"In order to be authentic, the first step is to know who you are. In the world today, this could involve “unbecoming the things you’re not,” rather than becoming more. When you live a busy life on auto pilot being pulled in all directions, incessantly adding on to your plate, it’s hard to know the true you."
I’m not sure there’s a bigger buzz word than “authentic” these days when it comes to describing a desirable attribute. If the standard many strived for a decade or so ago can be surmised as “cool,” in most recent years the golden standard seems to have shifted to "authenticity."
This word is used to describe everything, starting from an ideal friend or partner to a successful marketing campaign. So what does it take to be truly authentic and is it worth the hype?
To cut to the chase, I think yes. To be authentic means to be true, honest and genuine. Not just with isolated words, actions or projects, but in an all-encompassing way to the core. It’s amazing how people can spot a phony a mile away. If you want to build quality long-term relationships with friends, family, co-workers, customers, vendors…anyone for that matter, you need to show up as your authentic true self.
So what does it take to be authentic? Well, before we dive into the list here, I think it’s worth noting that it takes effort to build authenticity. It’s a bit counter intuitive, right? If being authentic basically means showing up as your natural self, why should it take effort? It does because of all the exterior stimulus and distractions around us – if you don’t focus on staying true to your core, with all the temptations out there, it’s easy to be swept away and end up not even knowing your true self yourself – which is the first step to authenticity.
This starts my list. In order to be authentic, the basic first step is to know who you are. In the world today, this could involve “unbecoming the things you’re not,” rather than becoming new things. When you live a busy life on auto pilot being pulled in all directions, incessantly adding on to your plate and becoming more, it’s hard to know who you really are. It takes inner contemplation and proactively searching inside yourself to find and understand the true you.
The second step towards being truly authentic is to engage in some self-love and genuinely liking yourself. Instead of letting the negative narratives grow, focus on your unique gifts and strengths and come to sincerely loving the true you. If you don’t think you’re worthy of love, how will you convince others? Then, work on trusting yourself – this is where your gut and intuition kick in.
After going through the basic steps of knowing, liking and trusting yourself, the journey towards authenticity involves setting core life values, becoming more and more comfortable in your skin and letting your creativity flourish.
When I say “creativity,” I don’t mean anything artistic – living a creative life doesn’t mean you’re creating art or music. Rather, it entails letting go of patterns that no longer serve you and following your bliss to bring yourself into a “flow” state.
Psychologist Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi defines the concept of flow as “the state in which people are so involved in an activity that nothing else seems to matter; the experience itself is so enjoyable that people will do it at great cost, for the sheer sake of doing it.”
Flow state is a creative, romantic and magical state that anyone can enter regardless of pure artistic talent. You might experience it while working on a career path or even just talking to someone you connect with or engaging in a cherished hobby. I feel the flow state take over when I’m going through my nighttime skincare ritual!
To wrap up, I would say the last piece to being authentic is to continuously practice and be accountable to yourself. Again, it’s easy to lose yourself out there. Make sure you take the time to come back to your intention of authenticity and practice this quality over and over again. This one's worth the hype.