Authenticity: genuineness; realism; legitimacy; truthfulness. This seems to be a difficult concept to inculcate, in a world where we are constantly urged to be like something or someone. And then we also are told an inverse of the same; live for yourself, be you, don’t care what people think of you. Makes it quite confusing huh; should you be like someone else, or should I be myself?
We all get to that point in our lives where we are forced to deeply look at what matters to us, and looking at what matters, calls for an introspection of who we are. It may happen once, or several times in your life. In fact, the more times it happens the better, because it shows that you are evolving and not remaining stagnant.
In an effort to living in contentment this year, I have found myself thinking of authentic living as well, especially in my relationships, in who I am, and what I want. Life, as I have come to discover, essentially is a sum total of all your relationships; parents, siblings, spouse/better half, friends, colleagues, acquaintances, neighbors, enemies – are all people we relate with, and make our life be what it is. The major difference between an abundant life, and a miserable life, lies in the health state of your relationships. We become miserable because things aren’t going right with a loved one, or someone we care about. We go through stress because an enemy wants to bring you down. We experience joy and happiness because of moments shared with people that matter to us. So essentially, authentic living is determined by the authenticity of your relationships. Including a relationship with yourself
Authentic with YOU
Authenticity is first bread out of self awareness. Knowing what makes you tick, what makes you happy, sad, mad, ecstatic, is fundamental in knowing how to be authentic with yourself.( Read here for more insight). Because how can you be authentic with others, if you do not even understand yourself?
Once aware of who you are (which doesn’t happen over night; might even take the rest of your life to do this), next step is acceptance of yourself in totality; strengths, flaws and all. Let’s be honest here. You and I know we both aren’t perfect. An interesting fact I’ve come to recognize as humans that we vehemently refuse to take in positively is accepting that I was wrong, that I did a mistake, that I have a weakness. Rarely will you hear someone say that I have a character flaw in one or two aspects of my life. Because of this, we choose to only focus on our strengths. We want to show the world, that I got it all together when in reality you don’t. Being able to accept that you also struggle within a certain area, and that you do not know everything, and you are not good at everything. It’s ok. That is being genuine with yourself, and with this acceptance you are able to know how to work on it. Be sure to accept yourself holistically; don’t say it’s my weakness and I can’t change it. Accepting yourself wholly means you acknowledge you have an area of weakness, and will do what it takes to make things better.
Authentic with OTHERS
Authenticity calls for surrounding yourself with people who won’t judge you or put you down for being yourself. People who know your quirky side and are will still be willing to identify with you, instead of diminishing you for your quirkiness. People who will seek to help you be a better version of yourself and not try to change you to conform to their standards, or compete to be better than you. Since life is made up of a sum total of your all relationships, the people you keep close to you are of uttermost importance, for they will determine the level of authenticity of your life. I call them the bosom buddies. You can surround yourself with many people, but ensure you have at least 3 close bosom buddies that you can be yourself around. Every human being on the planet whether literate or illiterate, needs this gift in their lives. This at times calls for weeding your life garden, and is sometimes the hardest part of this level of authentic living. Saying goodbye to certain relationships can be more liberating than trying to force the continuation of it. And sometimes, you just out-grow certain relationships, which is ok. Relationships are dynamic and so are the people in it, and circumstances and life at times changes the dynamic of a relationship. If it ends up dragging you, it’s a good sign that you need to cut the cord from it.
Authentic with PURPOSE
What is your purpose in life? Are you living for something greater or are you just existing and going through the motions? In my constant observations of human behavior, I see so many people who do not know why they are here. Many people. And I mean MAANNNYY!!! Countless of humans are on earth to purely exist; living to pay bills, working an 8hr job, doing the same thing day in day out, year in, year out, with the only difference being your level of complaining about how its not your fault. (Everything by the way is your fault). And as a result, we have many walking corpses on earth, zombies to be exact. The most fulfilled and happy people are those who live for something, and are often the most authentic in their living and most deliberate. Deliberate meaning, they do what they do because it will eventually sum up to something greater. They do not ‘do, just because’. I hear the catch phrase YOLO all the time, and more often it’s associated with partying and going wild (whatever that means). Yes we only live once, but that is no excuse to waste your life on the cheap thrills coated as wild partying. Find out what your purpose on earth is, and let your YOLO revolve around that. Identify where you are, and start thinking of how you can be significant, even if you are working to pay bills. Whatever you do, make it have some form of significance to this life. It doesn’t have to be Oprah massive, but even in your small world, it can make a difference to someone’s life. Remember, we may not mean everything to the world, but in someone’s world, you mean everything. Make your life count for that one person. You will be churning out a more authentic and fulfilled YOLO when you know what you are living for.
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