trapped in jobs or relationships where we rarely get the chance to be ourselves. If we are trapped, we need to change the situation when we can so that we can be free to express ourselves authentically.

More damaging, however, is when we don’t know ourselves and it is our inner authenticity which is compromised.

Authenticity starts when you set the intention to be genuine.

Then, there must be an awareness of what that looks and feels like, and a willingness to act in accordance with your genuine nature even when it feels vulnerable.

4 Tips to Live Authentically

Here’s some of my top tips to live more authentically:

1. Define your values: It’s hard to behave in an authentic way if you do not know what you value and desire. Often, we hold tight to the same values we grew up with, when we need to reevaluate what feels right to us now and align our actions around those things. Get clear on what you care about and authenticity will take hold.

2. Be aware when you’re being inauthentic: Don’t judge yourself for it, just stop and observe yourself. How do you feel in this moment?  Explore the fears and beliefs that may create those barriers to your authenticity.

3. Meditate: Spend time in stillness. Connect with yourself. Use journalling to uncover your inner thoughts. Listen to your inner whisper, the wisdom of your intuition and what your heart calls you to do. Until you have a crystal clear sense of who you are, and you have developed a strong and beautiful connection with yourself, it will be very difficult to live authentically.

4: Trust your intuition: Often, we feel out of sync when we are acting inauthentic. Things just don’t feel right. Pay attention to those hunches, physical sensations and impressions. They can be your instincts telling you that you are not being genuine. When you are on track and authentic, you’ll feel that too.

Make the Commitment to Yourself to Live Authentically

I’m still petrified of posting certain stuff, but I refuse to be drowned out by my own fears. I want to be able to leave this earth saying, “Yes I lived and here’s the evidence”.

Steve Jobs, who died in October 2011, is quoted as saying:

Your time is limited, so don’t waste it living someone else’s life. Don’t be trapped by dogma – which is living with the results of other people’s thinking. Don’t let the noise of others’ opinions drown out your own inner voice. And most important, have the courage to follow your heart and intuition. They somehow already know what you truly want to become. Everything else is secondary.

This post is me making a commitment to myself to live completely authentically. I know it’s time to shed anything and everything that is not in line with who I feel I truly am.

I want to just be me, and to live my life as I have always dreamed.

This decision means letting go of many of my old habits. I give up trying to change myself in order to win the love and approval of others. I let go of allowing my fear-driven voice to hold me back.

Will you make the commitment to yourself as well?

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