We know it because we do it!
Maybe you spend hours taking the perfect Instagram photos: selecting the right filter, adjusting the colors and exposure, coming up with the best tags, and topping it all off with just the right jealous-inducing caption.
Or maybe you’re more prone to posting Facebook pictures while out having fun, suggesting that the majority of your life is spent adventuring or vacationing or living it up.
We try and get those outings to look as perfect as we had hoped they would be.
Never mind the fact that the family still didn’t stop bickering for the entire island getaway, or the dog ate the picnic on your daytrip to the mountains, or your “friends” flaked on you last minute for that All-America BBQ you planned.
Then there’s Snapchat. It’s just a tease of both the real and the fake life combined, ever vacillating between the two.
How to Embrace Authenticity in an Age of Media Mirages
1. Technology Tricks Us
We have come to a point where technology has had to try and replicate the good old days of regular human interaction, because that’s what we’re all missing, we just don’t realize that no social media platform, game, or app with ever be able to truthfully do that.
There are those who paint a better-than-picture-perfect social life, and there are those on the other extreme who just can’t stop over-sharing their private life, but the problem with all of it is that:
None of us trusts anyone, because we know our own social media is (most likely) a bit of an exaggeration at best, and a full-blown fairytale at worst.
2. Relationships Matter!
When we can’t trust, we can’t connect. When we can’t connect, we can’t build real relationships.
When we can’t build relationships, we end up isolated, lonely, and striving to be accepted, or trying desperately to fool people into thinking we’ve got it all figured out.
Regardless of how many friends, followers, or fur vests you have, you won’t be able to escape the painful realities of a life without meaningful relationships and purpose.
3. Authenticity Is The Answer
But here comes this delicate idea with a lot of potential: Authenticity.
Brené Brown, who is an author, speaker, and shame and vulnerability researcher, has uncovered a lot when it comes to how to embrace who you truly are.
She says, “Authenticity is not something we have or don’t have. It’s a practice – a conscious choice of how we want to live. 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.”
4. The Dilemma Behind It
So, we face this dilemma: How do we embrace authenticity in a culture that literally feeds and sustains itself on the ideals of perfection?
How do we learn to daily choose to be honest and real, when we have been plastering on masks and building tales of white lies since the ignorance of childhood wore off?
And why would we even want to be authentic if that could lead to real rejection?
5. Why Should You Be Authentic
Well, first things first:
We must learn to accept who we are today, right now, as a person worthy of love.
If we can believe this, then we can learn that our value, our worth, our identity, does not lie in the opinions of others, the acceptance of others, or the perceptions of others.
Our worth as a human being is unshakeable, and no one can change it.
But if we are focused solely on earning some status of success in everyone’s eyes, we will always fail to be enough – because it really is the truth: we can’t please everyone.
So why be authentic? Because it’s freeing.
Being who you really are is one of the most load-lightening things out there, and the process of discovering yourself after a lifetime of being someone else is incredibly special and rewarding.
6. How Can You Be Authentic
But now the question is…how? I believe that this can happen many ways, but the best way is simply one step at a time.
I would suggest starting with a big picture brainstorm before determining your daily steps.
Ask yourself questions like:
· What do I love?
· What are my natural skills, talents, hobbies?
· What have I always wanted to try or learn?
· Who am I when no one else is around?
· Who am I with the people I love and am most comfortable with?
· Who am I around co-workers, peers, authority, strangers? Do I change depending on the crowd?
· What are my greatest values, the non-negotiable beliefs I hold, the things I’m interested in?
· Who and what do I care about? What do I not care about?
· If I could prioritize my life the way I truly wanted, what would it look like? What does it actually look like?
7. The Rewards Authenticity Can Bring You
Once you’ve answered the above questions, start to imagine what it would look like for you to be authentic in your daily life.
For me, I take a moment to think whenever someone asks me a question, and I make sure to give them an honest answer.
I process my life through a simple lens: mine – I write my story, my lessons, my experiences – and I share my perspective openly with others.
I take time each week to disconnect from all social media and technology, and meet face to face with friends, work on an old (or new!) skill like painting or playing an instrument, cook a new type of food, or simply take time to enjoy my Colorado home without any distractions.
As I’ve connected with myself and my surroundings in media-free ways, I’ve learned more about the person I am, and therefore, more about how to be authentic.
Additionally, I never talk myself up with little lies or some stretching of the truth, but instead I focus on the confidence I have in my real strengths, while choosing to be brave in addressing my honest weaknesses when relevant.
Authenticity is certainly not always going to be easy, but it will be rewarding.
If you want to be a leader in authenticity, you must be willing to leave behind the status quo, leave behind playing it safe, and lace up your trail blazing boots and risk getting hurt.
You have to be willing to risk rejection and make sacrifices for the sake of freedom, relationship, and genuine connection.
And, the thing is, if you are authentic, you will see that it multiplies wherever you go because authenticity breeds more authenticity.
A wise woman once told me: “We are only as effective as we are authentic. Leaders aren’t great because they offer the right answers, but because they offer themselves.”
Begin to offer yourself to the world, and you will see you have influence in doing so, and you will realize that your honesty gives far more than a media mirage ever could.
We sincerely hope that now you're ready to embrace authenticity after reading this article.
Share it with your friends and family so they all can reflect on the importance of being authentic and keep growing as human beings.